Despite being less & less interested in the Oscars in recent years, I still try to watch as many nominees as I can. It’s been difficult the past few years since no longer being able to make as many cinema trips but did manage several trips so far this year plus quite a few have been on streaming services. Not seen some of the big nominees yet but think I’ve seen the ones that will win a lot of the awards & saw quite a few documentaries & shorts.
I’ve managed to review all I’ve seen. Here are my links to my reviews, ranked from my favorite to least favorite film.But I have to say that none of this year’s nominees will be all-time favorite films for me, which is often the case with nominees the past several years…:
Below are all the nominees. I don’t care too much who wins this year. I’ll put a ❤️ by my favorite/the one I want to win & a 🏆 by the one I think will win. Apologies if you’re reading this on something that doesn’t show those emojis (should be fine as this blog only has like 1 reader). 😉
Best Original Song
“Applause” by Diane Warren for Tell It Like a Woman
“Hold My Hand” by Lady Gaga and Bloodpop for Top Gun: Maverick🏆
“Lift Me Up” by Tems, Ludwig Göransson, Rihanna and Ryan Coogler for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“Naatu Naatu” by Kala Bhairava, M. M. Keeravani, Rahul Sipligunj for RRR
“This Is a Life” by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski for Everything Everywhere All at Once❤️
With the Oscars being on tonight, I figured I’d quickly post these reviews of a few more Oscar nominated films. Will do a full post later today with all the nominees & links to all my reviews of the 23 nominees I’ve seen.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kelvin Harrison Jr., David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Luke Bracey
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It chronicles the life of the American rock and roll singer and actor Elvis Presley under the management of Colonel Tom Parker.
Really liked this but, wow – how can some of this be so great & some of it so absolutely dreadful? Definitely an example of a performance highly deserving of an Oscar but a movie that is not.
I should start by saying that I know almost nothing about Elvis. Despite being a big music & movie lover, I’ve never liked many of his songs & have never seen his films. So, no, I can’t say how accurate these performances truly are, especially Hanks as I only know ”of” Colonel Tom Parker. But damn I thought Austin Butler was amazing. If he doesn’t win an Oscar but a rather rubbish version of Freddie Mercury did (and a really good version of Elton John wasn’t even nominated), I’ll be very annoyed. He oozes charisma & sex appeal in this film and I think he really captures the crazy effect that Elvis had on sexually repressed ‘50s America. He makes this movie. He feels like a star, which you need if you’re going to play someone as big as Elvis. I was impressed with how well he did as young Elvis as well as an older Elvis with many personal demons. Knew only a little of how much Elvis had been taken advantage of so found the ending quite heartbreaking and would say I appreciate the story of the life of this megastar a little bit more now. Know a documentary would be much more accurate, though, as I’m sure Luhrmann has taken many liberties with the facts.
To quickly get the dreadful out of the way: Baz Luhrmann & Tom Hanks. For the most part, I don’t get on with Luhrmann’s films. I appreciate his style when it works but it often doesn’t. Found a lot of it just plain cringy in Elvis and the mixing in of modern music, which I know is his thing and is okay sometimes, was terrible in this. It was annoying and threw me out of the film a few times. And then there was Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker. Oh boy. As I said, I know nothing about the real man but if he was truly as awful as this film makes him out to be (sounds like that’s the case), why did this story get told through him? The character was so obnoxious (did he actually talk like that?!) and we had to listen to him telling this story through the whole damn movie. I guess it kind of makes sense as he was so controlling of Elvis that he didn’t get to live his own life because of Parker. Maybe that’s why Luhrmann made the decision to have the story told through him but I just wanted more of Butler and WAY less of Hanks. I’ve never disliked Hanks before! So Luhrmann must be partly to blame.
Oh well. The movie itself could’ve been much better but Butler was so fantastic & the story of Elvis is so fascinating that I still got a lot of enjoyment out of the film. Well worth the watch despite its big flaws, even if like me you’re not really a fan of Elvis Presley.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (2021)
Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp
Starring: Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Dean Fleischer Camp, Lesley Stahl, Isabella Rossellini
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It is based on a series of shorts of the same name written by Slate and Fleischer Camp. Slate reprises her voice role as Marcel, an anthropomorphic shell living with his grandmother Connie.
Was eager to see this as it very much looked like my kind of thing (heartwarming & adorable – I love that shit plus adore cute anthropomorphic things). With the Pixar Oscar nominee being so disappointing this year, I was expecting to like Marcel the most but Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is easily my favorite & the one I think deserves to win.
Still enjoyed Marcel but was a little underwhelmed by the story. And although it was a clever idea, the way it was presented as a documentary didn’t quite work for me and I can see why this probably worked better in the original shorts (if they were done that way?) than it did in this full-length film. Marcel was very cute, Jenny Slate’s voice was perfect, and his relationship with his grandmother was very sweet. For me, the movie slightly crossed the line into being a little too saccharine & trying a bit too hard. Did enjoy seeing the inventive ways of doing things that Marcel & his grandmother had to find to live their lives once they found themselves alone. And liked it showing how horrible society has become in this social media obsessed world (without being preachy about it).
It’s a nice film & my second favorite of this year’s Animated nominees but it may not be saying much as I think the other two I’ve seen are not very good at all (not seen Puss In Boots). I didn’t find Marcel as moving as I was hoping. It’s nowhere near the very best animated films from the studios I love the most (Studio Ghibli, Pixar & Disney). Am disappointed that Pixar have been so unreliable with their recent films and am missing the emotion we got from their very best stuff.
I’ve watched every Marvel movie (ranked here) and do enjoy them but I’m not a massive fan and it’s feeling like an obligation to watch them now. Would’ve been happy for them to stop at Endgame – the films are seeming more & more messy and pointless now.
With all of these films, I like the characters much more than the stories themselves & that was especially true of this film. The MCU has done a fantastic job developing some fascinating characters. The women in this are great. Letitia Wright & Danai Gurira were so much fun to watch & I liked their interactions with each other. Lupita Nyong’o was as brilliant as always as was Angela Bassett who definitely has a shot at winning that Oscar tonight. And the introduction of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams was a nice addition – would’ve liked a bit more to do with her. So this one was off to a good start with strong characters. They obviously had a huge hole to fill and not having Chadwick Boseman is still heartbreaking but I thought they did well with handling that.
Then it turned into the same MCU formula we always get. Which, fine, I get it – That’s what people want. Why mess with something so many people clearly love & is making them tons of money? But I often lose interest in these films halfway through when the same old fight scenes & the same old storylines occur plus this was FAR longer than it needed to be, which didn’t help. Although I care most about liking the main characters, it helps if I also buy into the story & the obligatory villain. The story wasn’t too bad but those blue Avatar-looking fuckers & boring-Aquaman ankle-wings dude weren’t working for me. I completely lost interest in the middle this time. I just wanted to get back to seeing the main kick-ass female characters together. The middle of this just went off the deep end (literally).
So I’m mixed on this one. Good characters but overall a bit of a mess. But, as I say, I’m not a huge MCU fan so I’m going to be a bit more negative. I admit I like the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies the most so I obviously just like my superhero movies to be a bit more fun & lightweight than this one. It’s why I far prefer the MCU to current DC films.
Hi All! Happy March! I guess I better switch my WordPress app over to this new app it keeps bugging me about. So I’ve quickly finished this post in the old app since, knowing I’m an old fart & useless with technology, I’ll probably fuck something up & never figure out how to post something on this blog ever again once I make the switch. 🙂
Here’s what I watched & read in February. Have even managed to go to the cinema a few times! (Saw Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania a few days ago, too).
MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):
– The Swimmer – Liked this a lot! Quite a weird one. Thanks to my buddy Film Miasma for reviewing this (here) as I’d not even heard of it before. Won’t say much about it in this post as I already did a separate full review of it here. – 8/10
– Knock At The Cabin – I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I know he has his critics but I will always choose watching a story I don’t already know & which might surprise me instead of all the utterly bland & predictable sequels, prequels, reboots, superheroes, etc etc. Yeah, he’s had some duds but at least he gives us original ideas.
I know this is based on someone else’s book but he’s again, as with Old, chosen to adapt something that fits in so well with the kinds of stories he obviously loves to make. Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. It’s certainly not up there with the very best like The Sixth Sense (which I still think is brilliant) but it was much better than a lot of his work & Dave Bautista gave a really good performance. The girl was very cute, the family were likeable & the story was intriguing. I’ve currently ranked it 5th in my Shyamalan ranking, which I think is where it’ll stay.
As I said, the story intrigued me so I thought about reading the book first (still have it on reserve at the library – long wait!). What I found most disappointing was that very little was explained. I’m wondering if the story is much more fleshed out in the book, as is often the case? So I’d still like to read it to see if there’s more to it. It also feels the least “Shyamalan” of his movies, maybe partly due to it not ending how you’d expect. Think the ending is a bit of a letdown after a good buildup. But, I still think the film itself is of a better quality than those I’ve ranked below it on my list. I did appreciate it and got a lot of enjoyment out of going to the cinema, which has become a very rare possibility for me. So maybe being back in the cinema is making me rate this one a bit more highly… – 7/10
– All Quiet On The Western Front – I admit that I had to force myself to watch this one after it was nominated for Best Picture as I try to watch as many Oscar nominees as I can each year. I always have to force myself to watch war movies, even though I love some of them (The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Full Metal Jacket, etc). Don’t think I’ve ever disliked a war film but it will still never be a favorite genre for me. Life sucks enough! I want escapism.
Yes, this is a good film. Lovely cinematography & a very interesting score. I did see the 1930 film in high school after reading the book but I remember nothing whatsoever about either & if this is at all similar. I liked the characters & the friendships but didn’t want to like anyone since, like Game Of Thrones, I knew I better not get too attached to anyone. This film is, as to be expected, very grim. As war movies should be. Don’t think it’s one of the very best I’ve ever seen but is still a worthy addition to this genre. Was worth the watch. And it inspired me to rank every war movie I’ve ever seen (here). Seen more than I’d realised! (56) – 7.5/10
– Empire Of Light – Enjoyed this despite some negative reviews. Admittedly, I wanted to see this as I’ve been to where it was filmed (have photos of me at that roller disco) and I also always love movies set in a cinema or in some way having to do with a love of cinema. Oh, and I do love an ‘80s setting! Can understand why some were disappointed with the script/story as it was indeed a bit messy & I’d have liked far more character development for everyone. But Olivia Colman & Micheal Ward were very good and had an interesting relationship plus the film looked lovely as expected with Roger Deakins doing the cinematography (and it’s up for that Oscar). Can absolutely understand why the general public didn’t go for this one but think many film lovers should appreciate it. – 7/10
I went roller skating here!
– Top Hat – Ashamed to say this is my first Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie. Figured it was time to finally watch the dancing duo in action after watching my first ever Fred Astaire movie (Easter Parade) last year.
Didn’t realise this was going to be a screwball comedy, which isn’t usually a favorite subgenre of mine, instead of just a straightforward musical. Not sure the comedic elements or the romance worked that well in this but the dance numbers were of course a joy to watch. I don’t know why I have to force myself to watch classic musicals such as this as I always end up enjoying them. And, as often happens with them, I thought I knew absolutely nothing from Top Hat so was surprised that I indeed knew two of the songs in it. Funny how the songs in these films really do stand the test of time. As for the story in this, though, I don’t think it has aged quite as well as some have. Have to say I definitely preferred Easter Parade but it could help that I think Judy Garland was just fantastic in everything I’ve seen her in.
As an overall movie, I found Top Hat quite average but was worth a one-time watch for the dance numbers & songs. – 6.5/10
– Strange World – Well this wasn’t so bad? I quite liked the story, which felt far more original than a lot of family films. I think the issue, for me, is that it’s one that again is just not up to Disney standards. It felt more like I’d just watched a good DreamWorks movie. So I feel like I’d give this an extra star if it was DreamWorks based on my lower standards for them, which seems unfair, but I expect a bit more when it’s got the Disney or Pixar name on it.
Before I sound too negative, I did enjoy this and don’t understand the really bad reviews. As I said, I thought the story was unique and the “strange” world was wonderfully bizarre and lovely. Was a bit Dr. Seuss-ian (which is fine by me). The characters were likeable enough, though underdeveloped, and the creature Splat was fun. Again, it’s not up to Disney’s very best but it was much better than I was expecting based on the negativity. I liked it more than Pixar recents like Luca, Onward & Turning Red. – 6.5/10
– True Spirit – A 2023 release on Netflix that no one I follow on Letterboxd has watched yet?! Yes, it’s a very predictable, inspiring, feelgood true story but these types of movies never hurt anyone. Knew nothing of the real girl, Jessica Watson, who sailed solo around the world at the age of 16. That’s amazing. Thought the girl who played her, Teagan Croft, was good and felt super old seeing Anna Paquin playing her mother. Enjoyable weekend afternoon viewing. – 6/10
– Somebody I Used To Know – After becoming obsessed with Community last year, I was very excited to see a new release starring “Annie” and, my favorite, “Abed”. Well, this is maybe a fraction better than the recent Your Place Or Mine (reviewed below). But certainly not by much & Brie’s character is far more annoying than Witherspoon’s & borderline hateful. So she hasn’t talked to her lovely ex in ten years & now suddenly wants to ruin his wedding which is in just a few days? The most unbelievable thing was his fiancée putting up with that bullshit. A disappointment overall, mainly as I disliked the main character and what the hell is the point of that? Meh. Maybe I’ll rank the Witherspoon movie just above this one after all. Oh – I quite liked her hometown in this, though. Reminded me of some small towns where I grew up. – 5.5/10
I just want that Community movie they said would happen…
– Your Place Or Mine – This wasn’t great. The best thing about it was The Cars soundtrack. That band deserves more love.
Reese & Ashton had zero chemistry & I barely believed them as friends let alone lovers. The story was predictable, as expected, but who cares with a straight-to-Netflix romcom. It was a pleasant enough film to pass the time & completely forget about in a year. Did like Steve Zahn as the weirdo neighbour. Always fun to see him pop up in films.
– Heathers – Hubby & I felt like rewatching this absolute classic we’ve seen many times. Love it. They don’t (and won’t) ever make good dark teen comedies like this anymore. Feel sorry for today’s teens & their rubbish entertainment.– 9/10
Managed to watch all but one of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees…
– A House Made Of Splinters – Heartbreaking. The one I found most moving of the Best Documentary Oscar nominees this year. Have so much respect for those who try to help children caught up in terrible situations. You can currently see this on BBC iPlayer.
– Fire Of Love – What an amazing couple & bittersweet love story. Although I can’t say I’m that fascinated by volcanoes, I always love to see someone show such passion for something. It’s infectious. And, wow – they captured brilliant volcano footage. And now I want to watch Joe Versus The Volcano again. Ha! (Seriously, though – that film is underrated).
Although I found A House Made of Splinters the most moving, I think this is the best documentary I’ve seen this year & that it has a chance of winning the Oscar. I’d be happy to see it win. My only complaint is the narration. It’s certainly a unique voice – I just mainly found it distracting as I thought at first that the woman who voiced Sadness in Inside Out was narrating (she’s not).
– Navalny – Fascinating story & person! Well worth a watch before the Oscars ceremony. Recommended. Also on BBC iPlayer.
– All That Breathes – The last of the Best Documentary nominees I managed to see on services (thank you, BBC iPlayer). Beautifully shot & lovely melancholy score. I like that the nominees I’ve seen this year are mostly about people who are devoted to something they’re passionate about. Was heartbreaking to see what is happening to “all that breathes” this polluted air. Worth mentioning a great short documentary nominee also about lovely people devoted to rescuing animals: The Elephant Whisperers. Liked that a lot.
Again, two more Oscar nominees I managed to find to watch. Really want to see the rest of the animated shorts! Anyone know where I can see them??
– The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse – This had lovely animation & I appreciate its uplifting sayings, etc. But was a bit over-the-top on that. Overly saccharine. Also felt too long.
– The Flying Sailor – I like that this is supposedly based on a (maybe) true story? Nuts. (Ha. Literally!). Whereas the previous one felt way too long for a short, this felt too short. Could’ve been better considering its fascinating story.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN FEBRUARY
– Fairy Tale by Stephen King – First of all, that above cover is SO much better than the U.K. cover I have! Most of the recent covers on King’s books in the U.K. are rubbish.
Well, I liked this book a lot. I know I’m a huge King fan so I’m likely to love most his books but I do really dislike a few (kind of hated Under The Dome & not crazy about The Outsider). As I like horror, I’ve avoided King’s fantasy stuff. Did try The Gunslinger(twice!) and cannot get into that so have read no more of The Dark Tower. But I finally read The Eyes Of The Dragon last year & loved that Game-Of-Thrones-Light book! So I went into this new fantasy with an open mind after that one. Yes, if you liked The Eyes Of The Dragon, you’ll probably like Fairy Tale but I am sure some of his pure horror lovers won’t like this one at all.
Really liked the boy in this and of course loved the dog sidekick. Who doesn’t like a loveable dog?? It was like reading a Dean Koontz book (he loves adding a dog sidekick). It’s kind of two books in one, with the first half in the “real world” being so very different from the fantasy world but I like getting two for the price of one & really enjoyed both parts. King has once again given us a very descriptive, imaginative & bizarre fantasy world, which I’m a big fan of in so many of his books such as Lisey’s Story, etc. Adored the shoemaker woman and the others like her that he encounters in the other world. The story did lose its way a bit about three quarters of the way through and it was quite different for a while (just after the sundial – so, actually, it was more like three stories in one). But I still enjoyed that section and overall liked this one a lot. Would still rank The Eyes Of The Dragon a bit higher but would love to read more of this type of fantasy story from King. – 4/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Last Of Us: S1 E4-7 – Enjoying this but not obsessed with it like some existing fans seem to be as the game means nothing to me. I can’t say it feels like anything all that new as we’ve seen this type of story so many times now. But I love apocalyptic & zombielike stories so I’m still happy. Sad to see episode 7 was the lowest rated episode but I really liked it. Two girls hanging out & having fun in a post-apocalyptic mall? Dawn Of The Dead AND Night Of The Comet vibes?! I’m here for that! Love those films.
Tried the first episode of Extraordinary. Liked the highly inappropriate & filthy humor. Hubby wasn’t feeling the show at all so I may continue on my own but have too much else to watch at the moment. We also tried the first episode of The Goldbergs but neither of us were feeling that one. And for nostalgia, I rewatched the first two episodes of Silver Spoons on YouTube. Man I love pure ’80s cheese!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Well, the Oscars are coming up so maybe I’ll do a post on Friday with the reviews of the nominees I’ve seen (more than I realised but not enough of the “big nominees”). If I can be arsed. 🙂 I’m expecting Everything Everywhere All At Once to be the big winner, which I didn’t love. Can’t say I truly loved any of the nominees I’ve seen. As usual.
I’ll end with a song from The Cars as they had so many of their songs in that underwhelming Reese Witherspoon movie. I’ll go with Let’s Go as it’s the first one I remember hearing in the movie.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A man spends a summer day swimming as many pools as he can all over a quiet suburban town.
Thanks to my longtime blogging buddy Film Miasma for introducing me to this movie via his reviews here: Part 1 & Part 2. How had I not heard of this movie before?
Well, this was an odd one but I liked it a lot. It’s certainly unique, which is something I’m always looking for as I watch too many movies & get bored with the majority being so predictable. I didn’t know where this story was going and honestly am still not sure what the hell was going on at the end & what it was meant to mean but man I loved how the film captured that swinging late ‘60s vibe. Also liked what it (maybe?) is saying about the lifestyles of the rich & the powerful (men especially) and the damage that can cause to them & those around them. It feels like this movie would fit in perfectly with recent films exploring these same themes, such as The Menu (which I didn’t love – it had a good idea but the execution could have been much better).
So, this guy (Burt Lancaster) has decided he’s going to swim his way back home via the swimming pools of all his friends & neighbors. The story starts out pleasant enough while he chats with those whose pools he’s using, although there’s an uneasy feeling running throughout the whole film & I loved that sense of dread in this beautiful setting. Things get more tense & bizarre with each pool that he encounters. Then comes the ending, which my Twilight Zone-loving self really appreciated.
The story feels quite ahead of its time for 1968 & I can easily see them doing a new version of this film as its ideas are just as, and maybe even more, relevant today. But I’d worry they’d make a complete mess of it & wouldn’t capture the same mood that worked so perfectly in ‘60s & ‘70s films. So hopefully the original film will instead become one of those that gets rediscovered. Don’t know why it’s not more well known. Would like to read the short story by John Cheever on which this is based.
I’m still not entirely sure what the film is about or what it’s trying to say. I think it could mean different things to different people, so I like that you can take whatever you may choose for yourself from it. For me, although I can’t relate specifically to a rich male not being able to come to terms with his issues, I felt quite sad about the changes in the film that I think could also represent the passage of time, aging, and sometimes feeling like we’re losing ourselves along the way.
Yeah, I liked this one a lot. Great story & deeply affecting. Wish there were more original films like this.
First roundup of 2023! Let’s see if I can keep this up all year. I started Januaryby watching Paul Newman being all sexy so not a bad way to start the year. Here’s what I watched in January…
MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):
– Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – Decided that gazing at young Paul Newman would be a lovely way to start a new year of movie-watching. Enjoyed this. Who doesn’t like watching a dysfunctional family yelling at each other? Well, those horrible brats & the sister-in-law were annoying as hell but Newman, Elizabeth Taylor & Burl Ives were great. Although it was a little distracting having Ives be so grumpy while sounding just like his Sam the Snowman character from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer… I kept expecting him to start singing Silver And Gold. Can relate to having to deal with family drama (although thankfully not nearly as dramatic as the cranky f*^kers in this movie) & I think many of us can probably relate to Taylor’s character so desperately wanting to have sex with Paul Newman. Mmm Hmm. – 8/10
– Last Night In Soho – Happy to have finally seen this one & have ranked it pretty high in my list of 2021 films. I don’t think it’s Edgar Wright’s very best (I’d probably only rank Scott Pilgrim below it) but it had a lot to live up to as I don’t think he’s made a bad film. It’s certainly one of the better movies I’ve seen these last few dreadful years despite being really sick of Anya Taylor-Joy. Taylor-Joy & Thomasin McKenzie both did very well in this, it was fun seeing Terence Stamp & Diana Rigg, and I enjoyed the (quite simple) ghost story. But the real stars were the setting, the film’s vibe and, as I’d expect from Wright, great use of songs to perfectly capture the right mood. It’s a film I actually enjoyed watching, which I can’t say of a lot of films lately including two I watched just after this: The Batman (YAWN) and, another Taylor-Joy film, The Menu (overrated & tries too hard). I like that Wright’s films just come across as having been made by someone who loves watching as well as making movies. – 7.5/10
– Crimes Of The Future – Love David Cronenberg’s body horror classics & enjoyed seeing a return to that after being disappointed with most of his recent films. It’s still not as good as his best but it’s one of the better 2022 films I’ve seen (I’ve ranked it 9th in my Cronenberg ranking & 11th for 2022). Viggo Mortensen & Léa Seydoux were very good and I was glad to see Kristen Stewart was in this way less than I was expecting. Honestly, though, I could’ve done with this one being far weirder. Seemed very tame for a Cronenberg body horror. Enjoyed the film, though, and hope Cronenberg continues to make more like this. – 7/10
– King Richard – You can’t get me to watch sports but I’ll happily watch a feelgood sports movie. I know very little about Venus & Serena Williams besides, you know, that they’re really bloody good at tennis. So I liked seeing the story of their family & how they got into tennis although I assumed it got the glossy Hollywood treatment (it did – I shouldn’t have looked into things – I prefer to believe in fairytales). Smith was very good but it’s a shame that what happened at the Oscars will forever be associated with this film celebrating two amazing sisters & athletes. I liked it a lot & its inspiring message and thought the girls (Saniyya Sidney & Demi Singleton) were great. The only thing I found slightly disappointing was that I’d have liked more focus on Venus & Serena than on their dad (despite the name of the film). – 7/10
– Marathon Man – Been meaning to watch this for years. Now I can see why the dental torture is always mentioned as it’s unfortunately the most memorable thing about this. I’ve actually never had a cavity or any dental work, though, so maybe that’s why this movie didn’t have much of an effect on me??
Did appreciate this movie’s look & vibe as I’m always a sucker for gritty ‘70s films. Dustin Hoffman was good as was Laurence Olivier as the badass dental torturer. Roy Scheider was also a very nice surprise as I somehow managed to not even know he was in this. So A+ for the stars and the acting but the story was an absolute mess. Not what I’d expect from a William Goldman story! Maybe it just didn’t translate well to film? To be fair, he’s had a few duds but I can’t help but compare everything to his brilliant The Princess Bride which I adore with all my heart (and Magic, which is also pretty great). I could barely follow the plot in this. Okay, I get a bit dumb when I’m slightly bored but WTF was going on in this? Something about diamonds & Nazis? Something going on with Hoffman’s dad that ended up having nothing to do with anything? Two old farts with road rage? Hoffman sleeping with some woman who was maybe bad or maybe she wasn’t I don’t know. It’s been about a week since I saw this and, yep, I mainly just remember the dental torture. And Hoffman running around a bit (hence the name of the movie, I guess!). Oh, and it was far more bloody & violent than I was expecting for some reason.
Disappointing story from Goldman. Fine performances from the big name stars. As expected on the gritty Seventies-ness. Certainly worth a watch but not up there with others that are also considered classics from that same time period. Does have its moments, though, and my 3 star Letterboxd rating seems a little low but 3.5 tends to be what I give to movies that I enjoyed much more than I did this one. I prefer rating out of 10 & this would be 7/10 on that scale, which seems more fair. – 7/10
– The Menu – Found this disappointing. A film that maybe thinks it’s more clever than it is? I did appreciate how tense it got & was enjoying that up until it became too ridiculous at the end & its message got all muddled. What was the point? Yeah, most rich people suck. No duh. I just think there are far better films that have explored that. And can we have a break from Anya Taylor-Joy being in every movie? – 6.5/10
– The Lost City – Better than I was expecting. Is of course silly but I’ve seen far worse romcom adventures. Actually, we could use more movies in this sort of genre again, especially with the adventure part added in… Thought Bullock & Tatum were fine together & had decent chemistry. I may be wrong but think some complained about the age difference? Oh, so the exact same sort of age difference in a million other movies except the man is the older one in all of those and no one comments on them? Forget Tatum anyway – I’ll take the almost-60 Brad Pitt who is looking damn hot in this movie. Oh, and I thought this was much more enjoyable than Uncharted when comparing it to a similar recent film (minus the romance). – 6.5/10
– Shotgun Wedding – This was silly but enjoyable. Happy to have some romcoms like this lately. This was a lot like The Lost City and it’s great that Bullock & Lopez are still doing these types of movies as they’re both so good in these roles. And I’m glad I didn’t look this film up beforehand so got a very nice surprise when the always amazing Jennifer Coolidge showed up as the groom’s mother. Love her! The story of course gets too ridiculous at times but who cares with this type of movie? Lopez & Duhamel worked well together as did Bullock & Tatum in The Lost City. Not sure which one I preferred but if you like one, you’ll like the other. If you like your romcoms to be a little less outrageous & don’t need the action, you may prefer the recent Lopez film Marry Me instead, which was also quite enjoyable & less silly.
I can say that this is my favorite 2023 U.K. movie release that I’ve seen so far this year! But I’ve only seen three… – 6.5/10
– Save The Cinema – Ah, another heartwarming based-on-a-true-story British film. They do love that genre here! I was of course interested in a story about a small Welsh town in the ‘90s trying to save their cinema from being demolished because I’d be trying to save it too (if my town had a cinema – man I wish it did!!). Figured it would be a “love of cinema” film like Cinema Paradiso etc etc (I love movies about loving movies). The movie should be called Save The Theatre, though, as it’s more about the woman who put on live productions there with the town’s children & that’s what she was trying to save. Samantha Morton was good in the lead role & I especially liked Jonathan Pryce as her old mentor & teacher and the one who has a love of cinema and brings that to the theatre as they realise getting enough people to come to movies there will help keep it in business.
There’s a great surprise for movie lovers at the end which I won’t spoil if you’ve not read the full plot synopsis. They chucked in a few quirky characters as they like to do in these sort of British films plus a nice little romance subplot but there wasn’t a lot of character development. Not the most memorable of these sort of movies but a nice story and an easy watch for a lazy weekend afternoon. Oh, and another surprise for the end: You find out that one of the sons of this woman became someone everyone living in the U.K. has heard over & over again… – 6.5/10
– Jackass Forever – These dumbshits do make me laugh… Although there was nothing that felt all that new & original in this one. We’ve seen it all before from these guys but it was fun seeing them doing the same stupid shit again. Too many c*cks, b*lls & b*ttholes for my liking, though! – 6.5/10
– You People – Can’t decide how I feel about this movie. Found some of it funny & enjoyed it while watching it but later felt annoyed at how over-the-top & ridiculous the parents were. Now I wish the couple had just told them all to stick it & eloped.
Jonah Hill & Lauren London were a likeable couple (although I found it hard to believe she’d agree to go out with him in the first place). The relationship was quite sweet. I couldn’t relate to Hill’s character and style. Is this what people that age are like? He seemed like more of a caricature. Everyone felt that way. Only London‘s character felt a bit more realistic. Julia Louis-Dreyfus did well with what she was given and was funny as always but, again, the character was too ridiculous. Same goes for Eddie Murphy. Nia Long was given absolutely nothing to do. Did find David Duchovny’s cluelessly dumb father quite fun, though, and liked Sam Jay as Hill’s friend.
I think it just wrapped things up too nicely at the end. So after all that bullshit they suddenly all accept everyone for who they are, cocaine habits and all? They should still think about moving far far away from their families & the cocaine friends. – 6/10
– Dog Gone – My first 2023 release I watched! This was safe and wholesome and a bit bland but it had a loveable dog in it so who cares. It’s apparently based on a true story but it looks like they changed the character of the dog’s owner quite a bit, making him younger & not telling the tragic reason why he got a dog. Not sure why but maybe they wanted to keep the story a little more lighthearted? An inoffensive sweet dog movie to pass the time on a weekend afternoon. And Rob Lowe is looking mighty fine at this age. – 6/10
– The Batman – I’m admittedly not a huge fan of superheroes. Don’t read comics but watch the movies. Enjoy them but they’re throwaway entertainment for me. When it comes to Batman, Tim Burton’s is my preference. Usually prefer more lightweight superhero movies to the dark & dreary ones now so knew this one probably wasn’t going to be for me but, bloody hell, I didn’t think it would be so boring.
Robert Pattinson‘s emo Batman put me to sleep (literally), Zoë Kravitz looked lovely but she & Pattinson both had zero presence in this, and Andy Serkis had no character development whatsoever but I guess we’re meant to have an emotional attachment to him since we already know who he is thanks to there being so many Batman stories. That may be the problem, though. As I said I’m not some huge fan & this movie seemed to be for the fans who read the comics & already know all the characters well as this movie didn’t set any of them up at all. The movie seemed to assume you already know all you need to know about everyone but I need a movie to make me care about the characters, even when they’re characters I’ve seen in other films already. I have zero desire to watch a sequel to this version whereas I did want to see what would happen in each of the Nolan films (and I’m not even a big fan of those, either, but they were great in setting up very strong characters). Oh, and the story in this was as dull as the actors. I guess Paul Dano was fine but he gives me a creepy vibe all the time anyway. Actually, Jeffrey Wright was decent too – a slightly more developed character than the rest for some reason.
I guess the best thing I can say about this is that it made me appreciate Nolan’s trilogy more. It also made me think much more highly of Joker. I still like Burton’s Batman the most & the same amount that I already did. It also didn’t affect how much I hate the ZS superhero movies. So I’m giving this an extra half a star as it at least still managed to be far better than any of those films. It’s not a horrible movie, it’s just dreadfully dull. – 6/10
– Stand By Me – I can’t fully put into words how much this movie means to me. I watched it every day after school when I was 13. Finally rewatched it with my daughter as she’s the right age now & am very happy to say that she liked it too. Have never reviewed it as I find it hard to review my all-time favorites but wrote quite a bit about what it means to me on this list I did on my blog: My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults. 🙂 – 10/10
– Footloose – Felt like rewatching this ‘80s favorite. Being the age I am I grew up on this so of course love it, although certainly not to the same degree as the John Hughes teen movies. Reminds me of my small American town (minus the crazy people banning music & dancing). One of the most Eighties movies of them all. Man I miss those days & miss when movies had such great soundtracks. – 8/10
– Circle – Seen this film 3 times now as I keep convincing others to watch it with me. Just love the idea, which very much feels like it could have been a classic Twilight Zone story. And still love that one of the film’s actors & producers commented on my full review of this on my blog (here). Love when that happens. I recommend checking this one out if you like the sound of the story. – 7.5/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:
– The Imposter – This was certainly an unbelievable story but surprisingly far less shocking than I was expecting based on other documentaries from recent years. I’m not sure what it says about the state of the world that this ten year old doc doesn’t seem quite so outrageous now. Seriously, though – that guy looked nothing like that missing kid. There was definitely something else going on in this wild story. And I can’t believe this guy did the same thing over & over again. Crazy stuff.
Managed to watch three short Oscar nominees:
– The Elephant Whisperers – This was a lovely short documentary about a couple who raise orphaned baby elephants in India. God I want to raise a baby elephant! Absolutely adorable.
– The Martha Mitchell Effect – Intriguing story about the wife of John Mitchell, Nixson’s Attorney General. She helped to bring down Nixson over that whole Watergate thang by being a cool busybody who shared way too much info & was treated like shit for being a woman with an opinion.
– Le Pupille – This was a weird little story. Didn’t really see the point of it & absolutely hate stories where sweet orphans are treated like shit by nuns. But the girls in it were very cute.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Last Of Us: S1 E1-3– Have zero knowledge of this game but enjoying the show so far. But I do always love anything apocalyptic & zombielike… Thought episode three was really good in giving us a great backstory to, from what I understand, a lesser character from the game? Am hoping they’ll do that more with the main characters. They’ve fleshed out Pascal’s character somewhat in that strong first episode with his daughter but we know nothing about that woman he was later with & they have yet to really make us care about that Game Of Thrones girl. We’ll see. Will definitely keep watching.
– Chucky: S2 E1 – The first season was a bit of fun throwaway entertainment. Got a bit too ridiculous at the end, though. Don’t think this first episode was a strong start to season 2 but will give another episode or two a try. Guess they have to try to set things up again with all those they didn’t kill off.
– One Of Us Is Lying: S1 – This was… Meh. It’s based on a YA book I’d been thinking about reading. Was annoyed after starting it to realise it was 2 seasons instead of just 1. We need more limited series shows! Am I the only one who likes a limited series?! I don’t have time to devote to TV shows that just get worse season by season as they milk the fuck out of everything these days. I don’t think I care enough about this one to bother with season 2.
Very nearly finished with Fairy Tale by Stephen King so will review it next month. Loving it!
Here’s some more sexy Paul Newman 🥵
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Well, I’ll probably spend the next month watching as many Oscar nominees as possible before the Academy Awards. Not many on services, though, so won’t manage to see many of the biggest nominees. I’ve seen only four of the Best Picture nominees but have a feeling I’ve seen the winner anyway (I think it’s between Everything Everywhere All At Once or The Banshees Of Inisherin). All Quiet On The Western Front could have a small chance & I’ve just watched that over the weekend. Hoping I can find a place to watch all the animated shorts. Any idea where to see those?!
As I said, I really enjoyed the Last Night In Soho soundtrack so I should really finish this post with one of the great ’60s songs capturing the mood of that era. But I HAVE to finish with a song that played during “current day” in the movie as I love this song. Here’s Happy House by Siouxsie and the Banshees:
Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m really hoping that 2023 is going to be a much better year than 2022. I kept on top of my Letterboxd reviews so here are all the reviews of everything I watched in December. There are a lot as I was trying to finish watching the 2022 releases that are on services but there are still loads more that I’ve missed…
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Millennium Actress – Thoroughly enjoyed this story of a legendary film actress discussing her life with two documentary filmmakers. Always like films exploring the lives of those involved in filmmaking & loved how her life story was told through her film roles. This is my third & I think probably now my favorite Satoshi Kon film. I’d highly recommend this as well as his films Tokyo Godfathers& the trippy Paprika. Will definitely be checking out Perfect Blue at some point too… – 8/10
– Only Yesterday – Had to get at least one Studio Ghibli movie watched before the end of this year. I adore Ghibli but am running out of ones to watch. Think I only have five left! What will I do after that?! (I’ve ranked all I’ve seen here)
This one, of course, isn’t up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis but is still a great film worthy of the studio. It’s a very grownup story and follows a young woman as her trip to the countryside brings back strong memories from when she was a fifth grade schoolgirl. I thought it portrayed very well how strong nostalgia can be and how our experiences while young can have such a strong influence on who we become as adults. Something that can seem insignificant to an adult may be something that a child coming of age will never forget. Enjoyed the scenes when she was a child the most and they gave me my own happy & sad memories from when I was that same age. Especially liked how the boys behaved & how awkward the boys & girls were around each other. The 1966 Japanese schoolkids in this behaved exactly the same as my American classmates did in the mid-80s, which put a smile on my face.
Another great film from Studio Ghibli & one of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2022. – 8/10
– Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.
Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.
Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years. – 7.5/10
– The Banshees Of Inisherin – Tried to end the year on a good 2022 film as I’ve been very disappointed with most of the movies released this year. I can’t say this lived up to my expectations based on the rave reviews but I did like it. It might just squeak into my top ten for the year.
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Kerry Condon are all very good in this & I can see them all being nominated for Oscars. The acting nominations would be well deserved. The film itself didn’t quite live up to the performances for me but I did like the story and the beautiful setting and that adorable donkey. I never thought I’d want a little donkey to live in my house & keep me company but I totally want that now.
I’m adding my review now as the year is over & I just want to get this posted but I’ve not fully sorted out my feelings on this movie yet. I wanted to like it more but it’s one I think could grow on me. I liked the dark humor & the characters & not knowing where the story was going to end up. Finally something unpredictable in 2022! But it’s also a slow film & not one I think I’d watch again even though I sometimes love a depressing film. It’s just so deeply sad & I felt awful for Farrell‘s character and I’m not sure I’d want to watch him go through all that again. I’ve been dumped by friends too. It sucks. I need a donkey.
I think In Bruges is still Martin McDonagh’s best and seeing this made me really want to rewatch that. Think this one may be just behind Three Billboards for me (they’re close) but I definitely preferred this to Seven Psychopaths. I’ll think about it a bit more. I think this may go up in my estimation but, man, it made me sad. – 7.5/10
– After Yang – Was looking forward to this as I really loved Kogonada‘s film Columbus. This one isn’t as good but I still liked it as I always love slow, thinky sci-fi and never tire of the exploration of life, death & what makes us human even though that’s been done to death in this genre. After Yang doesn’t really give us anything new on those themes but, like Columbus, it’s lovely to look at & I appreciated the score from the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m still working on my year-end movie rankings but this will rank highly for me as it’s right up my alley. I’m sure many would find this film far too slow with very little happening but I would definitely watch any further films from Kogonada based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7.5/10
– The Lodge – Really liked this slow burn psychological horror (but it’s exactly the type of thing I always enjoy). Good story and even better characters & performances. Really appreciated that the younger characters, played by Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh, felt very real especially in their grief. Riley Keough was also great as the new fiancée the kids don’t trust. And I always love a slightly creepy doll or dollhouse. – 7/10
– Men – I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror. I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.
Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022. – 7/10
– Scream(2022) – Thought this was one of the better recent horror, um, reboots/sequels/reimaginings/requels?? But maybe my standards are just very low as I think the majority are utter shit. It might help that, while I think the first Scream is great & a horror classic, I now don’t have much memory of any of its sequels & overall just never loved Scream to the same degree as A Nightmare On Elm Street (I’m old). So I didn’t mind seeing another Scream film setting up new characters & enjoyed this much more than other recent reboots or whatever-the-hell-they-are such as Halloween & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The killer reveal wasn’t at all surprising & the movie is pretty much just a rehash of the original Scream film but does it really matter? The new characters were fine & it will probably get a new generation into this series. I’ll certainly watch the next one but it would be great if it tried to do something a little less predictable.
And I agree with the Jenna Ortega character’s horror movie taste. I love The Babadook too.– 7/10
– Studio 666 – This looked like it would be bad bad instead of good bad so I had low expectations even though I love Dave Grohl & heavy metal & horror comedies. This movie was a blast. It’s not GREAT bad, like Road House, but it’s pure cheesy horror comedy fun. The acting was gloriously atrocious and you could tell that these guys must have had so many laughs while making this. It was also great seeing Taylor Hawkins (RIP) goofing off with Dave once again. A couple of the kills were hilariously inventive and I loved the movie band Dream Widow’s music (recorded by Grohl as a whole metal album because there’s nothing that dude can’t do). – 7/10
– Troll – This film follows every monster movie cliché imaginable… Which is EXACTLY what I want from a monster movie. It also has really likeable characters, funny nerds, a cute military guy and, most importantly, Norwegians & a massive troll. Therefore, I enjoyed it much more than most current Hollywood monster movies. – 7/10
– Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Enjoyed this but Knives Out was far superior so I did find it disappointing. It felt like it was trying too hard to be “wacky” and was just a bit too silly for me. The mystery also felt like an afterthought as the focus was more on how many big name stars they could get to play caricatures. This is sounding way more negative than it should… Glass Onion was fine. It was fun. It was just a little too goofy. I’d happily watch another Knives Out Mystery, though. I just want the next one to be more like the first film. – 6.5/10
– Marry Me – I liked this fine. Was better than I was expecting considering I didn’t even know it existed. Why have romcoms like this completely disappeared from cinemas? Not my favorite genre but I do miss these kind of movies from when they were mainstream & had big stars like in this one. Jennifer Lopez is good as a famous pop star (okay, not much of a stretch) who decides to marry random dude Owen Wilson in the audience at one of her concerts. The relationship is believable enough and they have surprisingly decent chemistry even though Lopez is entirely out of Wilson’s league. Still like Maid In Manhattan more but this was an enjoyably predictable romcom that I shouldn’t have discovered buried on one of my streaming services. – 6.5/10
– A Christmas Story Christmas – Being an American of a certain age, A Christmas Story is a Christmas Classic to me. I still clearly remember going to see it in the cinema when it was released & remember how much my dad & the audience were loving it. Was a little heartbroken when I moved to the U.K. and found that no one here likes it or even knows of it (my hubby hates it). So I was kind of excited to see a sequel all these years later but of course also very nervous as it had the potential to go very wrong.
I’d say it hasn’t done any damage to the original but, as with most of these sort of sequels, it also didn’t feel necessary. It was nice seeing so many of the original cast again in the same roles. Julie Hagerty replacing Melinda Dillon threw me out of things a bit, though. She was fine – I just hate different actors playing the same character. I had enough of that in American soap operas. The fan service scenes, and there were a lot, were fine by me. It’s a Christmas favorite & people just want to see the same thing again. To do anything too different from the original is too much of a risk with something like this so they played it very safe. It makes it a little boring, though. It’s pleasant & heartwarming & of course Christmassy but I’d feel no need to watch it again. I’ll stick with rewatching the original if I want to get into the Christmas spirit. – 6.5/10
– Good Luck To You, Leo Grande – I wish Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually could have had a Leo Grande. Thompson & Daryl McCormack are great together in this and he’s so damn handsome. A pleasurable film. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. – 7/10
– Barbarian – Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård. The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending.
I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer. – 6/10
– Shiva Baby – Another movie that didn’t live up to its cool poster. I do like dark comedy revolving around awkward social situations as I can always relate to being socially awkward so I enjoyed some of that here & really liked the parents. But I do struggle with characters who are just a little too unlikeable & self-absorbed so that was a bit frustrating. Rachel Sennott was very good in this, though – I’d be interested in seeing her in another role. I thought the film was well acted, it portrayed the pressure so often put on us by friends & family accurately, and it had an interesting score from what I can remember. It’s the type of film I can say I appreciated more than actually enjoyed. A “worth a one-time watch” movie for me. – 6.5/10
– Your Christmas Or Mine? – Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many Christmas romance movies. This one was cute enough, with a young couple deciding last minute to each go to the other person’s house for Christmas & then getting stranded & having to spend it with people they’d not yet met. Hilarity ensues! The girl’s family were really likeable & the story was extremely predictable but that’s what you want from a Christmas romcom, right? Worth watching once to get into the Christmas spirit but not one I’d add to my list of movies to watch every December.– 6/10
– Uncharted – An inoffensive & forgettable Indiana Jones crossed with The Goonies. But, you know, not nearly as good or as enjoyable as either of those. It passed the time. I saw it about a week ago & I’m already forgetting what happened in it besides some really dodgy OTT action shit involving planes & flying ships. – 6/10
– My Father’s Dragon – This was fine. It’s very “cute” and aimed quite young, which is a shame as it won’t appeal to all ages as much. I found the story a bit messy. The dragon was funny but in that borderline annoying kind of way (reminded me of Olaf from Frozen). Didn’t realize until finishing that it was a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some nice animation but it’s not in the same league as others from the studio such as The Secret Of Kells & Wolfwalkers. – 6/10
– The Bad Guys – Shouldn’t say much about this as I had it on while wrapping some gifts so admit I wasn’t paying much attention. It seemed like a decent enough heist movie with an extremely predictable story & villain but was probably fun for kids while also being fairly entertaining for their parents. Can’t say it made me want to stop what I was doing to fully watch it or to bother rewatching it at any point. I liked the snake dressed like he was in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, though. – 6/10
– About Fate – A romcom as predictable as expected but the setup at the start of the movie was cute enough. The characters had okay chemistry but the Emma Roberts character was too flaky for me to like and everyone kept making annoyingly bad decisions. There’s also a hateful influencer but at least she’s seen as the shallow baddie. The coat story was nice, though. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10
– Rosaline – I’ve clearly been trying to watch what I can of 2022 releases on services before this year ends. This was fine but yet another film I only watched as it’s a 2022 film on services & I’m not going to the cinema anymore to see what I most want to see. I’ve watched way too many movies that I wouldn’t have even bothered watching in the cinema. Depressing.
I appreciated the story in this, though. At least it felt original, which I can’t say of many current films. But I found most the characters slightly annoying including Kaitlyn Dever’s, who was fine in the role, but I’m not really a fan of any of her work that I’ve seen. To be fair, as I was watching this to “cross it off a list” at the last minute before the New Year, I probably didn’t give it much of a chance & wasn’t giving it my full attention. I just wish I could’ve seen more of the movies I really wanted to see in 2022. – 5.5/10
– The Northman – Tweeted five minutes into watching this thing that “I don’t have the patience for this shit”. And now I don’t have the patience for this review. That’s three Robert Eggers films I’ve suffered through now & I still can’t figure out what everyone sees in them. But I’ve decided that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. – 5/10
– Zola – Knew this was based on a Twitter thread so figured it must be a fascinating story to have been made into a movie. I was bored & the characters were annoying as hell. I’ve read many Twitter threads that were far more interesting than this story. It felt like this wanted to be a “smart” Spring Breakers (which I enjoyed for some bizarre reason) but this just felt even more shallow & pointless. To sound less negative, I’ll say that Taylour Paige & Riley Keough were good in the roles. But I couldn’t wait for the film to end. And then it didn’t even give us a proper ending anyway… – 5/10
– White Noise – I’ve not logged this film on Letterboxd as I didn’t watch it but it’s worth a mention here. I’ll watch any old shit & in my desperation to see more 2022 releases that I can watch at home, I put this on despite already knowing I tend to hate Noah Baumbach films. Think I managed maybe fifteen minutes? Good Lord, this thing was fucking unwatchable. Absolute torture. It’s not often that I completely give up on a movie so it’s getting the first ever Cinema Parrot Disco zero rating – 0/10
Shorts & Specials Watched In December:
– Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery – This was pretty dumb.
– Rewatched some of my usual Christmas favorites:Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol & Home Alone.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN DECEMBER
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Alice In Borderland: S2– I complained a bit about season 1 of this as, while it started out very strong, I didn’t like the final few episodes when the focus was no longer on the games & they spent far too long on unimportant & annoying characters. But this show really picked up again in season two & I ended up liking this entire show a lot. In fact, we’ve started rewatching it again from the start as it’s the kind of story where, once you get the full explanation (which you luckily DO), it’s good to rewatch from the start with a new perspective. Good stuff. Glad season two got back to the games, some of which were really cool, andback to characters we actually care about.Highly recommend if you liked Squid Game (but that one is still superior).
– The White Lotus: S2 E6-7 – Really enjoyed both seasons of this. I think the first season was a bit better but this one was still good too & the characters were great. Loved Jennifer Coolidge in both of these. Hope we get another season…
– Wednesday: S1 E2-8– Liked this show just fine. Daughter was very into it. I’d watch more if they did another season. I saw way too much of Jenna Ortega in December, though.
– Cabinet Of Curiosities: S1 E1-2 – First two episodes were okay but I wasn’t blown away. Will watch the rest when I get time.
– It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E4-5 – Still working my way through this. Really like the two brothers but the girl is such an odd character.
– The Peripheral: S1 E1 – Forgot I’d watched this. I’m intrigued but hope it gets better?
– I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Okay, I read another YA book but I don’t care – I like them. And I really liked this one & thought it was one of the better YA books I’ve read in quite a while. The twins were great & complex characters and I like how the story was told from their perspectives at different points in their lives. Good stuff. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.” – 4/5
I’m currently halfway through Fairy Tale by Stephen King & really enjoying it.
Blog Plans For The Coming Month:
Will try to post all my year end ranked lists this week if I have the energy. Very disappointing year for new movies.
I feel like I should end this post with something from the Studio 666 band Dream Widow. Happy New Year!
Happy New Year’s Eve! Was going to end on a couple of horror movie reviews this year but quickly wrote the below for my Letterboxd so I guess I’ll end on this one instead since it’s one of the better movies I saw in 2022… 🙂
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro & Mark Gustafson
Based on The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi
Starring: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Loosely based on the 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and strongly influenced by Gris Grimly’s illustrations for a 2002 edition of the book, it reimagines the story of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who comes to life as the son of his carver Geppetto, as “a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations, learning the true meaning of life” set in Fascist Italy during the interwar period and World War II.
This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.
Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.
Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years.
I wanted to end the year with two 2022 horror movies I found interesting. I reviewed Men yesterday & today is a film a lot of people raved over & I really didn’t want to be disappointed…
Directed & Written by Zach Cregger
Starring: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot sees a woman find out that the rental house she reserved has been accidentally double-booked with a man, while not knowing of a dark secret within the dwelling.
Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård.
The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending.
I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer.
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Men stars Jessie Buckley as a widowed woman who travels on holiday to a countryside village but becomes disturbed and tormented by the strange men in the village, all portrayed by Rory Kinnear.
I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror.
I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.
Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022.
Oops. Guess I better post this before the end of the year. And I’ll try to finish the year by posting what I watched in December but probably gonna need a break after that. 🙂
MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Drifting Home – Really enjoyed this. It’s a pretty typical anime with young characters who can be overly dramatic but I really liked the creative story & themes of memory, loss, and friendship. Starts out a little slow but really gets going once they start “drifting” away and there was some lovely animation. One of my favorite 2022 releases that I’ve seen. – 7.5/10
– Anomalisa – I appreciate most of Charlie Kaufman’s work but can’t say I’ve ever loved any of it. Anomalisa really worked for me, though. I’m not sure why. Think I could relate to the film’s main character in some ways & I liked Lisa (am also a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh so that helped too). Am always happy to see a film that feels unique & I really liked the story. Glad I finally gave this one a chance.
Oh – I also liked seeing “Starburns Industries” as the production company which made me go “Ha! Like Star-Burns in Community!” then finding out later that was actually the case as it was co-founded by Community creator Dan Harmon & Star-Burns himself Dino Stamatopoulos. So, hey – I like the Community link because that show rules. – 8/10
– Glengarry Glen Ross – ACTORS ACTING.
I didn’t know just how many big names were in this but, when I looked it up, it was seeing Jack Lemmon’s name that made me hit the Play button. Wow, he was great. Everyone in this was clearly trying for an Oscar nomination so I was very surprised to see that only Al Pacino was nominated just for being, well, Al Pacino yet again. They all deserve recognition for these roles but I thought Lemmon, Baldwin & Pacino (even though he’s just being Pacino) especially stood out.
If you like plays & intense ACTING from some all-time great actors, this is the film for you. It’s not really the type of film for me & not one I’d rewatch but I’ve rated it highly for the performances & the script & for Jack Lemmon. Well worth watching just to see these guys in action. – 7.5/10
– Relic – This was good. Reminded me a lot of another recent(ish) Australian horror The Babadook, which I absolutely loved & was also a very clever allegory (or is it a metaphor?! I always confuse those!). This is the type of “horror” I like. Found it quite heartbreaking. Need more horror films like this one. – 7/10
– My Summer Of Love – Enjoyed this English countryside drama with strong performances from Natalie Press as a working class girl who falls for rich girl Emily Blunt in her debut film role (and naked). Paddy Considine is also good as the born-again Christian brother of Press. Liked the relationship & how the film ended. From the director of Cold War. Check it out on BBC iPlayer. – 7/10
– Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – This was fun. Liked that it was a parody of a biography, which is the only thing that would make sense for a Weird Al movie. Especially liked the stuff with Madonna & some fun cameos. It’s not as good as his music videos, though, and certainly not in the same league as something like This Is Spinal Tap. But certainly worth a watch for Weird Al fans. – 6.5/10
– My Policeman – This was fine. I liked the story (I always love years of yearning) but the complete lack of chemistry between all the characters meant that the story didn’t have the emotional impact that I’m sure it probably had in the book. Everyone mentions Harry Styles but I was equally unimpressed with most of the performances except for maybe David Dawson’s. An okay film but may have been better with different leads. – 6.5/10
– The Wonder – Good atmosphere & could have used a lot more of the eerie music which I quite liked. Not gonna lie, though: “Florence Pugh” & “Period Drama” are two things that aren’t going to get me excited about watching a movie. Not my type of thing at all but this was an intriguing story, the young girl was good, and I liked the conclusion. Hated how they started & finished the film, though. Totally threw me out of the movie. – 6.5/10
– See How They Run – This movie, as most 2022 streaming releases, was okay. But that’s the problem… I’m so bored with okay movies. At least the ones I really hate tend to be more memorable. I thought Sam Rockwell & Saoirse Ronan worked really well together, though, which made this somewhat dull mystery far more watchable than it would have been without them. There’s some fun humor too. Certainly not a bad film but I know I’ll forget it even exists in a year. – 6.5/10
– Disenchanted – Wow, this was terrible. I shouldn’t “review” it as I fell asleep & missed a big chunk in the middle but I refuse to rewatch it. I saw enough to know I don’t want it to ruin the fun & original first film so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist just like I do with the Disney live-action remakes. Still love Amy Adams, though. She’s still lovely & did what she could with this absolute mess. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched In November:
– Father Of The Bride – Watched this with the family. Been many years since I last saw this one. I’d say it’s actually held up better than some of the early ‘90s rom-coms. We could use more good father/daughter family films. This is sweet without being overly saccharine. The only annoying bit was when she freaked out over a blender. What?! I don’t remember us being offended by trivial things back in 1991. Also… Steve Martin’s family are meant to be “middle class” compared to the fiancé’s family but live in a big gorgeous house in a lovely neighborhood and can afford a ridiculously expensive wedding. Cry me a river! My daughter loved Martin Short, though. Think she’s a fan since seeing Martin & Short together in Only Murders In The Building. His character is fun & does threaten to steal the whole show in this film. – 7/10
Shorts Watched In November:
– Zen – Grogu & Dust Bunnies – Studio Ghibli & Grogu?! Two of my favorite things ever?!? My heart just about exploded when I watched this. Now if they could add in Totoro, R2-D2, WALL-E & Snoopy I’d need no new media to ever be made again. Loved this. So adorable & peaceful. And Ludwig Göransson‘s score is brilliant (as always). Works beautifully with the Ghibli style.
– The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special – This was…. Not great. Very cheesy. But did like seeing more of Drax & Mantis together.
– Minions & More – Yeah, I like the minions. I don’t care. I think they’re funny.
– The Wonderful Autumn Of Mickey Mouse – Bit of an odd one… Wasn’t really a fan. Give me old school Mickey Mouse.
– Zootopia Shorts – Meh. Not big on the movie but these shorts were fine (except that dumb Real Housewives one because god I can’t stand that type of shit…)
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER
Been watching quite a bit of TV. Which is fine but it’s cutting into movie-time. 🙂
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The White Lotus: S2 E1-5 – Really liked the first series & feel the same about this one. Good characters & I always like a murder mystery where you don’t know who ends up being the victim. But, mainly, it’s all about Jennifer Coolidge. Love her. Best thing about The White Lotus.
– Wednesday: S1 E1 – Think we’d only seen one episode in November but now seen through episode 5. Enjoying the story and the characters are growing on me. Teen daughter seems to love it so that makes me happy.
– Andor: S1 E9-12 – Ended up thinking this was a really good series overall after a few episodes I wasn’t feeling so much. All the prison stuff & the funeral were fantastic. A very strong couple of episodes at the end of this series.
– House Of The Dragon: S1 E8-10 – Was gonna write more about this now I’m finished but can’t be arsed. 🙂 It’s fine but definitely inferior to Game Of Thrones. Much better character development in Thrones. I’ll again say I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra. And the incest is just fucking nuts in this one. Game Of Thrones was bad enough with that. Ew.
Also been rewatching the pilots of various old ’70s & ’80s shows on YouTube for the nostalgia. Never see this stuff re-run in the U.K. Very much missing the sitcoms of my youth. Really enjoyed rewatching the pilots of It’s Your Move, The Facts Of Life, Benson & Taxi.
– Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – Ended up really enjoying this trilogy (review of first book here and second book here). It’s one of those made much better by turning the story into a trilogy & really getting to know the character of Gwendy. I liked how they went all out in the final book. I mean, she manages to get herself up into space in order to try to finally rid the planet of the dangerous button box. That could’ve turned out ridiculous but I thought it worked well & I always love a story set in space. Also enjoyed King having fun with the rich asshole character who is SO obviously modelled on Tr*mp. – 3.5/5
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Gonna try to catch up on watching as many 2022 films as I can before the year ends. Man, 2022 has been another shit year for movies! Massively disappointing. As far as what’s made it to streaming, at least. Hoping some of what I missed in cinemas was good.
As I adored Ghibli Grogu & Ludwig Göransson‘s score, I need to end with a clip of that music:
Guess I better post my October roundup before it’s time to post my November one.
I don’t know if many people are still around on WordPress but I’ve set up a new Mastodon account here. I don’t plan to give up this blog – just going through a tough time. Am still on Twitter as well for now as @tableninemutant but am most active here on Letterbxdas it’s just so easy to log movies there. Re-posting all my October Letterbxd reviews below…
MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):
– Memories Of Murder – Was very happy to see this on Film4. I’d been wanting to watch it even though I’ve never absolutely loved one of Bong Joon-ho‘s films. I do think Parasite is very good & I really like The Host so I was willing to give more of his work a try despite not liking Snowpiercer & Okja. I’m also not a fan of true-crime-inspired murder films, especially involving sexual violence as well, but this was very gripping & I thought it was damn good despite being a genre I often avoid. Due to the subject matter it again won’t exactly be a favorite of mine but it easily ranks just a fraction below Parasite for me. I think it maybe just takes a bit of getting used to his flawed & not always likeable characters to appreciate his films more. His type of characters worked perfectly in this & in Parasite so I can see why they seem to be the most popular of his films. I feel I have a slightly better understanding of his work now since watching this & Barking Dogs Never Bite (also on Film4 & also worth a watch). – 8/10￼￼
– Rhapsody In August – I can’t believe I accidentally watched an Akira Kurosawa film. Absolutely love his films Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Rashômon & Yojimbo so have had all the rest of his biggest films on my watchlist for a long time now. I liked the sound of this 1991 Japanese film with Richard Gere, which focuses on the effects of the atomic bomb on three generations of a family, so I started watching it before even realising it was a Kurosawa. It’s a lovely film & I really liked the grandmother and her relationship with the grandkids she’s looking after while their parents are visiting family in America. Definitely worth a watch, especially for Kurosawa fans. Currently on services in the U.K. – 7.5/10
– Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – I’m a huge Stephen King fan & try to watch every adaptation of his work (I ranked them all here). Really liked this novella from the recent If It Bleeds collection & literally started watching this the second it appeared on Netflix. So I’m obviously going to be overly positive as I tend to like even the bad King adaptations (and there are many bad ones) but I thought this was good & faithful to the book. Jaeden Martell, who was also in the fantastic 2017 version of It, and Donald Sutherland were very good together & I especially liked Kirby Howell-Baptiste as the helpful teacher. This is more of a thriller than a horror so it may not be what some are expecting if they’ve not read the story but it’s still very “King”. I enjoyed it. One of the better straight-to-streaming movies this year. – 7.5/10
– Everything Everywhere All At Once – Was very eager to get to finally see this after all the hype & seeing it at the top of so many 2022 movie lists. It looked like it could very much be my type of thing & I do love a good “weird” film. Wow – what a massive disappointment. Am I just getting too picky in my old age or is everyone else getting less picky? I’ve been very disappointed with the most hyped films the past few years but was really hoping this one would be different.
Don’t get me wrong – I did get some enjoyment out of this & always appreciate when something is unique & unpredictable. I always prefer a memorable film, even when bad, to the many bland movies which I can’t even remember a year later. Michelle Yeoh was great and there were many memorable moments that the hubby & I have already referenced a few times since watching this. It was certainly weird, which I like, but I found the story & message to be such a convoluted mess overall that it started to feel like a chore just to make it through to the end. It’s a film I’m glad I watched & experienced to see what all the fuss was about but I’d have no desire to ever watch it again. – 6.5/10
– Barking Dogs Never Bite – Watched this just after Memories Of Murder & think I’m starting to appreciate Bong Joon-ho‘s work a little more now. While this one isn’t nearly as good as Memories Of Murder, it still has his typical sort of flawed characters that work so well in (most of) his movies. The only times I’ve not liked his films were when the characters were too over-the-top in Snowpiercer & Okja but this film is much more subtle. Probably not one I’d watch again but certainly worth a one-time watch to see his early work. – 6.5/10
– The Company Of Wolves – RIP to the fantastic Angela Lansbury. Always loved her & managed to finally see this one just before her death. She’s perfect as Granny. This is a very odd film & I’m not sure it has aged well but I enjoyed it & can see why it will have fans who saw this one back in the ‘80s when they were kids. Am sure I’d appreciate it more if I’d seen it then. It’s slow & dated but has some fun dream sequences & special effects & creepy horniness. Worth finally seeing but don’t think it’ll be a horror favorite of mine now. – 6.5/10
– Catherine Called Birdy – Well this was far more enjoyable than I was expecting. Bella Ramsey aka GoT’s Lyanna Mormont absolutely steals the show as a medieval teenager trying to avoid being married off by her father. It’s a fun coming of age story for girls with a funny & relatable teenage character as well as plenty of humor to be appreciated by adults seeing this too. Worth a watch. And for fans, I believe there are at least five Game Of Thrones actors in this (or more if I missed any). – 6.5/10￼
– The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent – Like Everything Everywhere All At Once, this was a big disappointment after a fair amount of hype. Both films were… Just okay? I think you do have to be a Nicolas Cage fan to fully appreciate this one. I’d say I neither like nor dislike him but do like his film choices, such as the brilliant Mandy. So I did enjoy some of the film references but thought the plot wasn’t nearly as clever as Being John Malkovich and I got a bit bored. I also found his talking to one of his movie characters really stupid – It seems like that should have worked but it didn’t. And that dumb kiss. I think the movie tries a bit too hard at times & not hard enough at other times. Hell, if you’re gonna do a movie like this that’s clearly for big Nicolas Cage fans, you might as well go all out with even more fan service than what they had (which was still plenty). With Cage being known for being the crazy dude in so many movies, it was kind of disappointing that this movie wasn’t as weird and over-the-top as I was expecting. – 6.5/10
– X – Not sure how I feel about Ti West. I’ve liked but never loved his films. Thought The House Of The Devil was the best & captured that era well. Didn’t think that worked as well with this one trying for a late ‘70s porn vibe. Guess people just liked watching the porn sex?? I thought the story was ridiculously dumb & I didn’t care about any of the characters. Mia Goth did well in her dual role, I guess. Pearl looks like it may be a little more interesting since we got absolutely zero character development in this film. X isn’t terrible but I’d have no desire to ever watch it again. Easily my least favorite Ti West film. – 6/10
– Pinocchio (2022) – Yeah… This is pretty bad but I’d had such extremely low expectations that I kind of didn’t hate it. Honestly, I hated the live action Beauty And The Beastmuch more. Maybe because I really love that animated film but Pinocchio isn’t a big favorite? But I like the story & the overall story is still the same, so… I don’t know what else to say. What’s the point?? These live action Disney remakes are just so bloody pointless. I liked the blatant Disney cuckoo clocks, though. Pathetic, I know. But I want some of those. – 5.5/10
– Matriarch – This was pretty bad. It’s one of those horror movies that might be a bit better if every single character wasn’t so damn hateful. Why would I care what happens to the horrible woman in this? I’ll give it this: It gets pretty f*^king weird at the end & I appreciated the Society vibes. But what started out as a fairly creepy film became silly at the end as it got too ridiculous. – 5/10
– Blonde – This movie looks nice & Ana de Armas is good at being pretty & tortured but what is the point of this story? I admit I know almost nothing about Marilyn Monroe’s life so I should have just avoided this but I had to see why everyone was so outraged. Why take a real person & make up a bunch of stuff? Why not just create a fictional character & make your rape, abuse & forced-abortion movie without using a dead iconic movie star’s name? Oh yeah – because no one would watch that movie. And I hate people saying “But it’s fictional!”. Yes, us obsessive film fans know that. We look into this kind of info. But the casual movie-watching audience don’t. So there will be plenty of people who saw this & now will think this is her true life story.
I only fairly recently started exploring Monroe’s work & she really had that special something that a lot of the old classic movie stars had that so few have today. Which I guess is why there’s still such an obsession with her all these years later but, FFS, let the woman rest in peace. She deserves better than this. Just watch her movies instead of Blonde. I saw something on Twitter about Blonde’s director trashing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is an absolutely delightful film so I assume that statement was made just to cause further outrage. I’m annoyed that I fell for all the controversy that was clearly stirred up on purpose just to get us all to watch this. Sorry, Marilyn! – 4.5/10
Rewatched In October:
– Final Destination – Still think this movie had a great & original idea, which is something I’d like a lot more of in horror. First rewatch in many years & I think it still stands up very well. Easily my favorite of those I’ve seen (1, 2 & 3). I can see why they kept using this idea over & over again even though horror sequels get tiresome. The next two were okay, though. – 7.5/10
– Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – This movie is silly but it came out when I was in high school so I liked it. It so clearly wanted to be Adventures In Babysitting from a few years before but it pales in comparison to that masterpiece (yes, I adore that movie). This is still a fun but dated comedy. The daughter seemed to enjoy it. – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– House Of The Dragon: S1 E1-7 – Enjoyed this (finished it in November). But! It’s certainly no Game Of Thrones when that was at its best in the early seasons. The characters aren’t nearly as likeable nor as interesting as they were in GoT but, hell, not many shows can beat a character as good as Tyrion Lannister. Or a family as cool as the Starks. Will say a bit more about this show in the November Roundup post. Maybe. I’ll just say this: I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra, Milly Alcock, to the older one played by Emma D’Arcy. But I often hate changes in actors, such as when everyone got replaced in The Crown. Both Alicents were good, though, and Paddy Considine was great. But, again, I can’t keep these millions of characters straight, just as with GoT. And the fuckers in this one all have such similar names, which really didn’t help either.
– Andor: S1 E5-8 – Forget which episode was which as I’ve now seen more than just these. I’ll say this show started strong, then I got a tiny bit bored, then the stuff in the prison was great & I’m really enjoying it again. It’s a very strong Star Wars entry (and I still think it’s better than The Book Of Boba Fett & Obi-Wan Kenobi, probably because it isn’t messing with beloved OT characters in the same way).
– It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E1-3 – An intriguing South Korean show I’m in the middle of watching with my daughter (a rewatch for her – she loves it).
– She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E8 – Said a lot about this in last month’s roundup so I’ll just say again that I enjoyed this show. Was a good bit of lightweight fun. And I liked the final episode, especially when she asked about the X-Men.
Have a collection of horror short stories from various authors so read the 3 Stephen King shorts in it. Think I’d read two of them in other collections:
– Reploids – Don’t think I’d read this before. Fun story but ended SO abruptly…
– Dedication – One of King’s more fucked-up stories but still, um, intriguing I guess. Leave it up to King to think this one up. Also saw a quite good short film of this as part of his “Dollar Babies” deal. Kudos to the actress willing to play this role.
– Sneakers – Enjoyable story about a ghost haunting a recording studio
Can’t remember any good songs from the movies I saw in October so I’ll end instead with the real Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend from the delightful Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:
Hey all! I saw some good movies in September because some decent ones actually popped up on my services. Yay! 🙂 But life still sucks.
Oh – Happy October! I wasn’t up to doing a Halloween Horror Month this year.
Here we go with what I watched last month…
MOVIES WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– The Red Shoes – The Red Shoes is yet another absolutely beautiful piece of work from Powell & Pressburger This is the third film of theirs that I’ve seen. I first saw A Matter Of Life And Death a few years ago & was blown away. That film should as well known as the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life but I’d not even heard of it while living in America. So I then watched Black Narcissus which was also stunning & have been desperate to see The Red Shoes ever since. I was delighted to see it pop up on BBC iPlayer (available 16 more days if you’re in the U.K., FYI. I highly recommend).
I’ve been back & forth on if this or Black Narcissus would rank second after A Matter Of Life And Death for me. I think Black Narcissus has the edge as, quite literally, the visuals of that bell on the edge of that gorgeous cliff will stay with me forever & I loved the overall look and mood of that whole film. The Red Shoes is a very close third, though. The only thing that lets it down slightly is that it’s all about the performance of the Red Shoes ballet in the middle of the film, which is easily one of the greatest dance numbers I’ve ever seen in a film. Maybe the very best. It’s breathtakingly perfect. So I think the rest of the film just doesn’t quite manage to live up to that big moment but the story is still good and there are other great visuals & dance moments to enjoy. And, man, I loved her red hair & how that looked with those red shoes. They truly don’t make them like this anymore… – 8.5/10
– Santa Sangre – Where do I start with this?! It’s an Alejandro Jodorowsky film so I guess I got what I was expecting. It’s violent, utterly bizarre, and strangely fascinating. I want to watch every film he’s made (as well as those he didn’t – his Dune would have been insane).
Think I slightly prefer El Topo mainly because it’s even weirder (which is saying something). Santa Sangre has an almost coherent story in comparison – It’s really just an even more fucked-up Psycho. I do absolutely love a circus setting so enjoyed that a lot & really liked the mime/tightrope girl who befriends the main character (again played by a couple of Jodorowsky‘s sons). I liked that part of the story & as always liked watching something so strange & completely unpredictable.
I think this film has grown on me since I watched it. Maybe I actually prefer it to El Topo. It’s one of those films where I want to do a separate full review with lots of images as there are so many interesting ones but I’m too lazy so I’ll just stick two extra images below. I’ll certainly never forget either of the two films of Jodorowsky’s that I’ve seen so far, which is something I appreciate. Guess I need to finally see The Holy Mountain now too. – 8/10
– Thor: Love And Thunder – I have serious superhero burnout but I like the content enough to continue to watch all the Marvel films & TV shows. Some are good, some are not-so-good, but I wouldn’t really care if they stopped making them all. With the movies, I prefer when they don’t take things so seriously. I find many of the dark & dreary superhero movies pathetic (but that’s not the MCU). So I loved Guardians Of The Galaxy & I enjoyed when Thor went “silly” with Ragnarok as, quite frankly, the character of Thor was pretty but bloody boring before Ragnarok. But this one looked like it was going to be a little too silly & reviews seemed very mixed so I had low expectations.
I enjoyed this. Ragnarok is still better & this does indeed get a little too silly at times but I liked the villain’s & Jane’s stories. Christian Bale was a fantastic villain (and I’m not a Bale fan). I also thought they handled Portman’s role in this very well without it feeling like forced “girl power” which just doesn’t work. I wanted much more of Thor with the Guardians Of The Galaxy as I think they’re hilarious together but at least we got a little bit. Liked the jealousy thing with Thor’s weapons, too. And the nudity. And all the Guns N’ Roses making me feel like I was back in high school (I’ve just dated myself).
This was fun & a better film than I expected. It’s not gonna win any Oscars. I can absolutely see why some would love it & some would hate it as the sillier side of the MCU isn’t for everyone. I think it helps to balance out some pretty damn depressing stuff going on too. Poor Thor has had a terrible time & watching him go through all this tragedy with absolutely no humour would turn this into the dark & dreary type of superhero movie I can’t stand. At the moment, I’d rank this just outside of my MCU top ten (all ranked here). But I may change my mind & it could move down slightly. – 7.5/10
– Cyrano – Liked this much more than I was expecting. I don’t know the story of Cyrano de Bergerac all that well (mainly just the Steve Martin Roxanne version, sorry!) so it’s not a story I mind them messing with as it doesn’t mean much to me. Peter Dinklage is easily the best thing about this & I liked him a lot as Cyrano. Haley Bennett is also good as Roxanne & seemed to be a far better singer than her male co-stars (by the way, I recommend watching her in the great film Swallow). The songs in Cyrano weren’t very memorable but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Overall, Dinklage & Bennett and the unique tragic love story make this worth watching but I’m not sure I loved it as a musical. The film is far from perfect but it still has plenty going for it to give it a watch. – 7/10
– No Retreat, No Surrender – Continuing my over-30-years-late JCVD obsession, I found this godawful delight from 1985. A bullied teenage boy is visited & trained by the ghost of his idol Bruce Lee. Seriously. I kind of loved this. Pure ‘80s cheese, which always makes me nostalgic. The only downside is that JCVD is barely in this. Plus he’s a baddie. I like ass-kicking mullet-head sexy-splits good-guy Van Damme. This one deserves two extra images too. Look at the beautiful pure-eighties-ness of that photo with the boombox! And we gotta see JCVD doing the sexy splits again… – 6.5/10
– A Walk In The Clouds – A Keanu Reeves movie I never saw?! This was fine. Liked the story & the romance. Not always big on romance films but, man, I love the idea of engaging in some sexy grape-stomping with Keanu. Nice. (It didn’t turn into a full-on grape orgy like in Seconds, though. Sorry Film Miasma & Podferatu!). This movie got so ridiculously dramatic at the end that I had to knock off half a point, though. But I still love Keanu. – 6.5/10
– Paddington 2 – Everyone went on about this being the best thing since sliced (marmalade) bread so I figured I better finally watch it even though I barely remember the first film. What are you all on about?! Ha! This movie is fine. It’s very sweet. Very family-friendly. Paddington is a great character & I like the voice work, the animated stuff with the pop-up book is fantastic, the Wes Anderson-y color palette in the prison is fun, and Hugh Grant is a very good villain. Maybe I was just expecting this movie to change my life after all the Film Twitter hype. Nope! Life is still the same. – 6.5/10
– Fire Island – This was good, lightweight fun. Enjoyed the two main romances. We had a good “will they or won’t they”, “love/hate” connection between two of the characters which I really enjoyed & a more romantic story with two of the others. This group of friends were a lot of fun & I’d love hanging out & playing games with them. How could that guy not instantly know the answer was Marisa Tomei?! Loved that bit.
I see this movie was inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Suppose I should put down the Stephen King for a change & finally read that one someday, huh? – 6.5/10
– Do Revenge – I know I’m an old Gen-X lady but, up until just the last couple years, I still enjoyed teen movies. I could still relate to them as we all went through our teens & know how difficult they can be. The Edge Of Seventeen is a good recent(ish) example – I liked that a lot. Am I now finally out of touch? Because I can’t relate to the narcissistic shitbags in this & in Not Okay in any way whatsoever.
I did like how this started out with Clueless vibes at the school. I later wondered if part of the issue was “rich kids” because we’re all meant to hate the rich. Right? Did no one see Pretty In Pink?! But then I realized they’re rich in Clueless too but that movie is great fun and the characters are very likeable. The problem isn’t dark humor, either, as I love dark humor. I just don’t think this movie manages that well (if that’s what it’s going for?). So the most obvious comparison in that case is Heathers. Then I realized everyone is a Heather in this movie. Everyone aspires to be a Heather & assumes the audience does too. And, damn, I guess that’s accurate judging by social media & influencers. When Heathers came out, we all wanted to be Veronica. Sorry, slight spoiler: By the end you realize there’s no Veronica in this movie. So who the hell am I meant to care about in this world full of Heathers?
Oh well. I didn’t “hate” this movie as much as it seems. It had a good idea. I liked the thought of teaming up with someone to go after each other’s bullies. Who doesn’t love a good revenge movie? And the twists & turns were kind of fun up until the end when the character you thought you liked turns out to be kind of a shitbag too. And when the main character who got screwed over at the beginning still doesn’t manage to make you care about her predicament by the end since she’s only slightly less of a shitbag than she was at the start. Actually, come to think of it, the boy she hooks up with was a decent character… Guess he’s the Veronica. Their paint scene was good. And having Sarah Michelle Gellar as the headmaster was a smart move to get us old turds to watch this. Hey – they’re all rich & hateful in Cruel Intentions too but I loved that movie. Because it had one nice character & one who does stop being a shitbag at the end.
I liked this a bit more than Be Okay, at least. I didn’t find either a waste of time – I just prefer to have fewer shitbags in a movie. – 6/10
– Me Time – This isn’t great but it’s also not the worst “dumb comedy” I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous but at least the family are likeable while husband/father Hart does stupid shit with his manchild friend Wahlberg. Not gonna lie – I liked the guy desperate to not go back to Legoland. And the stuff with the tortoise. But I won’t remember a thing about this movie in a few years. – 6/10
– Horror Express – I thought this film was awful. I watched it as it stars the almighty horror icons Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing and I badly need to see much more of their work. So I settled for this on iPlayer when what I really want is for the Hammer Horror stuff to be available to me. I did very much enjoy seeing Lee & Cushing but I can’t recommend watching this for any other reason. It doesn’t even manage to be a “so bad it’s good” movie. But maybe I’m wrong – it seems to have a decent rating from other Letterboxd users. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched In September:
– The Prestige – Still think this film is brilliant after another rewatch for the first time in years. I’m very much not a Christopher Nolan fan but The Prestige is his one film I do love & it’s an all-time favorite. Absolutely love the story (I don’t know how much credit Nolan can take on that as I’ve not read the book it’s based on). Jackman & Bale have such a fantastic rivalry & the film’s setting in the world of magic is great. And, of course, David Bowie is cool as hell as Tesla. Still love this film. Still hate Interstellar. – 9/10
– Rogue One – When I first saw this one in the cinema, I didn’t instantly love it. But I thought I better rewatch it before Andor & I have to say this film has now gone up in my estimation quite a lot. I think that’s partly due to being so disappointed with the final two films in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, which I find I’m growing to dislike more & more as time goes by. Almost to the point where I now wish the sequel trilogy didn’t exist…
So I think I now really appreciate Rogue One as a separate story that does no damage to the original trilogy that I’ve loved since I was a kid. And, so far, I’m really liking the Andor series (more than The Book Of Boba Fett & maybe even the Obi-Wan Kenobi series). I think I’ve just had enough of them messing with beloved characters that should maybe just be left alone. I certainly loved The Mandalorian far more than the sequel trilogy, too.
But what I’d really like is a Chirrut spin-off. Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus were great & are still my favorite characters from Rogue One. Loved K-2SO too, of course. Star Wars droids are always the best. – 8/10
– The Simpsons: Welcome To The Club – Oh wow – I don’t even remember this now. Must have been good, huh?! These Disney Plus Simpsons shorts, especially the ones that are just Disney adverts, haven’t been great…
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN SEPTEMBER
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Cobra Kai: Season 5– Still adore Cobra Kai! Yes, it’s really getting “same old same old” now. But I don’t care. It’s so much fun. And I still love Johnny. I really should’ve rewatched Karate Kid III before this series, though, as I don’t remember it so all of those characters didn’t mean anything to me.
– Andor: S1 E1-4– As above, I rewatched Rogue One because this was starting & liked it way more on a rewatch. I think this show is really good so far. Definitely better than The Book Of Boba Fett. We’ll see by the end if I also prefer it to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
– She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E3-7 – Okay. You know what? I enjoy watching this show each week. Yes, She-Hulk twerking was absolute cringe. Yes, the show is silly. It’s a sitcom, people! They’ve gone no more silly with this than with the last two Thor films. I can see why some hate this show as you’re either going to love silly Marvel or you aren’t. But the outrage online is scary. Good Lord. As an OLD woman, I can’t always relate to the very millennial & “woke” take this show often has. But as a woman I can still relate to a lot of it. I liked the wedding episode. I liked episode 7 which reminded me a lot of that great Toy Story short Small Fry where they’re all having that group therapy session. I like She-Hulk especially when she’s Jennifer Walters. She has a fun attitude but plenty of insecurities a lot of women will relate to. Is this show hated because it’s so aimed at women? I assume so. God knows. Don’t get me wrong – it’s FAR from perfect & would get an average sort of rating from me if I rated TV shows like I do movies. I don’t know – maybe 6/10? The effects look bloody awful most of the time but, ha, whatever – I grew up with the ’70s The Incredible Hulk TV show so I think I can handle that. Honestly, though, I’d be happier with some different, big-muscled woman just playing the She-Hulk version of Jennifer Walters instead of weird-looking CGI stuff. But, be honest, Hulk looks pretty shit in the MCU films too so whatever. I’m mostly annoyed that her clothes aren’t nearly baggy enough on her when she goes back to being tiny Jennifer. This show is a fun little throwaway comedy that I find entertaining for half an hour each week. Nothing to get mad about.
– The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This book isn’t very “me” but I have to put down the Stephen King books & the lightweight thrillers & the YA stuff and read something different occasionally. It’s a good story that would make for a really good movie so I’d like to see that happen. Man, Evelyn Hugo is a pretty hateful character, though. I normally hate that but she’s an intriguing character & I of course really went for the fact that she’s a huge movie star telling a writer her life story & it’s all about her glanorous life in the world of Hollywood filmmaking. I’ll always like movie-related stories so I liked that. Why don’t they just make a movie like the story in this book based on a fictional movie star instead of using Marilyn Monroe & making up a bunch of untrue crap about her? – 3/5
Here’s the ballet in The Red Shoes but I’d really recommend watching the whole movie instead:
Hi all. I’m behind. Life is shitty. Thank god for movies! Wish more of them were better, though. Well, most of these weren’t too bad. Here’s what I watched back in August…
MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):
– Top Gun: Maverick – Finally managed to make it to see this. Have liked Top Gun since going to see it in 1986 so was excited to see what Maverick was going to be like all these years later (and if he was still as cocky).
Thought this was a great sequel. They stayed very true to his character and, although there’s admittedly lots of fan service, I thought it was all done very well & will have put a smile on the face of old Top Gun fans while also being just as enjoyable for a new generation. They even managed to get sweaty men playing sexy sweaty sports together again! Jennifer Connelly looked fantastic, the new generation of pilots were a lot of fun, and Tom Cruise proved once again that he’s a true old school movie star (I miss those). And their mission was great, edge of your seat action.
The film may have been a little overhyped but I think that’s because we get so few truly great blockbuster action films these days (that don’t involve superheroes…). Growing up in the ‘80s still has me expecting to get movies like this one all the time. Where did they go? They seem to have disappeared along with the really good rom-coms. Man, I miss movies. – 8/10
– Easter Parade – Finally exploring more of Judy Garland’s work & she was again a delight to watch in this. What a fantastic performer she was. And it made me realise that I’ve also shockingly not seen much of Fred Astaire‘s work either so I really need to change that. Some fun numbers in this one, especially Steppin’ Out With My Baby, We’re A Couple Of Swells & the one with Astaire dancing in the shop with the drums. Good stuff! Kind of glad I’m too broke to watch many current films so am watching a lot of older ones which put all the modern movies to shame. – 7.5/10
– Prey – This was surprisingly good. I’m not like “Oh my god this is the best thing EVER and better than the first film!” like some people. What?! No way. But I’m glad people enjoyed it. I think we’re all just happy to get a straight-to-streaming film that doesn’t suck. For me, it’s my third favorite Predator film but far superior to those I’d rank after it. Sorry, I really like Predator 2! But it was great to get what felt like a fresh take on an existing story. I guess that’s the most we can hope for these days, although I’d still prefer more entirely original standalone films.
Enjoyed Amber Midthunder’s performance & of course liked seeing a strong female lead in a role that worked perfectly & didn’t feel forced (I hate forced “girl power”). Liked that it didn’t wuss out on the violence either. I might moan a bit less about sequels if they were at least as good as this one. But I also have to admit that I’d probably not watch this one again – I’d rather just rewatch the first film. – 7.5/10
– Thirteen Lives – This was really good & I think Ron Howard is great at making these kind of films. Even knowing the true story & how it ended, it was intense watching that amazing rescue. What a horrible ordeal. My only complaint is that we didn’t get to know the boys at all. I wanted more stories from their lives the way they gave us some backstories of the rescuers. Was disappointed that we didn’t even see the boys for a very long time after they disappeared. I thought we’d see more of their time together in the cave & what they had to go through while trapped & not knowing if anyone would ever find them. The movie is quite long so I think they could have easily had much more character development & a little less time spent on all the technical details of the rescue. Preparing for the rescue was of course fascinating but also something we can all read about as it was such a big story when it happened. – 7.5/10
– Lightyear – I adore Pixar so wasn’t sure what to expect of this one as I knew it would feel quite different from other Pixar films. I liked it far more than recent releases Turning Red, Luca & Onward but far less (of course) than Pixar’s very best films which are all-time favorite movies of mine. I do miss the days when Pixar could do no wrong.
I did enjoy this, though, and didn’t mind that it didn’t feel like Pixar to me. I keep going back & forth on my rating – I think it’s one I could do with watching again to see if my opinion changes but I originally gave it 3.5/5 on Letterboxd as I loved the cat Sox & really liked the sweet family moments with Buzz Lightyear’s second in command & her granddaughter. At least one or two scenes involving the granddaughter contained those “touching moments” that only Pixar can do so well. So those things originally earned this movie an extra half a star but, storywise, this wasn’t anything that special and certainly not as brilliantly inventive as things like Monsters, Inc & Toy Story. And I love sci-fi so I enjoyed the setting but was still a little bored by the story & also not a fan of the ending & the villain.
I don’t know. Still a little undecided on this one. Think I’ll definitely try to watch it again soon. If I do decide to give it an extra half star, it’ll mainly be for Sox. So at least Pixar still know how to give us a fun sidekick. Will also see if its ranking changes but for now this is my full Pixar ranking. – 7/10
– I Lost My Body – This was good. Some lovely animation but incredibly sad. Telling the lead character’s story from the perspective of his severed hand was certainly unique & I liked that. Although I spent the whole time hoping it was somehow someone else’s hand when it was so obviously his but, damn, I just wanted a happy ending for this poor guy! Thought the girl was far too hard on him & that what he did was very sweet. Probably deserves a higher rating but was just too much of a downer for me, which I could do without at the moment. But I appreciate the originality in its storytelling. – 7/10
– Frenzy – I became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock at a very young age when I saw Rear Window as well as the TV shows he presented, which I adored along with The Twilight Zone. But for whatever reason I had never seen Frenzy. Possibly because it appealed to me the least as I’m not a fan of serial killer or gritty true crime inspired murder movies. And I love the look of films from the ugly ‘70s but it’s not what I want from a Hitchcock film. For me, it’s his stylish ‘50s & ‘60s films that I love the most. They’re gorgeous. If I want to see ugly, dirty ‘70s horror I’ll watch a Giallo film. At least the Argento stuff is much more visually appealing than Frenzy.
Frenzy has that sort of Giallo vibe, though (I think – I’m not an expert having only seen Argento’s work) so I’m not sure why I didn’t like it a bit more. As I said, I think it’s partly because ”trashy” is not what I want from a Hitchcock film. I think it also didn’t help that the characters were all so hateful. I didn’t really care that the guy was wrongly accused of the murders since he was such a prick anyway. Plus I’m never a fan of rape scenes. It depends how they’re handled but it seemed more gratuitous than necessary in this. I suppose Hitchcock was probably just thrilled to get some nudity on screen. And I’m sure the one rape joke in it won’t go down well with younger people who might watch this now but I judge these things based on society’s attitudes at the time something was made so it seemed accurate.
Oh well. It’s still a well made ‘70s crime film & I did get some enjoyment out of the story but it certainly won’t be a favorite Alfred Hitchcock film for me. There are still plenty of his oldest films that I have yet to see but I suppose I should make a list ranking his films. I’m thinking that this one would currently be at the very bottom of the list. It just doesn’t hold a candle to his true masterpieces. I’m probably being a bit too harsh as this movie obviously had a lot to live up to, though. It just doesn’t seem like it could be from the same person who made Rear Window, Vertigo & Psycho.
Slight spoiler: I thought the woman in the bed at the end was the mother, which would have been a better ending. Oh! And I liked that Billie Whitelaw was in this. The Omen is brilliant. – 7/10
– Look Both Ways – This was fine. Safe. Wholesome. Nice. Bland. I should knock half a star off my rating as I know I’ll completely forget this movie in a year but it’s just so harmless that I’d feel bad doing that. Sliding Doors did a better job with this concept but at least we don’t have to watch Gwyneth in this one so that’s a plus.
Okay, I’m sounding way too negative for such a completely inoffensive film. It’s a pleasant, weekend afternoon watch. And it was nice having fairly likeable characters in this unlike the insufferable twats in other streaming recents such as Not Okay & Do Revenge. – 6.5/10
– Bob’s Burgers: The Movie – I have no clue why I watched this as I’ve never seen the show. It would be like watching The Simpsons Movie having never seen that show. Well, The Simpsons Movie wouldn’t have made me want to watch The Simpsons and this movie hasn’t made me want to watch Bob’s Burgers, which is probably unfair as I’m sure the show is much better (isn’t it always??). But I did enjoy the story & got a few giggles out of it even though it’s not exactly laugh out loud humor. I can see why it has fans, though, as these characters probably grow on you. I liked the kid with the hat. Easily the best character for me (in the movie, at least). – 6.5/10
– Licorice Pizza – I find Paul Thomas Anderson hit or miss (the only ones I really liked were Magnolia & Boogie Nights) but everyone kind of raved over this last year so I was eager to see it. I’m now not sure what people saw in this one? I found it boring & the two main characters were annoying. I liked the setting, as I always love the ‘70s, but that’s all this movie had going for it. So this is another PTA miss for me. – 6/10
– Dog – I’m behind on reviewing movies & it probably doesn’t say much for this film that I forgot I’d even watched it when going through my diary to catch up. Channing Tatum is fine as a soldier with PTSD & I always like 1. Dog movies and 2. Road trip movies so this was an interesting combo of both. But Tatum’s character was a bit unlikeable so I cared much more about what would happen to the dog. The movie is fine – just a bit forgettable & very predictable. – 6/10
– Moonfall – I admit I enjoy some of Roland Emmerich‘s films as guilty pleasures so liked the sound of this one & was expecting a dumb but fun disaster flick like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow. Unfortunately this was all dumb & no fun. The characters were boring & the film wasn’t entertaining enough for me to be able to forgive it for being completely ridiculous. Waste of time. – 4.5/10
Movies Rewatched In August
– The Sixth Sense – I think M. Night Shyamalan is a director you either like or hate (I’m a fan) but hopefully most people would agree that The Sixth Sense is a damn good film & easily his best. Rewatched this for the first time in a long time & still think the ending is fantastic & perfectly executed. Glad it got nominations, especially for Haley Joel Osment’s scarily good performance, since The Academy usually ignores horror. But was a little disappointed that my daughter guessed the ending well before the reveal. Guess she’s smarter than I was in 1999! – 8.5/10
Shorts Watched In August
– I Am Groot – These shorts on Disney Plus are pretty silly but who cares? So is Guardians Of The Galaxy & I love it. Who doesn’t like Baby Groot?? He’s adorable. These shorts are cute & very much aimed at a much much younger audience than the Guardians Of The Galaxy films. Have to admit I’ve watched them all two or three times now… Wholesome fun.
– Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation – These Lego shorts aren’t as good as they used to be. This was okay but a bit boring. There are two stories (if I remember correctly!). The second one is much better than the first. I think I just care less & less about the sequel trilogy characters as time goes by.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN AUGUST
Hmm. Actually watched a lot of TV in August. And managed to read two books…
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Boys: S1 E5– Still think this is great so far but struggling to find the time to watch it (while the daughter isn’t around as it’s super inappropriate).
– Only Murders In The Building: S2 E7-10 – Still think these three characters are a lot of fun together & look forward to seeing more of them in Series 3. But Series 1 was quite a bit better than Series 2…
– Ms. Marvel: S1 – This was fine. A great one for teenage Marvel fans. But I seriously have superhero burnout.
– She-Hulk: Attorney At Law: S1 E1-2 – Well, I’ve seen much more of this now but as I’m so behind on posting these reviews, I won’t say much until the September post. I can’t say I specifically remember episodes 1 & 2 now. But I do remember that it was episode 3 with the twerking! I’ll only say this: People are WAY too hard on this show. Stop taking fuckingsuperheroes so goddamn seriously! This show is MEANT to be silly. Hell, I kind of enjoy it. At least it feels different to all the other millions of Marvel films & shows.
– The Twilight Zone (2019): S1 E1 – Finally checked this out as I ADORE the very first & original Twilight Zone. It’s my all-time favorite TV show. This new “Twilight Zone“? It fucking sucked. Episode 1 did, at least. It really doesn’t have me wanting to give any more episodes a chance…
TV Specials, Etc
– Bill Burr: Live At Red Rocks – Trying to watch more standup comedy. Not sure why I never do. So watched this one after watching one of the Ricky Gervais specials. It was fine but I wasn’t exactly laughing out loud much. Preferred the Gervais one we watched. But don’t think either of these men will become absolute favorite comedians of mine, although I do like some of what Gervais has to say about things & life in general. And I liked him hosting the Golden Globes. But for standup give me George Carlin & Bill Bailey!
– The Eyes Of The Dragon by Stephen King – I’m a big Stephen King fan & have read most of his work but just never had an interest in this one for some reason. It may be because I just couldn’t get into The Gunslinger, which is one of his only books I’ve read twice as I wanted to give it another chance to see if it could get me finally reading his Dark Tower series. But I still didn’t like it & I guess I then just thought fantasy wasn’t his thing compared to horror.
I loved this book! It’s very Game-Of-Thrones-Light & I assume aimed at sort of pre & early teens. A very simple but truly enjoyable story about two young prince brothers & an evil magician. Why have I never really heard much about this book? It would make for a fantastic family fantasy film, too. They’ve adapted so many King stories – why not this one?? A thoroughly enjoyable read. – 4.5/5
– We Are All Liars by Carys Jones – This was fine. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:
“Allie, Stacie, Diana, Emily and Gail have been by each other’s sides for as long as they can remember. The Fierce Five. Best friends forever. But growing up has meant growing apart. And little white lies have grown into devastating secrets.
When Gail invites the increasingly estranged friends to reunite at her Scottish cabin, it could be the opportunity to mend old wounds and heal the cracks in their friendship. But when a freak snowstorm rocks the cabin and one of the girls is found dead on the ice, their weekend away becomes a race against time – and each other – to get off the mountain alive.”
It’s pretty typical of the books in this sort of genre. The characters are all quite unlikeable but at least I can say I wasn’t able to guess the ending to this one. I like when these mystery thrillers aren’t predictable. But I just didn’t care at all about what would happen to any of these women. – 3/5
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I’ll try to post my September roundup soon… I fall behind on the blog but do at least keep on top of logging & rating what I’ve watched here on Letterboxd.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
I soooooooo need to see Everything Everywhere All At Once now that it’s on services. 😦 Won’t be making it to the cinema for anything soon as having to avoid Covid still. Missing going to see new releases!
To wrap up, here are Garland & Astaire doing A Couple Of Swells from Easter Parade:
Hello! Things are really shit at the moment. But I’m still watching movies. Because that’s what I do when things are shit!
I’m a bit behind on posting this but here’s what I watched & read in July…
MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):
– Stalag 17 – This was really good. I’m still working on an IMDb Top 250 Project based on the 250 films on the list when I started back in 2013. This is one of many classics from the 2013 list to have now disappeared to be replaced with more current movies and far too many superheroes. Frustrating! Things like this should still be in the list.
I knew nothing about this beforehand but I’d have watched it sooner if I’d known it was a bit like The Great Escape. It has a blend of humor along with the dramatic situation these POWs are in and I really liked the two characters providing comedic relief although the humor didn’t fully work at times. The Great Escape is still the superior film with a much more even tone but there was a lot to like about this one too. The characters are strong & William Holden is great as a prisoner who looks out only for himself. Oh, and I really liked the traumatised flute-playing prisoner who needs to be played by Sean Gunn if they ever remake this (which I hope they don’t).
Good stuff. Glad I chose to start the Top 250 Project when it had a better selection of films. – 8/10
– Hustle – Why do I absolutely hate sports but pretty much always enjoy a feelgood sports movie? The real-life NBA stars were wasted on me as I didn’t know they were real players until the end credits but I still really liked this simple & admittedly predictable story. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve also always liked Sandler & enjoy him in these more serious roles as well as his comedies. He was great as the mentor & his relationship with his recruit, played by Juancho Hernangómez, worked really well. Oh – I also liked Queen Latifah as his wife. Maybe it’s just because I’ve watched so many movies with huge age differences recently (High Noon, Deep Wateretc etc) but I’m sick of the wife being a good 20 years younger so hooray for these two being close in age. Felt like a real couple! – 7.5/10
– Don’t Make Me Go – I really liked this but I can see some people not liking the turn it takes toward the end. John Cho & Mia Isaac were very good as the father & daughter on a final road trip together. I liked their relationship & cared what would happen to them. That’s three John Cho films I’ve really liked in the past few years (this, Searching, and especially Columbus which I highly recommend). Can’t believe the MILF guy is this great father & father figure in movies now. And he’s kind of a DILF now. – 7.5/10
– Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (ドロステのはてで僕ら) – Glad I checked this out (was on Film4 in the UK). Likeable characters & a fun sci-fi story about seeing two minutes into the future. I have no clue about the scientific accuracy of this film & felt a bit lost just like I did when watching Primer, although this movie is definitely more enjoyable than Primer. It also made me look up the Droste effect. So, hey, I learned something. Movies are educational. Also, not that I don’t like long movies but this movie is only 1 hour & 10 minutes. So check it out! You can squeeze it into your lunch hour. – 7.5/10
– But I’m A Cheerleader – Enjoyed this. Not sure why I didn’t see it at the time. Especially liked the use of color & satirical humor. The characters were fun and Natasha Lyonne & Clea DuVall were great together. Would have loved even darker humor but maybe that’s just me as I love stuff like Heathers. But was happy to find this film still had that sort of vibe, which I wasn’t expecting. Good stuff. – 7/10
– The Sea Beast – This was fine. Felt too long & had a very slow start but it did get better once the two main characters were alone with the sea beast. And I liked her little “sea pet” (I’m always a sucker for a cute droid or animal sidekick). One of the better straight-to-Netflix animated films with some lovely animation in a few scenes but still not up there with Pixar or Disney on that. Although, story-wise, I enjoyed this more than Luca & Turning Red so am starting to worry about Pixar. – 6.5/10
– Incantation – I know that not everyone is a fan of found footage horror but I’d recommend this to those who are as I thought it was a good example of the genre. It’s not the most original idea ever & gives Blair Witch vibes at times but it has a solid story with a slightly unique (but obvious) twist, a cute kid, and some effective creepiness. Was actually glad I watched this in the middle of the day as I think I’d have had the heebie-jeebies watching this one late at night. – 6.5/10
– Not Okay – Not okay was just okay. I liked the sound of seeing superficial social media twats getting their comeuppance but having to watch a company full of them for a couple of hours was a bit exhausting. This could have been a smart satire with some great dark humor but it didn’t quite work & I’m not sure what point it was trying to make? Mia Isaac was good as a true survivor of tragedy (and the only likeable character). Liked her in that Don’t Make Me Go movie above, which I far preferred to this. Not Okay wasn’t horrible but could have been a lot better. Current stuff like this just make me miss movies like Heathers. – 6/10
– Persuasion – First of all, I’m not a Jane Austen fan. I’ve never read anything of hers – how terrible am I?! What can I say? I like sci-fi & horror. So I didn’t have that to “ruin” this story as it was new to me. But I don’t really like Dakota Johnson & don’t understand the obsession with her. I’d say if you’re not precious about the original material being messed with & if you’re one of those who loves Johnson for whatever reason, you’d probably find this a perfectly enjoyable romcom. Johnson looking directly at the camera & saying stupid modern shit in this period drama was mildly irritating but I liked the story well enough to not be too bothered by that. A lot of the modern talk thrown in was a bit vomit-inducing but I feel the same way about the stuff they say in plenty of romcoms. And, man, her sisters were hateful. But Richard E. Grant was fun to watch as always & Henry Golding is adorable. Meh. This film is harmless & somewhat enjoyable but mostly just felt a bit pointless. – 6/10
– The Last House On The Left (1972) – I have no clue how to rate or review this. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a big favorite of mine so I’d been meaning to check out Wes Craven’s debut despite hating “rape-exploitation” flicks.
This is pure ‘70’s trash. It’s cruel & the acting is dreadful. It also has weird slapstick comedy bits & smooth easy-listening music playing over scenes of graphic violence, which was bizarre. Well, I’ve seen it now so I guess I can tick it off my watchlist. I’ll give it an extra half a point for (finally) getting onto the revenge I was waiting for & half a point for being so ‘70s it hurts. God I love the look of films from that ugly decade. But I’d never watch this one again. – 5.5/10
– See For Me – This wasn’t the greatest. Watched it as I think it was a 2022 U.K. release & I’m just desperate to log some current releases while missing out on going to the cinema.
I liked the simple concept, which is a home invasion while a blind girl is in the house catsitting. Been done before but in this case she has an app she can use, called See For Me, where you’re connected to someone who helps guide you via the camera on your phone. I really liked that idea & the girl who answered the call was good. But this is one of those films where they make the main character too unlikeable. Why do movies do that? Why would I root for someone I don’t like? Not the fault of the person playing the character, though (legally blind in real life from what I read, so did a very good job) – it’s just how this character was written so they could have done a better job with that. At least try to make me care a little bit about the main character!
Oh well. I do still like the idea & did enjoy the use of the app in the movie. The film was enjoyable enough to pass the time, I guess. – 5.5/10
Movies Rewatched In July:
– Top Gun – Rewatched this just in case we got a chance to see Maverick (that’s not happened). I grew up in the ‘80s so I of course loved this film as a kid. Still enjoyed it just as much on a rewatch & still desperate to see what Maverick is up to now & if he’s still as cocky. And I still miss Goose. And I miss ‘80s action movie music. Go Kenny Loggins! Of course I had this soundtrack. Good ‘ol cassette tapes… – 8/10
– Casablanca – I saw this as a kid & have been meaning to rewatch it for years as I couldn’t remember anything other than the quotable lines that everyone knows. Still great stuff & Ingrid Bergman was lovely. Loved Dooley Wilson as Sam, too. Not sure what all those gorgeous leading ladies saw in Humphrey Bogart in all his movies, though. – 8/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:
– The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years – These are my people! Really enjoyed this documentary set during my early high school heavy metal years. Also always wanted to see this as I believe it’s what got Penelope Spheeris the job directing Wayne’s World, which I absolutely adore.
Must admit that I enjoyed this far more than the first The Decline Of Western Civilization, partly because I of course loved the music but I also thought the interviews were much better & it felt like more of a documentary than the first film. Some of the live performances they focused on weren’t the best but the interviews with the masters such as Alice Cooper & my beloved Ozzy Osbourne, calmly making breakfast & dumping orange juice all over the table, more than made up for the cheesier (and sexist) bands in the film. And at least they ended on Megadeth, which is the type of music I still like more than the glam side of things.
Good nostalgic fun. I want Ozzy to make me a heavy metal breakfast. – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Boys: S1 E3-4 – This is really good so far. Glad we decided to check this one out. A much more realistic take than Marvel on what superheroes would actually be like.
– Only Murders In The Building: S2 E3-6 – Been a fun show to watch as a family. Still think it has great opening titles & music too.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E18-20 – This show is so bloody boring the past few years… But after 18 years I can’t stop watching it now!
– Paul McCartney at Glastonbury – Good stuff! Thought McCartney was great. Especially loved seeing Dave Grohl join him. And the John Lennon duet. Checked out a few other acts but honestly can’t remember who now.
– Stranger Things: S1 E1– Tried to get my daughter into this show. It didn’t happen. Damn. Was hoping to catch up (I didn’t finish season 3) as season 4 actually sounds like it was pretty good? Had good music, at least!
– Elsewhere by Dean Koontz – Love Dean Koontz even though his stories are all so similar. Some are better than others & this is one of those that I think I’ll have no memory of years from now. Likeable father & daughter, as to be expected of all Koontz main characters, but maybe I’m just kind of bored with multiverse stories after recent Marvel films, especially the Doctor Strange one that I thought was pretty rubbish. – 2.5/5
I’ll end this with a song from Don’t Make Me Go. Gotta love Iggy Pop! Here’s The Passenger:
Happy July! Where has this year gone? And will it ever actually be summer in the U.K.? And will I ever stop complaining about shitty U.K. weather after 20 years of living in England? I know by now that we’re lucky to get summer weather for maybe two weeks each year. But when the hell are those two weeks gonna be?!
Here’s what I watched & read in sunless June…(once again all logged & reviewed on my Letterboxd as well)
MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):
– A Star Is Born (1954) – I’d only seen the 2018 film, which was good, but this one was great. Not sure why I hadn’t explored more of Judy Garland’s work until recently as I’ve been such a big fan of The Wizard Of Oz my whole life. She was such a brilliant all-around entertainer and I enjoyed seeing much more of her acting here in between some fun musical numbers. Garland & James Mason worked well together & it’s a shame she didn’t win the Oscar for this performance. Would be interested in seeing the other two versions of this story now too but I know this one will remain my favorite. Very glad I finally checked this out & it’s easily one of the best films I’ve watched this year. – 8.5/10
– Another Round – Very good film with excellent performances, especially from Mads Mikkelsen. Not quite as good as Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt but I thought it did a great job capturing how many of us feel as we get older. I could relate to Mikkelsen’s character & dissatisfaction. Want to say I “enjoyed” this but also found it very depressing as I think I could relate to it a little too much. But that’s the sign of a great film & performance. – 7.5/10
– Beast – This was good. I know Jessie Buckley is popular now but I’ve only seen her in a few roles. She’s fantastic in this so I can understand the hype now. She really makes this whole film worth watching & it’s an interesting character study. Johnny Flynn is also good as the mysterious & potentially dangerous man she falls in love with. He’s a bit weak in comparison to Buckley but together they’re great & have very good chemistry. Glad I checked this one out. – 7.5/10
– St. Vincent – These predictable feelgood dramedies sometimes work, sometimes don’t. If the characters are good I’ll like the film & this one worked for me. Bill Murray is playing his usual grumpy smart ass. I can’t say I always like him being that way but it worked really well with all the other characters in this, especially young Jaeden Martell as the boy next door who he reluctantly agrees to look after (for enough pay) while his struggling single mother (Melissa McCarthy) is at work. Also really liked McCarthy’s character & Naomi Watts as Murray’s sex partner (for enough pay). The movie takes a somewhat unexpected dramatic turn halfway through but it does make you care for Murray’s character. It also does something you’ll see coming from a mile away toward the end but, screw it – it was predictable & feelgood but I liked it. It manages to still not get too sentimental or soppy, which gets on my nerves. I enjoyed the film & liked the characters. Nothing wrong with that. – 7.5/10
– Dual – An odd film but the story is very much my thing & I really liked this idea. People having to fight their clones to the death? That’s cool! But it was hard to care about Gillan’s character(s) with her complete lack of emotion. I guess it was part of the bleak dystopian tone the film was going for, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. It kept this dystopian sci-fi lover happy enough, though, and I appreciated this story & know I’ll rank it highly for 2022 although I do wish the film was a bit better. – 7/10
– The Tale – A difficult film for me to rate as I rate films on my personal enjoyment first & foremost but with some consideration for “worthiness” as well. This is certainly a worthy film & an important story to tell but it’s also extremely uncomfortable to watch & one of those films I know I’ll never watch again. Laura Dern is very good as is Isabelle Nélisse, looking the way a 13-year-old actually looks & making the film even more disturbing. It was interesting how the film was told in flashbacks & I think it was very effective to start with a different young actress, making it even more shocking when Dern’s character realises her first memories aren’t quite accurate. Worthy film & performances but obviously very upsetting content. – 7/10
– Hard Target – I’ve avoided JCVD films my whole life & now I’ve watched four in the past year. JCVD rules! These movies are awesomely bad. Love ‘em. Nothing beats Bloodsport, though, and I’d probably rank Hard Target last of the four I’ve seen. Bloodsport is the best by far, then Timecop, then probably Lionheart just above Hard Target as Lionheart has more, well, heart. I’m a girl – I was a sucker for sexy sensitive JCVD helping his dead brother’s cute kid in Lionheart.
Holy shit – I completely forgot that he bit the rattle off a rattlesnake in this. What a stud!
I hadn’t read the Hard Target plot synopsis beforehand so was delighted when I realised it was just The Most Dangerous Game but with mullets. The movie starts out slow but certainly goes all out on the action & explosions at the end. Gotta love slow-motion running-away-from-explosion scenes! It was ridiculous, over-the-top John Woo fun & I liked Lance Henriksen’s cheesy bad guy. But I prefer the fight scenes in other films with JCVD using only his muscles as weapons. I’d rather watch him kicking baddies in the face & doing the splits. But there’s still some face-kicking in this & I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the mullet & not enough splits action. – 6.5/10
Oh yeah – I guess he did do the splits at least once in Hard Target…
– The Trip – This was good fun. Decided to watch it when I realised it’s from the director of Dead Snow & stars Aksel Hennie from Headhunters as I enjoyed both those movies. Hennie & Noomi Rapace worked well together as a married couple both planning to murder each other while on a trip to a cabin. But things go very wrong when some escaped convicts show up & that’s when shit gets crazy (and surprisingly violent!). If you liked Dead Snow, you’ll probably like this. It’s not as outrageous as that one (Dead Snow is more my type of thing) but this still has some funny moments. I also liked that it was kind of a f**ked up romance. Give me this over unrealistic rom-coms. – 6.5/10
– The Suicide Squad – Not sure how I feel about this film. Certainly far prefer it to the dull & dreary DC stuff. I like James Gunn, just as much for things like Slither as Guardians Of The Galaxy, so I wanted to see what he’d do with yet another set of misfit characters I had very little knowledge of before the film. This one doesn’t work nearly as well as Guardians Of The Galaxy & I didn’t find myself caring about any of the characters in the same way. Of course, they’re bad people so I guess we aren’t meant to like them.
I did enjoy some of the (many) characters, though, and they are luckily the ones focused on the most. The most likeable being Ratcatcher 2, who I thought would be one of the most boring characters but was possibly my favorite by the end. I thought Idris Elba & John Cena were pretty great as Bloodsport & Peacemaker. Also liked the Colonel Rick Flag character and did laugh a few times at King Shark & Polka-Dot Man. Harley Quinn was probably the most disappointing but maybe they just don’t know how to deal with her character? Seems loved in the comics, which I know nothing about, but I’ve not really liked any of the movie versions I’ve seen of Quinn (but I do think Margot Robbie does a good job with what she’s given).
I did also enjoy just how absurd some of these characters & especially the story in the big finale were but the weirdness will definitely not be for everyone. I can see why this is a “love it or hate it” film. Considering I don’t exactly hate Gunn’s Troma work, I could appreciate the crazy humor in this. It’s pretty nuts. This film really isn’t far removed from some Troma movies & it’s cool that Gunn must have been allowed to do whatever he wanted with this. I do wish I liked it a little more & I don’t know if it’s actually a very “good” film. But at least I wasn’t bored, which I can’t say of all the DC or even all the MCU films. – 6.5/10
– In The Heights – Found this underwhelming. Did really like the stories involving Usnavi, Vanessa, Claudia & Sonny but the movie felt very long & had far too many other characters with less interesting storylines. I can’t remember any of the songs but I find that’s the case with most modern musicals. Remember when musicals were full of gorgeous visuals & amazing music? I just feel like I’ll barely remember this one in a few years.
Oh wait! I remember the exact amount of money so I guess I kind of remember that one song. That was the best number & felt closest to what we would get in some of the all-time classic musicals. So I did like that as well as Abuela Claudia’s song. And the characters were likeable, which is important to me. So I don’t mean to sound quite so negative but did still find this underwhelming as a musical. – 7/10
– Freaky – This was fun. Not the most original idea & I think Landon’s Happy Death Day films worked a bit better using an existing idea for a horror comedy. But the two leads seemed to be having fun & there were some inventive & surprisingly bloody kills. – 6.5/10
– Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – Not sure how I feel about this film either. Although I watch all the MCU movies I’m not a huge fan & always welcome the ones that feel a little different. Was excited about the “MCU horror” everyone said this was so was disappointed to find out how mild it was. I still felt like I was watching the same MCU formula again but with an even weaker story than usual. Being a big Romero “Dead” fan I of course enjoyed Zombie Strange and did like some of the weirder bits but there wasn’t enough weirdness to keep me from getting bored. And why would I care about the fate of new and/or slightly different characters when it’s a different universe anyway? There’s no threat there. As always, we know our main heroes will be safe back in this universe. The addition of America Chavez was fine & the stuff with Bruce Campbell was really fun but I didn’t care about anyone else & what they did with Scarlet Witch was annoying after they had us all liking WandaVision so much.
I don’t know. I first ranked this somewhat in the middle on my MCU rankings but I’ve now moved it way down to 26th place out of 28. It may change as I move these movies around a lot as further films come out & characters become more developed. Disappointing, though, as I quite liked the first Doctor Strange film. The more I thought about this one later, the more I thought it was a complete mess. – 6/10
– Emergency – This was a bit all over the place & really dragged in the middle. The older sister, though understandably upset, was far too annoying & the bad decisions made by the main characters were increasingly frustrating. But the two main guys were very likeable & it was a good friendship movie. Got very intense & stressful at the end (which was the entire point of the film). Labelling this as a comedy is very misleading, though. – 6/10
– Spiderhead – Wow. This was terrible. Disappointing as I really liked Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion & Tron: Legacy and liked the sound of the story in this. I see it’s based on a short story & I often find that just doesn’t work when stretched out into a full-length film. I mainly watched this for Chris Hemsworth & the fact it’s a 2022 release but thought Hemsworth didn’t suit this role at all & came across as far too silly (he’s still pretty as hell, though). Miles Teller & Jurnee Smollett were okay but I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters in this.
The tone was also very odd, especially at the end where it seemed to be attempting a comedic montage to Hall & Oates. The songs used in this felt very out of place. But at least they were good songs, I guess. I’ll be nice & give this movie an extra half a point for using The Logical Song by Supertramp as it’s one of my all-time favorites… – 5.5/10
– Possum – This was a better film than Spiderhead but I can’t bring myself to rank this creepy ass film above a pretty Chris Hemsworth movie. Yikes. This was unsettling. One of those movies where you feel unclean after watching it. I put on a lightweight comedy immediately after to cleanse my mind. I give it credit for having the creepiest puppet EVER. Nightmare inducing! Sean Harris did well playing a traumatised man. I’ll never watch this film again but at least it’s memorable. Mostly thanks to that horrifying puppet. I’d post an image of the puppet but I don’t want that damn thing on my blog. – 6/10
Movies Rewatched In June:
– The Craft – Still enjoyed this on a rewatch all these years later, although it hasn’t aged as well as I was expecting. Starts out great but gets a bit too silly at the end. I’d like to change my hair color with magic, though. I hate going to a hairdresser. – 7/10
– Local Hero – Such a lovely, quirky little film. I can see why some people love it & would find it charming. And such gorgeous filming locations – it makes me want to go live near a beach in Scotland. Especially like Burt Lancaster, the guy insulting him, young Peter Capaldi, the accents, sexy Wedge, the mermaid, the red phone box & the beautiful sky. Not a movie for everyone & I think some would find it boring as it’s a very slow film but there’s something very calming about it. – 7/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Etc:
– The Decline Of Western Civilization – Been wanting to see this for years & enjoyed a glimpse of a music genre that I haven’t explored quite as much as others. Expected more of a “documentary” than this is but the live performances captured the punk lifestyle. Next onto my era & the one I’ve most been wanting to see: Part II – The Metal Years… – 7/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE
TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked)
– Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E3-6 – Enjoyed this but didn’t absolutely love it the way I did The Mandalorian. At least it was much better than The Book Of Boba Fett. I think Ewan McGregor is great & was by far the best thing about this show. And I enjoyed all the characters from the original trilogy as well as those from the prequel trilogy although the prequels mean less to me. But I’ve always liked Ewan as Obi-Wan so at least they chose the right prequel character for a show.
There were good & bad bits to this show, though. For the most part, I thought any completely new characters were rubbish. Except that Game Of Thrones chick – her character was fine. Oh! And Leia’s droid of course. I’ll always welcome a new droid!
I know I’m old & stuck in the past but I just care much more about existing characters I’ve known for years. They can of course add new ones but there are too many that just don’t work. Don’t know why. But they managed to make me absolutely fall in love with new character Grogu in The Mandalorian (of course!) & I ended up really liking lots of the other new characters in that too. Why did The Mandalorian get so many things right that other Star Wars stuff, including the sequel trilogy, didn’t? I don’t know. So I guess my Obi-Wan Kenobi review is this: anything having to do with original & prequel trilogy stuff was fine, most of the other stuff was rubbish (with a few exceptions). Meh. Whatever. But Ewan rules.
– Pistol: S1 – Liked this. Have always been fascinated by the Sex Pistols & that lifestyle. No clue how accurate this show was but, hey, that’s what documentaries are for. To be honest, I became just as interested in the story of Christine Hynde while watching this. Have always thought she doesn’t get enough credit. The Pretenders have so many good songs.
– The Boys: S1 E1-2: Finally checking this show out. Intrigued! Really good so far. Definitely going to keep watching…
– Only Murders In The Building: S2 E1-2 – The first series was fun so we’re happy to have a new series to watch. A good family show for us. Still like that theme tune & the opening credits. And the three of them are so good together.
– Community: S6 – We’ve finished. We have no more Community to watch. I’m heartbroken! Gotta say, though, that the last two seasons were definitely disappointing but I’d heard they went downhill. Don’t most shows? Still love the other seasons and we’ve actually started rewatching these episodes again from the start. Never rewatched a show right after finishing it before…
– The Time Traveler’s Wife: S1 – I really liked this book & thought the film adaptation was pretty good so wasn’t too bothered about this TV series but I needed something to watch one day. I wasn’t really a fan. It’s been so long since I read the book now but it felt like they added a bunch of extra stuff that wasn’t in the book? I could be wrong. But I didn’t like the friends or the sister & them all knowing his secret. Were they in the book?! And I didn’t think the two leads were very good or convincing as a couple and they were kind of unlikeable. And, shit, it finished but not as it ended in the book. Is there a freaking second season coming or something?! I can’t be bothered with that. This is why I watch movies. They stretch shit out soooo much for TV & it’s unnecessary. They did a decent job with the movie adaptation of this but the show couldn’t even do the whole story in almost six fucking hours??? Ugh. I recommend the book instead – it’s much better & I thought it was a great, unique story. Or just watch the 2009 film.
– Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: S1 E1-2 – Interested so far but can see just not having time to continue watching this anytime soon. Especially as now I really want to watch The Boys! But I do want to get back to this at some point.
– The Staircase: S1 E1 – I’m not a true crime fan at all but thought I’d check this out as I’m always more interested in a dramatisation than an actual documentary (dumb, I know – I’m sure the docuseries or whatever of this is much better). I already know I won’t watch any more. The show didn’t grab me. I got bored & just looked up the case. The owl theory sounds kind of fascinating, though. But, seriously, I don’t fit in I guess as it’s such a big thing but I just don’t like true crime. I don’t want to know about these horrible real things that happened to real people. I’d rather watch a fictional murder mystery knowing it’s not real. I can’t “enjoy” true crime.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E14-17 – This show never really changes. It’s just so boring the past few years. Wish something would actually happen.
– The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – This was good & very well written but not really my type of thing. I enjoyed the story, though. A good mystery & fascinating characters. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family: fascinating, manipulative Isabelle; brutal, dangerous Charlie; and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But the house hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart… Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past, and its mysterious connection to the enigmatic writer Vida Winter. Vida’s history is mesmering – a tale of ghosts, governesses, and gothic strangeness. But as Margaret succumbs to the power of her storytelling, two parallel stories begin to unfold…”
I think I had it in my mind that it might be a bit creepy and maybe supernatural with talk of ghosts & strange twins. All of that is right up my alley but it wasn’t anything like that. Still, I liked the story & the characters were strong. I think it would make for a good movie – I’d like to see an adaptation of this book. – 3.5/5
Now Reading Elsewhere by Dean Koontz
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Nothing! As usual. Two people read this blog. 🙂 I’ll keep doing these monthly roundup posts, though. I do miss the early days of the blog when there were loads of other bloggers around. Hey, we’ve weeded out the weak. Those of us who are left are hardcore!
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
Fucking EVERYTHING. Feel so out of the loop not being able to go to the cinema to see the best new stuff. People only want to read reviews of brand new movies. Partly why my blog is so dead now, I guess. That and my posts suck. Ha!
Easy choice on which song to end my post with this month. Here’s the awesome The Logical Song by Supertramp from that shitty Spiderhead movie:
Oops. Watched too many movies in May. Several were GREAT, loads were GOOD, a few were MEH, and a couple were AWFUL. Managed to review them all on my Letterboxd, too, so here are those reviews…
MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY (ranked best to worst):
– Lucky – I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like Lucky. This was just fantastic. Harry Dean Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.
I found this film very moving so did a slightly longer blog post about it here. – 8.5/10
– Days Of Heaven – Thought this film looked gorgeous, as to be expected. That farm was beautiful – I wish I could live there (but with modern conveniences, right?!). And I’m always happy about an Ennio Morricone score so enjoyed that as well plus liked the story & thought the performance from the young Linda Manz was very good. Her character was the highlight of the film for me.
This is only the second Terrence Malick film I’ve seen after watching Badlands many years ago. I liked this much more than I was expecting. Maybe I should finally give The Tree Of Life a try… – 8/10
– Safety Last! – This was delightful. Having explored (and absolutely loved) Charlie Chaplin’s work, I’ve now watched two Buster Keaton films then this as my first Harold Lloyd film. Think this is my second favorite after the Chaplin stuff. While Keaton had extremely impressive stunts, I loved the humor in Lloyd’s work here. Found myself smiling in a way very few modern comedies manage to make me do. A scene with a (probably) simple trick of hiding behind two coats was fantastic. And it goes without saying that the ending involving climbing the building & famously hanging from the clock is truly brilliant. One of my favorite films I’ve watched so far this year. – 8/10
– Land – Thought this Robin Wright directorial debut was really good but I guess it was overshadowed by Nomadland (I preferred this). Wright is great as a woman who chooses live alone in the wilderness after a tragic event. She is befriended by a man, played by Demián Bichir, and I really liked their relationship & the connection they had. I felt for these characters & found the film quite moving. Glad I checked it out. – 7.5/10
– Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! – This was even trashier than I was expecting and, wow, I also enjoyed it way more than I was expecting. Am I allowed to like this?? I don’t know the rules anymore. I have very little experience with exploitation flicks so don’t know if this was a good place to start or not? But I thoroughly enjoyed the dreadful acting, silly story, and how completely badass these women were. I can see why this movie has achieved cult status but suppose, as a female viewer, I liked slightly different things about this film than its original target audience?
And now I can’t get White Zombie out of my head… “I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me?” – 7/10
– The Phantom Carriage – Been meaning to watch this one for a while. Really enjoyed the story, even though it’s essentially the same story as a Christmas favorite of mine, and I loved the thought of someone having to take over driving Death’s carriage each year. Was hoping for more of a “horror” & the guy was far too hateful but I loved all the bits involving the carriage. Didn’t love this movie quite as much as the other silent films I’ve explored the past couple of months but it was definitely worth watching. – 7.5/10
– Ghostbusters: Afterlife – This was good fun. The kids were likeable, especially Mckenna Grace’s character & the boy who befriends her & calls himself Podcast. It remains respectful to the original & seeing those characters again was all warm & fuzzy & nostalgic. But it does rely a bit too much on fan service & far too much on reusing the same story, which was a shame. So as a stand-alone film probably hoping to gain new fans instead of just us Gen Xers, I’m not sure it quite achieved that. But being Gen X, I did thoroughly enjoy the big fan service mid-credits scene. – 7/10
– Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers – Never would’ve even thought to watch this until I saw everyone raving over it. It’s a fun film & I really liked the clever story & references. It’s not up there with all-time (fully animated) Disney classics & for me doesn’t have the rewatchability of those. But I enjoyed it & still can’t believe a Chip ‘n Dale movie is one of the better 2022 releases I’ve seen. And better than recent Pixar films, too… – 7/10
– Whistle And I’ll Come To You – Enjoyed this BBC short horror (currently on U.K. Amazon Prime). The great John Hurt plays a man who becomes haunted after leaving his wife in a care home. Some nice creepy moments in this. A good one to watch alone late at night. – 7/10
– Born Free – Oh, looks like I didn’t review this on Letterboxd other than saying “Baby lions!”. Well, yeah… Baby lions! They’re cute! Who doesn’t love cute baby animals?? Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis if you don’t know this film (I’d not heard of it before moving to the U.K.): “Born Free is a 1966 British drama film starring the real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, another real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya.”
Enjoyed, well, the baby lions! Can’t believe this couple raised a lion, which became fully domesticated (making it very difficult when they try to release her back into the wild). Seriously – they lived with it & treated it like a house cat. I kept expecting them to get their faces ripped off. (Spoiler – there’s no face ripping). It’s a very “nice” film with a very easy-listening cheesy mid-60s theme song & I assume many British families saw it on weekend afternoons on TV over the years. The nice vibe was ruined when I Googled the real Joy and George Adamson, though. Damn! It didn’t end well for either of them. What a shame. They certainly led very interesting lives. – 6.5/10
– The Last Letter From Your Lover – Is this movie predictable? Of course. Who cares? I love an illicit love affair now & then. (In movies, of course). And multiple love stories & time periods, too! Yes, please. An enjoyable guilty please, despite really not being a Shailene Woodley fan. – 6.5/10
– Senior Year – This was no worse than any other silly comedy movie but people seem to have a thing against Rebel Wilson (I don’t). I liked this just fine for a one-time watch. Had a few good laughs at inappropriate jokes & always like seeing these “back to high school” movies. And, yeah, comparing current teens with teens 20+ years ago does work really well in comedy now since the difference in behavior & values is so extreme. It’s part of what works so well in Cobra Kai & why I love that show. The story in this is of course predictable & feel-good but does anyone really want a film like this to be anything else? – 6.5/10
– Metal Lords – First of all, I loved this movie’s soundtrack. But I would as I’ve been listening to these songs for over 30 years. It mainly has Black Sabbath (still my favorite), Metallica, Pantera & Judas Priest. Also loved the mentions of Anthrax as they were another high school favorite of mine along with all the rest. And those fantastic cameos made this old late-‘80s big-haired teen very happy. So I enjoyed the movie but the nostalgia obviously helped a lot.
The film could have been better, though, and I wish the one boy (Hunter) wasn’t so hateful. The metalheads in my day were the nice ones? Angry usually, yes, but not jerks to their friends like Hunter is in this. And the movie was a slightly more serious coming-of-age story than I was expecting. Which I guess worked okay but I was expecting more of a comedy. That will be me loving This Is Spinal Tap & Wayne’s World, I suppose. And School Of Rock. The comedy in those just works so brilliantly with the love of rock & metal. But, hey, I always like a good coming-of-age movie too and liked the other boy (Kevin) and his story involving the girl (Emily). Especially when they were appreciating the genius of Sabbath’s War Pigs. But everyone could have used a lot more character development and this could have been a better film if they’d gone even more serious with it & really explored Hunter’s & Emily’s issues. Flagging it just as a comedy is misleading as it’s more comedy/drama.
So I enjoyed this but don’t know if those who aren’t metal fans would or not. Probably not so much but it’s a decent enough teen movie overall so they might still like the story. And plenty of newer metal bands do get mentioned too. Seen some complaining about the lack of newer music. Hunter is just really old school! Nothing wrong with loving the classics. – 6.5/10
– Reminiscence – This wasn’t great but certainly not the worst I’ve seen this year. I thought the idea was really good & liked the story but it’s unfortunate it got too convoluted & messy in the middle. Think it was relying too much on its pretty stars to distract us. Oh well – enjoyed this much more than the recent Deep Water, which only gave us pretty people to look at & nothing else. – 6/10
– Kung Fu Hustle – Well, this was wacky. I wanted to absolutely love this as it very much seemed like my type of thing. Maybe it was just a bit too goofy. But it was still a fun watch & I especially liked the Landlady. – 6/10
– Dear Evan Hansen – This isn’t really my type of thing & I probably wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t for the huge backlash. The backlash was far too extreme for a movie I thought was… Okay? Yeah, he looks 30 but has no one seen Grease?? A musical involving teen suicide is a little weird but I was interested in seeing how the story would end & how he’d get out of his lie (which started small & was less sinister than everyone made it seem when this came out). I can’t say he’s the most likeable character ever but I can think of loads of movie characters & current famous people who are far more hateful. I think the story is attempting an anti-bullying message, making the backlash ironic.
The music is typical of most modern musicals: The lyrics tell the story without giving us any memorable melodies. But the songs weren’t terrible. The overall movie wasn’t terrible, either, although I felt nothing for these “teens”. The adults such as Amy Adams & Julianne Moore were far better than the younger cast. I just think, with such a heavy topic, this came across quite shallow. Which is a shame. I think the movie probably had good intentions but it just didn’t quite work.
For a far better current movie capturing how difficult it is to be a teenager right now, I’d highly recommend Spontaneous (which I reviewed here) over this one. Great characters & smart dark humor, which works much better with heavy teen topics (in my opinion).
So I didn’t love this film but also certainly didn’t hate it. I liked it enough for a one-time watch but know I’ll never watch it again. – 6/10
– Eternals – Watched about half of this a couple months ago but lost interest & didn’t finish. Finally forced myself to finish it. Was bored out of my mind. Other MCU films did such a fantastic job slowly introducing us to new characters so that, even for people like me with zero knowledge beyond the films, we cared about them & their stories. I didn’t care what would happen to this large group of characters I’ve never seen before and the story was far too complex for their introductory movie. I don’t want to have to read Wikipedia afterwards to try to understand what the hell was going on in a Marvel film. No thanks. I’ll admit, though, that the film did get much better in the second half. I upped my rating by half a point as I did like the very end of this and the end credits scenes (except for the dumb troll). But I still didn’t care about any of it. – 5.5/10
– Halloween Kills – I’m more of an Elm Street girl as I found that a much more enjoyable slasher franchise than Halloween but do like the first film thanks mostly to Jamie Lee Curtis & especially John Carpenter’s amazing score.
This was meh. There are certainly better Halloween sequels but also a few worse ones. None of them have come even remotely close to being as iconic as the first film anyway. Curtis was given very little to do in this one compared to the last film, which has gone up in my estimation now after this disappointing sequel. I do like Judy Greer as her daughter & liked seeing characters from the first film appear in this (although I’d have loved seeing Paul Rudd instead of Farmer Ted – I don’t care if it’s a different timeline or whatever!). It all gets too silly, as usual, with Michael Myers unable to ever be killed and nothing surprising or original happens. But I know people just want the same old thing over & over with these films so I guess that’s what they got. Again.
Oh, and although I grew up in the ‘80s on plenty of slashers I’ve never been big on lots of visible gore. I looked away through a lot of this one. It all sounded extra squishy. No thanks. I’ll just stick with the much less squishy 1978 film. – 5.5/10
– Come Play – Yeah, this wasn’t great. Watched it as Gillian Jacobs is hilarious as Britta in Community (prefer her in comedy roles). The idea behind this film was fine but the execution wasn’t great & it comes across as a very poor Babadook rip-off. Was apparently a short film first and, just like Lights Out, I assume the short was much better. Not sure why they think they need to turn good short stories into unnecessarily long films. Oh well – it passed the time. I didn’t hate it. And I’ve given it an extra half a point as I actually kind of liked the ending (though I’m sure plenty didn’t). – 5.5/10
– Candyman (2021) – Admittedly I’m not a fan of the first Candyman (what I can remember of it all these years later, that is – I probably should’ve rewatched it). So maybe it’s unfair of me to review this one but I thought the story, which started out okay, was a muddled mess by the end. Plus the whole thing was surprisingly boring for a horror film.
I very rarely like reboots/remakes/sequels of horror films from the ‘80s & ‘90s, though, as I grew up with those and usually don’t want them messed with now. But I gave this a shot since I wasn’t big on the 1992 film anyway. Too bad it felt like yet another pointless horror “update”. – 5/10
– Brain Dead – I’m a sucker for watching movies just because I remember seeing the cover in video stores. This was one of them. How cool does that cover (above) look?! Looks like a fun, cheesy horror. Maybe even with Cronenberg vibes. It’s not. It’s just bad. So, so bad. Wow. What an incoherent mess. Bill Pullman & Paxton deserved much better! – 3/10
Movies Rewatched In May:
– Mean Girls – No matter how old I get I’ll always like teen flicks. This is one of the better “recent” ones (to me – I know it’s not recent, I’m just old). I like its slightly dark humor & Rachel McAdams is great. But it’s still not up there with Gen X teen movies such as Heathers, although it wants to be. I appreciate its effort. – 7/10
– Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion – Still a lot of fun. Nothing I like more than movies showing outcasts going back to their ‘80s high school reunions! I can relate. Janeane Garofalo’s character is still my favorite & Lisa Kudrow is always funny. – 7/10
– Role Models – Watched this again for the first time in years. Still found it really funny. Don’t think I’ve ever disliked Paul Rudd in anything & he’s as fun to watch in this as he is in everything. He deserves more credit for his comedy. Love the nerdy kid & the boob-obsessed kid & the Kiss obsession & the blatantly obvious explanation of the song Love Gun. – 7/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Etc Watched In May:
– Our Father – Think this could have been a better documentary & it felt exploitative at times. The subject matter obviously makes for uncomfortable viewing but it’s a fascinating & shocking story. Was impressed by the courage of the siblings in seeking justice. This is a truly evil & disgusting man. And unfortunately it’s not at all surprising, especially in the current climate, that there were no laws to protect women in this unusual situation & that this vile man got nothing but a slap on the wrist. – 6/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MAY
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Obi-Wan Kenobi: S1 E1-2 – Can’t say a lot about this yet other than, well, it’s not really grabbing me like I was hoping it would after being super excited it was finally starting. It’s certainly better than the (non-Grogu) episodes of Book Of Boba Fett so far, which ended up very disappointing overall. Except for those Grogu episodes! I think I just need Grogu to be in every Star Wars thing they make now?? Because I love that little dude. Seriously. But I do really like Ewan McGregor too & am still really liking seeing him as Obi-Wan again as he’s easily one of the best things about the prequels. I’m just not feeling the rest of the cast, including the young kid I was very excited to get to see at that age. We’ll see… Need to give it time to build.
– Young Rock: S1 E7-9 What can I say other than that this is a surprisingly fun & feelgood family TV show. Great to stick on when needing something short & lightweight.
– The Five: S1 E1 – After thoroughly enjoying the Harlan Coben mystery series Stay Close & then Safe, we’re giving another one of his shows a try. So far, so good…
– Moon Knight: S1 E6 – I’ve said enough in previous posts. This show just didn’t do it for me. At all.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E10-13 – I’m obviously going to watch this thing until it finally ends. 18 freaking years! And not really my type of thing but it’s too late to give up now! Ha!
TV Specials Watched:
– Ricky Gervais: SuperNature – Honestly not sure why but I very rarely watch any stand-up comedy. Couldn’t even tell you any comedians I like other than George Carlin & Bill Bailey as they’re pretty much the only ones I’ve watched. Oh, and I guess the ’80s Eddie Murphy stuff like Raw. I’m so old. But then everyone freaked out about this one on Twitter as per usual & I went “Fuck it! Let’s see what the fuss is about.”
This was fine. I laughed several times, which is probably not allowed I assume. I like Ricky Gervais for the most part. Not watched any of the TV stuff he’s been in, not even The Office. But do love him ripping annoying celebs to shreds at The Golden Globes. Fantastic stuff! Put those rich fuckers in their places! Even though he’s a rich fucker too. Still prefer the likes of George Carlin & Bill Bailey but hope comedians can continue to be allowed to cover any topics they choose. I get very uncomfortable at the thought of censorship. That’s a slippery slope.
Holy hell – Did I really read three books in one month?! I’m much quicker when I’m not reading A Game Of Thrones, I guess.
– Malorie by Josh Malerman – This is the sequel to Bird Box, which I did like (review here). I mean I liked the book but not the movie – that was pretty rubbish. For some reason, I liked this sequel much more than the first book. While I love the concept & its very A Quiet Place feel (which I also loved) I found the character of Malorie a bit too unlikeable in the first book. But it’s understandable why she comes across so cold having to live life in a world where a glimpse of these “creatures” will drive you insane. I think we got to know her better in this book & why she’s so tough on her kids as she’s just desperate to protect them. I liked their relationship & enjoyed this story and also liked the ending.
Also, I think I felt more connected to the story this time. I read the first book before the pandemic & this one after it and it felt kind of similar to Covid lockdowns in a way. Obviously there weren’t creatures causing us to go on murderous rampages but I could really feel the isolation these kids felt at having been locked away from the rest of the world for so long in order to stay safe. It would be good to see a sequel film but it’s a shame the first film really didn’t do the book justice. – 3.5/5
– Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – Finally read my first Harlan Coben book after really enjoying two TV shows of his. Liked this book, which is just as full of the twists & turns that I liked in his shows. I have to say, though, that like in Bird Box the main character in this was a little hard to like. But she’s tough & strong so that was cool. Not sure if I liked how it ended & as far as the Coben stories go I probably liked the story in the Stay Close show the most. But this would be second & would make for a good movie with the right cast (I think I read at one point that Julia Roberts would star in a movie adaptation but she’d be very wrong for the role). Here’s the Goodreads synopsis: “Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.” – 3.5/5
– The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor – Started reading my first C.J. Tudor books last month & liked them a lot (The Chalk Man & The Burning Girls). Enjoyed this too but not nearly as much as the other two. Those mysteries were even more twisty & turny than the Harlan Coben stuff & that was great. This one, however, was just too similar to a Stephen King story which I won’t name as it’ll give too much away. The characters & overall story weren’t as strong as in those other two books & I didn’t find myself flying through this one as I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on since it seemed obvious unlike the other two books with plots that kept me guessing throughout them. Oh well. It was still a fun read & I definitely have a new author I like. This won’t be the last C.J. Tudor novel I’ll be putting on reserve at the library. – 3/5
Now Reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I might as well get rid of this section. I have no plans. And I’m missing so many movies right now in the cinema. 😦 They’re still too germy & full of people but, dammit, I’m really not doing my duty as a movie blogger. I should be seeing & reviewing new releases for my two readers!
To end with the best music in a movie that I watched in May, here’s Black Sabbath’s War Pigs from Metal Lords:
Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of 90-year-old Lucky as he comes to terms with his own mortality and searches for enlightenment. It was one of Stanton’s final onscreen roles before his death.
This was just fantastic. Being a fan of Harry Dean Stanton, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to watching what I knew was one of his final films before his death.
Stanton rightly deserved the praise he got for this role. He’s absolutely brilliant as Lucky. You can really feel the emotion in this film, as he comes to terms with his own mortality as well as that of his character. And the emotional impact of that final shot is up there with the image on the swings in Ikiru. Utterly devastating yet uplifting at the same time. Only the very best films and/or performances manage that extremely tricky combination without coming across as contrived. Harry Dean Stanton does it perfectly.
This movie reminded me a lot of Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge, which I watched recently and also really enjoyed. Not the story but the way they both showed “local community Americana” and the different types of people who make up those communities & how they interact. I’m always a sucker for small-town-America-with-quirky-characters movies. Growing up in very small-town America, I can totally relate to movies with that sort of setting and have a real love/hate relationship with the town I grew up in. I couldn’t wait to escape it but I also can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else when I die. Morbid. Sorry! Contemplating my own mortality myself lately. However, I grew up in a town in the Midwest & not in a lovely small desert town in California like in this film. Almost made me want to change my dream of retiring in Maine to retiring in a town like this one instead. Such beautiful scenery.
I haven’t done a blog post in a while so wanted to just quickly write something about Lucky as I found it very moving. I clearly love the art of cinema and it’s because of films like this one. I don’t normally care that much about the performances or choice of actors, as long as they aren’t “bad” at acting, but Stanton is fantastic in this. I agree with the film’s poster that it’s the performance of a lifetime. And I think that when you reach the age of 90 that you should be allowed to go around shouting “C*nts!” as much as you want.
R.I.P. Harry Dean Stanton. You’re missed but your performances will live on.
Happy May! I feel bad as I’ve been neglecting the blogs again. I also recently joined Letterboxd (finally) & I’m finding it far too easy to just quickly log & write very short reviews of films there instead of taking the time to put a full post together for each movie I watch. (Here’s my Letterboxd link for the three people who still read this blog).
But I’ve been doing this blog for almost ten years so I need to at least keep up these monthly posts. And I’ll still post reviews here when I’m in the mood or really love a film. I reviewed half of those below on Letterboxd already so I’ll cheat & copy those here.
Here’s all I watched & read in April…
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Finch – Post-apocalyptic? A dog?? A robot sidekick??? Did they make this movie specifically for ME?!?! Three things I love! Especially robots. Yes, my favorite Pixar movie is WALL-E & my favorite Star Wars character is R2-D2 (well, Grogu is up there too now! And Yoda). So, this movie was very much my sort of thing and I really enjoyed it.
Speaking of WALL-E, a lot of this film reminded me of that. Mainly the “radiation storms” (or whatever they were) and the fact that Earth is now a wasteland with very few surviving humans (they didn’t get to jump on a fancy spaceship & just get really fat in this one). Plus, of course, there’s a robot. Well, two robots actually! The one Tom Hanks builds in the film plus a little robot he’s been using which he named after Dewey in Silent Running.
The story is pretty simple but it’s more about the relationship between Tom’s character (Finch) & the robot he builds to help take care of his beloved dog. A robot learning what it means to be human?!?!? Yep – this movie is SO my type of thing. Does Finch bring anything new to this genre? Not really. But it’s got heart & a nice relationship between Hanks & the robot. Really enjoyed this film. – 7.5/10
– Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans – A lovely film directed by F. W. Murnau that won the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture, one of the two top prizes, at the 1st Academy Awards (Wings was later declared the official Best Picture winner). I enjoyed its style & love story & Janet Gaynor’s performance, which won the first Best Actress Academy Award. I’ve logged it as part of my Best Picture Project to watch all the Best Picture winners. 27 left to go! – 7.5/10
– Sherlock Jr. – Decided to explore more Buster Keaton after recently (finally) watching & thoroughly enjoying The General. This one is possibly even more delightful. A really fun story & once again full of crazy, impressive stunts. Especially loved the scenes within the movie theatre where he works. Great stuff. – 7.5/10
– Fatman – While I would’ve enjoyed this slightly more if I’d had the opportunity to see it during Christmas, I still had good fun watching it. Although “fun” may not be the right word.
I hadn’t read much about this so was expecting more of a comedy instead of the action thriller that it is. I’m sure this film’s tone didn’t work for a lot of people (judging by the movie’s unfairly low rating) but I really liked it. I’m old & tired & have lost faith in humanity just like Gibson’s Chris Kringle. I could totally relate to this version of Santa.
Gibson & Marianne Jean-Baptiste also give us performances that are probably way too good for a movie about someone putting a hit out on Santa Claus. I appreciated that they took their roles seriously & I thought they worked really well together. It’s an odd film but very unlike the many other Christmas movies that are out there so it was great seeing something a bit different. I’d happily watch this one again at Christmastime. – 7/10
– Gosford Park – Didn’t realize this was a Robert Altman film until I stuck it on & it soon became obvious with such a huge ensemble cast of every British actor ever. As bad as Harry Potter for that! I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces, especially saucy Helen Mirren (not saucy here), Charles Dance Lannister, Richard E. Grant & Derek In The Night Garden Jacobi. I especially liked Kelly Macdonald as I suppose the lead character (and one of the servants so she was likeable) & as always now sounding like Merida the whole time with her great Scottish accent. Oh, and Ryan Phillippe was in this putting on what I assume was a very bad Scottish accent if you were to ask a Scottish person but I have no idea because I suck with accents. Maggie Smith’s rich old bitch character was fun too. Oh! And Emily Watson’s character was also good. God there were loads of people in this…
Anyway. There’s a murder mystery in this which was fun but this movie was more about getting to know the characters. I’m thinking it was at least an hour into the movie when the murder happens? I was like “Get on with the murder already!”. And I’m REALLY bad with keeping track of loads of characters (Game Of Thrones is a huge struggle for me) so I was constantly looking at Wikipedia while watching this to remind myself who each of these characters were & how they were related to each other. I loved how there were two sets of people, though – the rich assholes & all their staff – so it was great seeing the two worlds & getting two sets of intertwining stories. The staff also referred to each other by the name of the rich asshole that each person “serves” (or whatever) which made it a bit easier to know who worked for who (or is it “whom”? Fuck knows. These rich old English characters would know!). I also liked not knowing who (whom?!) was gonna get murdered, although I guessed correctly. But don’t expect some fast paced murder thriller if you watch this. It’s mostly English people talking posh & being snooty the whole time. Still good fun, though, and good acting (as to be expected from some of the best of the best). – 7.5/10
– The Adam Project – I don’t have a lot to say about this except that it’s a safe & enjoyable family film. Which sounds insulting but it’s great that some decent family films still get made. We used to get so many back in the ’80s & I miss them. It’s a story involving time travel, which I always love. Ryan Reynolds is a pilot who goes back in time & meets up with his younger self (in that above photo). It’s a somewhat forgettable story overall but had some sweet moments with Jennifer Garner as his mother & Mark Ruffalo as his father, which reminded me how much I like 13 Going On 30. – 6.5/10
– The Proposal – Aww – Betty White! Like, I think the rest of the world, I absolutely adored her. She was sweet & so damn funny. So I figured I should finally watch this as I never saw it for some reason. As to be expected from a Sandra Bullock rom-com it’s of course predictable as hell but it was still worth the watch. And I loved that Betty got loads of screen time as she was more often a TV star. She’s great in this. I really enjoyed seeing my favorite person from St. Olaf again. – 6.5/10
– Spider-Man: No Way Home – Wow, this was very underwhelming. Admittedly, I’m not some huge MCU fan. I do enjoy the movies & I’ve watched them all but watching most of them just once is enough for me. This one was just so dull & the story was weak. Plus Peter Parker was an idiot. Why did Doctor Strange go along with his stupid idea?! I realise it was just an excuse to bring the three Spider-Mans (er, Spider-Men??) together and fan service can be fun but this was overkill. It felt so focused on bringing everyone together that it forgot to make a good story & forgot to do anything with the characters other than the three Spider-Men and too many old villains I don’t really give a shit about. I take that back – I did like the stuff with Aunt May. She’s been a great character in these films. But, man, THIS is the movie everyone absolutely freaked out about??? I think people were just so happy to go back to the cinema after Covid that it clouded their judgement.
Oh well, I guess I can update my MCU rankings (which I did on Letterboxd HERE but haven’t yet done on my blog). This is currently number 21 for me. – 6/10
– Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions – First of all, I have to say that this was bizarre in that I was thoroughly confused after seeing someone in the cast list after watching this who I did NOT remember seeing in the movie. So I read the full Wikipedia synopsis and, holy shit, it’s an entirely different ending (and beginning too, I believe). We’re not talking a minor difference, either, as I know there are movies with alternate endings like The Butterfly Effect (prefer the original cinema release of that). This was a whole different ending that completely changes what’s happening through the whole damn movie and has different actresses & characters being used. Like, WTF? So if they make another sequel, which ending are they going to carry on from? And why is this annoying me so much when it’s just a throwaway horror movie so it doesn’t really matter?! Ha! Plus, quite frankly, I like the sound of the other (presumably original cinema release) ending much more. So I hope they go with that one, although I think some will find the ending that I saw with a brand new character more entertaining. I thought the new character sucked. I like the other character!
I liked the first of these movies more than I expected to. No, these aren’t great but I do like “lightweight” horror like this for a bit of fun plus I’m a bit of a wuss. If you liked the first, you’ll like this one since it’s just more of the same damn thing. The escape rooms don’t feel as inventive, though, and too many of them are just too damn big. Doesn’t feel like an escape “room” when it’s the size of a damn town. Then the ending gets pretty dumb, at least in the version I saw, but who cares? Right? It was entertaining enough for an hour and a half. The first was of course much better. I’d watch a third one. – 6/10
– The Sky Is Everywhere – I watched this on Apple TV+ as I read the YA novel ages ago, although it wasn’t a favorite & I found the girl a bit annoying. Seemed to be a faithful adaptation from what I remember. The girl from No Exit plays the dead sister (not a spoiler as this is about a girl grieving the loss of her older, talented sister). The two sisters were fine and the rival love interests were fine and, meh, whatever. The movie was fine. It was fine! #Fine – 6/10
– Mandibles – Bizarre film, which is something I always appreciate. Still prefer Quentin Dupieux’s film Rubber but this one was good fun too. And the giant fly was kind of cute. Oh, it’s about two idiots who find a giant fly & decide to keep it & train it to go fetch things for them. Yep, that’s what it’s about. And a girl who shouts everything she says. That was kind of annoying. – 6/10
– Kimi – An okay Steven Soderbergh film but will be a forgettable one for me. Mainly just made me realise that I need to rewatch Blow Out and that Rear Window is a masterpiece. – 5.5/10
– Shadow In The Cloud – I honestly don’t know how to rate this one. It was kind of terrible but I think I also kind of liked it. I think. Kind of. It may be because I have such a strong love of The Twilight Zone & Amazing Stories which this so blatantly wants to be. I kept expecting Moretz to draw some cartoon wheels while yelling about someone being on the wing of the plane. – 5.5/10
– Antlers – This was very disappointing after I thought it looked pretty good plus I like Keri Russell. And… I don’t know what to say about this? Not sure why I didn’t like it? I didn’t really like the underdeveloped characters, I guess. And I normally like “creature” movies but… Meh. I dunno. I just wasn’t feeling this one. – 5.5/10
– Deep Water – What a couple of assholes. Guess they deserved each other. The daughter was adorable, though. Poor kid. This film didn’t help my Molluscophobia. Or Affleckophobia. – 5.5/10
– Nobody – Wasn’t feeling this one either. At all. I should say I don’t really know Bob Odenkirk as I’ve not watched Breaking Bad or whatever got him some fans but he’s just not leading man material in this. To me, at least. The movie is like John Wick without all the stuff that makes John Wick enjoyable (mostly my beloved Keanu Reeves & puppies). I was bored. But I’ll give it an extra half a point for Christopher Lloyd as he’s always likeable. – 5.5/10
Movies Rewatched In April:
– Rain Man – First time watching this again in a long time. Still a great film. Hoffman was deserving of his Oscar but Cruise was also even better than I remembered. Love their relationship by the end. One of the more enjoyable Best Picture winners. – 8/10
– While You Were Sleeping – One of the better Sandra Bullock rom-coms. Watched this with my daughter on a girly night & she really liked it. I told her there are loads more movies like this that we can watch together. 🙂 – 7.5/10
– Jackass: The Movie – Why do I still laugh at these idiots? These movies of course lose that initial element of shock & surprise (and revulsion) on a rewatch, but I still enjoyed seeing this again way more than I like to admit. Off-Road Tattoo is still a favorite. – 6.5/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:
– Adrienne – Admittedly, I didn’t know of Adrienne Shelly until after her murder. I then saw the film Waitress & absolutely loved it so I’ve tried to see what I can of the films that she starred in. What a loss – would love to have seen what other films she could have made.
This documentary, made by her husband, included loads of home video footage of Adrienne. So it was good to get to know her that way as she was obviously such an indie actress & there will be people who don’t know of her & aren’t aware of her work. In fact, the documentary starts with people waiting in line to watch the Waitress musical based on her movie being asked who Shelly is & they all have no clue. Very sad – Did they not watch the movie (which she starred in as well & wrote & directed) too??? This documentary is also obviously not an easy watch as it does discuss Shelly’s murder as well as her murderer. So that was uncomfortable but I think it’s worth a watch if you’re curious about her & her work. And I highly recommend Waitress. – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Community: S4 & S5 – I already absolutely raved about this show in my previous two monthly roundups so I don’t need to again. I may be very late to the party but am so glad I decided to watch this one day. I’d heard the last two seasons (5 & 6) aren’t so good. Damn! So far, that seems accurate. I’ll avoid saying who but I’ll just say a needed character (or more) leave and this show worked so well the first four seasons as this group of misfits are perfect together. You really need them all as a group & the show sadly goes downhill pretty quickly without all of them. DAMN! Oh well. There are still fun moments. I still have season 6 & then I can rewatch the brilliant first 4 seasons again.
– Ted Lasso: S2 – Finally grabbed one month of Apple TV+, mainly to see this as I really liked season 1. Still think it’s great with fantastic characters. I also like the rather dark turn they’re taking with Ted this season. Getting a bit serious now! But it somehow still works with the lighthearted humor. Only weak episode was the one focusing on Coach Beard, which is a shame as he’s probably a top 5 character in this for me. Also a little heartbroken at how they’ve decided to change Nathan’s character. But will be interesting to see where they go with that storyline.
– Calls: S1 – I enjoyed this as it was so different but it will definitely not be for everyone. This is also on Apple TV+ & the show is a series of calls that we listen to with images such as the one above as well as the words displayed on the screen. Was happy to be able to read along as it made the stories easier to follow. Each episode is a story on its own with different characters, which was cool, but the stories do also end up connected by the end. Some episodes were much stronger than others but I really liked the overall story which was a bit eerie with a touch of horror & sci-fi. But that’s all very much my type of thing…
– Servant: S1 E1-? – I’m too lazy to look up where I finished but think I must have seen most of season 1 before my one month of Apple TV+ was up. I like M. Night Shyamalan so was interested in seeing this despite being put off by there now being 3 seasons. That’s too much of a commitment! Can’t they make more “limited series” shows, dammit?!? One season & done. Boom! Like the Harlan Coben shows. So, yeah, Servant seems to be doing what I hate but totally expected & draaaaaaaaaagginggggggggg the story out. Just get to the fucking point, TV shows! This is why I stick to movies. Anyway – I now want to know WTF is going on so will probably binge this when I can afford to subscribe for another month (maybe when Ted Lasso starts again). I’ll say I thought episode 1 was great. Nothing I love more than creepy babies & creepy dolls! Was then growing bored after several episodes of nothing happening after that, though.
– Young Rock: S1 E3-6 – This show is super enjoyable considering I know nothing about and am not a fan of pro wrestling. But I do like The Rock and think his character is great & love the relationship he has with his family. It’s a really sweet & wholesome family show! And, being the age I am, I do remember some of these wrestlers. I especially like the episodes with Andre The Giant. Good fun! Perfect for when short on time. Can squeeze a couple in during a lunch break! Not one I feel the urge to binge but it’s good to know it’s there as a quick pick-me-up when the hubby & I have half an hour & feel like watching something.
– Moon Knight: S1 E2-5 – I dunno. I just CANNOT get into this show. At all. Sorry? Man… Disappointing after thinking WandaVision was great & really enjoying Loki & Hawkeye despite not being some big Marvel fan. But I did think The Falcon & The Winter Soldier was a snoozefest. I guess I like that, uh, Moon Knight at least feels like something different from the same old formulaic MCU stuff? So… There’s that, I guess! There. I was complimentary.
– Old Enough: S1 E1 – ? (Too lazy to look again, seen 4 or 5 episodes) – Fun Japanese reality TV show on Netflix where they get adorable toddlers & little kids to run some basic “adult errands” such as going to the supermarket to buy food while cameras follow them around to see what they’ll do. It’s lightweight and SHORT, which I really appreciate. Think some episodes are no more than 15 minutes. Woohoo! I have time for that! Okay, it’s a bit dumb but it’s also really cute. Most kids are fantastic while others are totally shit at doing what they’re asked. Funny.
– Grey’s Anatomy: S18 E9 – This has started up again! Yay. I guess.
– It’s The Small Things, Charlie Brown – Should’ve watched more of the Peanuts stuff while I had Apple TV+! Am a massive Peanuts/Snoopy fan. This was sweet & it focused on Sally obsessed with a flower in the middle of Charlie Brown’s baseball game. Watching the rest of these when I subscribe again.
TV Specials Rewatched:
– It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown – Obviously had to watch this again. Watch all the Peanuts holiday specials each year. Is anything better than Snoopy?? 🙂
I read two books in April!! Much quicker reads than the first Game Of Thrones book taking me months to finish. Tried out a new author after reading Emma’s book reviews HERE & thinking they sounded good. Thanks, Emma! Really enjoyed these & already have a third C.J. Tudor book from the library to read next. 🙂
– The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor – Can’t decide which book I liked more but read this first so guess I’ll review it first. First of all I have to say that I could really relate to the mother (my sort of age) and the daughter (a few years older than mine) & their relationship in this. Especially as they love & quote cool movies like Heathers & The Lost Boys. But then, of course, there’s also some great, nasty history involving the small town they move to & two young girls who were tortured & burned alive for not renouncing their faith in Ye Olde English Times. Gotta love English history! Why didn’t they teach us that sort of stuff in American History class?? I might have paid attention. And there’s also a big mystery involving two teen girls who disappeared from this town in (I think) the ’90s. Plus the previous town vicar who died under mysterious circumstances. Woohoo! Oh, and of course the main character’s tragic past that the story slowly pieces together for us.
What I really liked about both these books were all the twists & turns and multiple mysteries to be solved. Reminded me of the Harlan Coben TV shows I watched recently (who C.J. Tudor must also be a fan of as a character in The Chalk Man was reading a Coben book – I really must check out one of his novels too). Not sure why I’ve not read more murder mystery thrillers because I actually love this stuff. I’m just such a sucker for supernatural horror, which is why I stick with Stephen King. But Tudor was compared to King after The Chalk Man & he recommended it to his followers on Twitter (making her go all fangirly. I would too!). I can certainly see the King comparison, especially with The Chalk Man, but she’s more “twisted crime thriller” than “supernatural horror”.
I went off on a tangent there. I really enjoyed this book and its characters. And I only guessed one of the many mysteries quite early on (but one of the biggest ones, so I was proud of myself). Everything else kept me guessing, though. A very fun read. – 4/5
– The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – I’m guessing this is the more popular Tudor book of these two? I could be wrong but I can see it being slightly more widely appealing. I’d say it’s maybe a fraction better of the two but I far preferred the ending of The Burning Girls & that overall story a bit more. What I liked about The Chalk Man & what probably caused part of the King comparison is the slight Stand By Me & It vibe when the story flashes back to the past and the small group of friends, who are now adults, back when they were 12/13. It also has multiple mysteries like The Burning Girls & I really liked everything to do with the “Wurlitzer Girl” part of the story & just wish we could’ve found out more about her.
Great stuff. I liked this one a lot too & haven’t read books this quickly in ages. I just wanted all the answers ASAP. The Taking of Annie Thorne is next on my To Read list. – 4/5
Currently reading Malorie by Josh Malerman
MUSIC LISTENED TO
– Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love – Figured it was worth mentioning this new album as I so rarely have “new music” to post about. However, I’ve only listened to it once while working so have to give it another listen soon. I do love the Chili Peppers so I’ll just say, from what I heard, this album indeed sounded exactly like the Chili Peppers. But I’m not someone to complain about bands always sounding the same because, screw it – if you have fans why change your sound??
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No specific plans. Will continue to log movies on Letterboxd & do a monthly roundup post here.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
Still not going to the cinema even though people seem to have forgotten that Covid exists but, boy, I want to see Everything Everywhere All At Once SO BAD. Will watch Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness at some point too but I’m in no big rush for that. Also like the sound of The Innocents, The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (Ew, Pedro Pascal is in that?) & been waiting for Top Gun: Maverick for bloody ages now.
I like to end with a good song from a movie but I’ll use something from Ted Lasso this time. That show gets the rights to use some great music! Here’s one featured heavily in one episode: She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones:
I watched way too many movies in March. Most were Oscar nominees I wanted to watch before the Oscars. Not that anyone is talking about any of the winners now… It’s a shame that CODA isn’t getting as much attention as it would have if not for someone’s stupid antics.
Well, I somehow managed to already do full reviews of most of those below so I’ll include the links to those & briefly discuss the ones I haven’t talked about at all yet.
MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):
– CODA – Reviewed this just before the Oscars. Really enjoyed it & am happy it won Best Picture. A great feelgood film with likeable characters & a good sense of humor. Also glad Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor & Sian Heder won Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s nice to see a Best Picture that’s actually watchable. Really thought The Power Of The Dog was going to win, which I found a struggle to get through. Watching a movie shouldn’t feel like a damn chore. Far too many Best Picture nominees are like that in recent years so I loved actually really enjoying one for a change. – 8/10
– A Quiet Place Part II – Reviewed this in full already at the link. Was a big fan of the first film & thought it was a very effective monster horror with a fantastic original idea. I’m happy to say that the sequel was also really good. Like these films a lot & can’t wait for Part III. – 7.5/10
– Columbus – Loved this movie! Also already reviewed in full at the link. I should really have ranked it above A Quiet Place II & I think it’s one of the best films I’ve watched this year but I just really enjoyed A Quiet Place II. Here’s the quick Wikipedia synopsis: “The film follows the son of a renowned architecture scholar (John Cho) who gets stranded in Columbus, Indiana and strikes up a friendship with a young architecture enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) who works at the local library“.
Richardson & Cho are very good together and Richardson especially shines as a bright young woman going nowhere in life while stuck in the town of Columbus. It’s a beautiful looking film with great characters & seems like the kind of thing the Oscars would go for so I don’t know why it had no recognition that year & why I’d heard nothing about it. Well, I said a lot more about it in my full review. It’s one I’d recommend but only to certain people as it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. – 8/10
– The General (1926) – Finally got around to watching this Buster Keaton film for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I have very little experience when it comes to old silent films so would feel weird saying too much with so little knowledge. I’ll just say that one of my biggest “discoveries” when starting the Top 250 Project was Charlie Chaplin. I absolutely fell in love with the three films of his that I’ve watched so far & think he was brilliant so was eager to see how Keaton compared.
I enjoyed The General & the dangerous stunts they pulled off for this film in 1926 were bloody amazing. How did he not get killed?! Very impressive. Far more impressive than all of today’s CGI bullshit! Keaton was good & I also found him oddly attractive. Like, when you like the weird, lanky, quirky guy? I always like the weird ones but I think I mainly just have a thing for any guy wearing eyeliner (like in the below photo).
However, this film didn’t connect with me the way the Chaplin films immediately did. It didn’t have the heart that those do plus I prefer Chaplin’s great physical comedy and facial expressions. City Lights especially is one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen & gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling that only the very best cinematic masterpieces can achieve. But The General’s technical achievements (is that the right word for 1926?!) are admittedly extremely impressive for the time so I have to recognize that although the Chaplin films are more my type of thing.
I’d certainly give another Buster Keaton film a try, though. But I first want to check out Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! as that’s also one I’ve not yet seen. Anyone have any other silent classics to recommend? (Yes, I’ve seen & loveMetropolis & The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari). – 8/10
– West Side Story(2021) – Reviewed this already. I’ll just say it’s a gorgeous film, Ariana DeBose & Rita Moreno are great, Ansel Elgort & Rachel Zegler sadly have zero chemistry, and I can’t say we necessarily needed a new adaptation when we already had a very good adaptation in 1961. But I still enjoyed seeing Spielberg’s vision of this & it’s good if it has brought this musical to the attention of a new generation. – 8/10
– Fresh – Liked this quirky dark-comedy horror. And am finally starting to like Sebastian Stan after this and Pam & Tommy. He just seems to be having a lot of fun in these roles. I like him unhinged! Daisy Edgar-Jones was also perfect for this role & the two of them worked really well together. Good fun but a slightly weird film, which I guess is a satire of the horrors women face on the dating scene, that won’t be for everyone. – 7.5/10
– Mass – Mass is a good film but obviously a very heavy topic. It’s about two sets of parents who meet to discuss a tragic school shooting six years after the event. One I’d recommend but you obviously need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it. Although Mass is fiction it’s a very real and sadly far too common occurrence & one I find very upsetting. – 7.5/10
– Malignant – Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. I think it’s grown on me (haha). A bit better & more original than some of James Wan’s work. I appreciated the Giallo influence but it could have used much more of that. I also liked how bonkers it got at the end, raising my score. It could have used much more of that too. – 7/10
– Lionheart – (also released internationally under several names including A.W.O.L: Absent Without Leave, Wrong Bet, and Leon) – Wow, those other names SUCK! What’s wrong with Lionheart?! By far the best name! Anyway. I’m an old lady so of course obsessed with ’80s & early ’90s movies but for some reason completely avoided watching any Jean-Claude Van Damme films because, well, they looked dumb. Plus he had a mullet in a lot of them. But then I watched Bloodsport last year and kind of Bloodyloved it so now I watch his movies when I notice one on a service (Lionheart is on a free one – either Plex or Pluto, can’t remember). Bloodsport is still the best by far, then Timecop, then this one. This was still good fun, though. Van Damme is in a war or something but then some gangsters set his brother on fire back in America so he goes AWOL & comes back to help his brother’s poor widow & cute kid and he somehow ends up fighting people for big money to help them pay the bills. Or some shit. I dunno. Does the plot really matter?! Oh, and he’s also on the run as he’s AWOL!
I decided at some point after watching Bloodsport that Van Damme was kind of a hottie so that may be why I keep watching his movies now. Okay, okay – it’s that amazing BUTT. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go around doing the splits all over the place in this one. What?! Why?!?! What a waste of that amazingly sexy talent. At least he had no mullet in this one. What else can I say? This film is pure 1990 cheese. But it’s fun cheese. And, hell, it has more likeable characters than a lot of movies. I liked it! Okay? I like Van Damme movies now! (But you still won’t catch me starting to watch Steven Seagal films). – 6.5/10
– Old – I do like Shyamalan’s films although they’re admittedly cheesy. But I always like a good story idea & think he comes up with some fun ones plus I’m always a sucker for a twist. I enjoyed Old although, as with most of his stuff, it could have been better. – 6.5/10
– The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – This was fine. As far as The Conjuring Universe films go, this is one of the slightly better ones. At least it’s better than most of the Annabelle movies. I also like it when the Warrens are in the film plus I like a good “devil movie”. Overall, though, the film is a bit forgettable. – 6/10
– Turning Red – Damn. Another very disappointing Pixar film. Remember when Pixar could do no wrong?? The story was okay and the red panda was cute. The girl was fairly likeable too but, ugh, her mother was too over-the-top & annoying. Maybe I’ll give it another chance someday but I’m longing for the Pixar masterpieces we used to get from them. – 6/10
– The Eyes Of Tammy Faye – I had zero interest in watching this one but stuck it on before the Oscars since Jessica Chastain was nominated. Am glad I checked it out. I knew pretty much nothing about Tammy Faye Bakker & her husband. It’s an interesting story of a lifestyle that’s very bizarre to me. Bakker comes across quite well in the movie as a woman who cared about everyone from all walks of life, thereby demonstrating some true “Christian” values much more so than the sexist & racist men in power at the time. I think it was a worthy Oscar win for Chastain. – 6.5/10
– The Forever Purge – Meh. The Purge films are a guilty pleasure of mine. I LOVE the concept. But they have yet to make a truly good film from that idea, which is disappointing as there’s so much they could explore. These last two films have been the worst of the series but they were still okay. I’ve been a bit generous with my score & should probably drop it half a point but I’ll leave it as is for now. – 6.5/10
– Nightmare Alley – My god, I can’t believe how utterly boring this Guillermo del Toro film was. It’s not a bad film and it looks great & I liked the setting of the carnival (although that’s only at the start – I wanted that to be the whole film). Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara are very good but Bradley Cooper is dull and the film drags on for far too long. Disappointing. – 6.5/10
– No Exit – Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus. Here’s the short Wikipedia synopsis: “It stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.” At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects when the main character discovers the girl in the van & doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though. Meh. The movie was okay, I guess. It passed the time. – 6/10
– The Stand-In – First of all, I have to say that I love Drew Barrymore. She’s my same sort of age so I grew up with her. She seems so likeable & down-to-Earth (but who knows with celebs, right?! most seem like assholes). So I’ll always watch a movie with Drew. Damn – this one isn’t great, though. I still enjoyed it as it’s Drew but it’s possibly the worst of all her films that I’ve seen. I’d say it’s through no fault of her own, though. She’s fine in this dual role. She plays an actress as well as her lookalike stand-in who later becomes a part of the actress’s (is that right with the letter S together three times?!) life when that actress wants to hide away from society after her bad behavior ruins her career. The actress character was fine but the stand-in was annoying. Disappointing but, again, I’ll watch anything with Drew so didn’t feel like it was time wasted. – 5.5/10
– Spencer – Holy hell I hated this godawful movie. But I had a rant about it in my full review so I don’t need to moan again here. I’ll just say thank god Stewart didn’t win Best Actress. Everything about this film was dreadful. – 4.5/10
Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:
I binged a lot of the Oscar nominated shorts (and one full-length documentary) before the Oscars. I lucked out on seeing all of the ones that ended up winning. Not that they matter since the stupid Academy decided they weren’t important enough to award live during the ceremony. Twats! What a disaster that whole thing was. Well, here’s all I watched…
– Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) – Winner of Best Documentary – I really enjoyed this Questlove documentary about this absolutely amazing 1969 music festival that I knew nothing about. The music was fantastic & it was great seeing so much live footage from the concert. Check out some of the performers that we see (from Wikipedia): Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mavis Staples, Blinky Williams, Sly and the Family Stone and The Chambers Brothers. What a line-up! A deserving win for Questlove. Too bad it was completely overshadowed by Will Smith being a total dickhead immediately before this award. In fact, the feed in the U.K. cut out for a while after that plus the shorter replay of the Oscars didn’t show this win (why?!) so I had to find this acceptance speech online to even see it. Ridiculous. Smith really ruined that night for everyone & took all the focus away from people who worked so hard. Ass. Anyway, we’ve all heard enough about that goddamn story! Am glad this won the Oscar & I highly recommend it to music lovers.
– The Queen of Basketball – Winner of Best Short Documentary – Here’s the IMDb synopsis for this one: “Queen of Basketball is an electrifying portrait of Lucy Harris, who scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history and was the first and only woman officially drafted into the N.B.A.” A fascinating story & Lucy came across as such a lovely person. Was sad to see she just passed away in January when I looked this up just now. Think I saw this on YouTube or Vimeo (as well as most of these shorts) if you want to check it out.
– The Long Goodbye – Winner of Live Action Short – Not a fan of this Riz Ahmed film. Watch it on YouTube if you want to see yet more hate.
– The Windshield Wiper – Winner of Animated Short – This animated short had lovely animation. However, the story was nothing that intriguing & dragged on for too long (for a short!). Can’t say I’ll remember anything about it in a year. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Inside a cafe while smoking a whole pack of cigarettes, a man poses an ambitious question: “What is Love?”. A collection of vignettes and situations will lead the man to the desired conclusion.”
– Audible – A good short documentary on Netflix following the students of The Maryland School for the Deaf. Thought it might win the Oscar.
– Lead Me Home – Another short doc on Netflix, this one following the lives of several homeless people in West Coast America.
– Please Hold – I liked this live-action short the most. Very Black Mirror inspired story about a not-too-distant prison system. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to check it out.
– Boxballet – A Russian animated short film about a ballerina & a boxer who grow close despite being so different. Not too bad.
– Robin Robin – This stop-motion short produced by Aardman Animations is also on Netflix but, not gonna lie, I played on my phone through the whole thing so it clearly didn’t grab my attention. I’ll try to watch it again sometime.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Community: S2 & S3 – I f*%king LOVE this show! How on Earth did I miss out on this when it was on?! I mean, I was very busy with a baby when it started in 2009 but I’m still very late to this one. So glad I just stuck it on at random one day with the family. We’re all addicted.
Last month I ranked my favorite characters (so far). My ranking probably hasn’t changed. I now currently have three favorite episodes as well. My favorite was Remedial Chaos Theory, which the above image is from. Don’t you love when you finally find out what a popular meme is from?! I’d seen that above meme sooo many times. Thanks to that episode my daughter & I now go around saying “Me so hungie! Me so hungie!” & doing the Britta dance. Because I’m a mature adult. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a very close & brilliant second. Then Digital Estate Planning, in which I was like “That’s me!” when Pierce’s video game character was stuck behind the potted plant not knowing how to use the controller. And Troy jumping around constantly was SO my daughter.
The hubby & I were saying that’s part of why we’re so taken with this show. I think everyone who watches it would probably see parts of themselves in at least one of these misfit characters. I’m mostly a combination of Abed, Britta & Shirley with a dash of Troy (especially as Troy thought all dogs were boys & all cats were girls like I did as a kid. Ha!). I think these characters are just fantastic & work so well together. I’m already heartbroken knowing we’re right now also almost finished with Season 4, which was short, and only have two more (also short) seasons to go. What am I going to do when finished?!? Daughter said she wants to just rewatch it all again from the start. Not loved a sitcom like this for years. 🙂
– Safe: – We quite enjoyed Harlan Coben’s murder mystery limited series Stay Close on Netflix so decided to check this one of his out as well. Also really enjoyed this one but preferred Stay Close. And now my daughter seems obsessed with murder mystery thrillers so am sure we’ll be watching plenty more shows like this! And I’d happily check out Coben’s books now based on these two shows. I like how many twists & turns his stories take. Any recommendations of similar shows or his best books?
– Pam & Tommy: S1 E7-8 – I said plenty about this last month so I’ll just say again that I thought Sebastian Stan & especially Lily James were really good in this. Not sure the point of the show or if it needed to be made but it was interesting to see this, mainly from Pamela’s side, as she was treated horribly over the whole thing. Lightweight entertainment but, yeah, it was entertaining.
– Moon Knight: S1 E1 – Only one episode so far so I don’t have much to say about it other than it didn’t grab me for whatever reason. And Oscar Isaac’s accent sounded weird as hell to me. But I’ll still continue. Maybe it’ll get better. Can’t be worse than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier!
– Severance: S1 E1 – Loved the sound of this & still think it’s a great story idea but the first episode really dragged. Will give one more episode a chance to see if it picks up a bit…
– Inventing Anna: S1 E1 – Found the first episode boring plus the girl’s accent or whatever the hell that was annoyed the hell out of me. But I liked seeing My Girl girl all grown up! Does the show get better?? Not sure if I’m bothered…
– Punky Brewster (2021): S1 E1 – Hey, I’m an ’80s kid so I loved Punky Brewster. Very weird seeing her grown up in a new show. A bit cheesy & SO American but I’ll totally continue with it at some point.
– Fleabag: S1 E1 & half of E2 – I fell asleep during episode 2. I think this one just isn’t for me. The character was funny a few times but also too much of the sort of asshole I can’t stand or relate to in any way whatsoever. No thanks.
– A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book One – A Game Of Thrones by George R.R.Martin – I FINISHED IT!!!!! Crap, do I have to review it now?! I don’t have the energy! This literally took me months to finish. Not that it’s bad or something – I’m just kind of a slow reader plus it’s long. I enjoyed it, though. I really like that it’s a book where each chapter focuses on a specific character. Was always happy to get to a chapter focusing on one of my favorites (Number 1 favorite is still easily Tyrion, followed by Daenerys & Arya). Oh! One thing I’ll say is that Jon Snow is much better in the book. I always wondered why everyone liked him in the show as I found him a bit dull. Oh! Also… they upped the ages of the “younger” generation for the show. In the first book they’re: Bran 7, Arya 9, Sansa 11. Robb Stark & Jon Snow are both 14. Daenerys is 13. And that prick Joffrey is 12 (still hate his guts).
I’d like to say I got to know the characters even more now but, surprisingly, the show was really quite faithful to this first book! Is it later that they start changing stuff more? Because as much as I HATE when adaptations aren’t faithful to a book, it also meant I didn’t exactly get any surprises while reading this after watching the show. Damn. Well, I still enjoyed this & will continue with the series. I need a break first, though. Going to read some more lightweight stuff I got from the library instead for now. – 4/5
Currently reading The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I went movie & review crazy last month so will probably take it easier this month. Although I keep wanting to do a week of posts counting down my Top 100 bands & singers. Should I do that? Sounds like too much effort. But would be kind of fun. I miss making lists…
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
I honestly don’t know anymore what’s in cinemas but services have a terrible selection at the moment. Have Apple TV for a month so gonna try to watch Finch & binge Ted Lasso. Also want to watch Freaky, Another Round, In The Heights & The Suicide Squad on another service I have temporarily.
I end these posts with a music clip but can’t find the great Summer Of Soul full performances to share (so go watch the doc!). So here’s a song I’ve always liked from Fresh: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll:
The Oscars are on tonight so I’m finally doing a post with links to the reviews I’ve done of some of the nominated films.
I can’t believe I used to stay up all night long to watch the Oscars live when I first moved to the U.K. Ugh. I don’t anymore because 1) I don’t always have access to the live ceremony because that service is too expensive and 2) I’m too old & tired to stay up all night (and then go to work! how did I do that?!) but most importantly 3) Screw the Oscars! They’ve become a joke in the past several years & this year’s ceremony sounds ridiculous. I had a rant during my Mass review but I’ll just say again that I don’t have time for a movie awards ceremony that doesn’t see the Best Original Score & all the others not being presented as important enough to make the live show.
But I’m sure I’ll still watch the shorter recap show tomorrow night & bitch about the ceremony the whole time…
Well, there seem to be better Best Picture nominees than some years but I’ve only seen six of the ten. Of those I’ve not seen, I really do want to see Drive My Car. I’m sure I’ll check out King Richard, Licorice Pizza & Belfast when available too but I’m in no rush. I think The Power Of The Dog will probably win anyway, which was my least favorite of those I’ve seen. I loved Dune & CODA. Actually not sure which of the two I preferred. Dune is more “me” but CODA was so lovely & thoroughly enjoyable to watch. They’re maybe tied.
Here are my reviews of those I’ve seen of all the nominees (from my favorite to least favorite):
There were also some strong documentaries & shorts that were luckily available on U.K. services. Summer Of Soul was great with fantastic music so I really enjoyed that. And Please Hold was a good Black-Mirror-Inspired story.
Nominated Documentaries & Shorts I’ve Seen (not ranked):
Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
The Long Goodbye Three Songs For Benazir
The Windshield Wiper
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
Best Original Screenplay:
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
“Don’t Look Up” Adam McKay, David Sirota
“King Richard,” Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Worst Person in the World,” Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Best Original Song:
“Be Alive” (“King Richard”), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson
“Dos Oruguitas” (“Encanto”), Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Down to Joy” (“Belfast”), Van Morrison
“No Time to Die” (“No Time to Die”), Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days”), Diane Warren
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Emilia Jones as the eponymous CODA (child of deaf adults), the only hearing member of a deaf family, who struggles to balance her attempts to help her family’s struggling fishing business and her own life aspirations.
Finally! After a week of watching a bunch of the films with Oscar nominations and getting really annoyed at how boring (Nightmare Alley), irritating & unwatchable (Spencer) most of them are, it was great to see something I thoroughly enjoyed. Why do the Oscars nominate so many films that feel like an absolute chore to watch? I’m surprised this was nominated for Best Picture, actually, as the Academy doesn’t often go for a sweet “feelgood” family film. They like dreary & depressing stuff so often but crowd-pleasing can be worthy too. I’m glad they recognised this one. Not sure of its chances but it would be lovely to see it win.
The performances were all great in this as well. Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant & Marlee Matlin all would have been worthy nominees so it’s a shame it’s not up for more acting awards but I’m glad Kotsur was nominated at least. It’s also up for Best Adapted Screenplay so, again, not sure of its chances of winning Best Picture with only three nominations overall but I think Kotsur has a good chance. I really liked these characters & their strong family bond. Yes, it’s a heartwarming film but it’s not overly sentimental or saccharine. They got the balance right on that, which can be hard to achieve, and the film has some great funny moments too. Kotsur & Matlin were especially fun as horny parents still madly in love with each other. I’ve not seen Emilia Jones & Daniel Durant in anything else but this will hopefully get them more roles as they were both brilliant too. All four of them worked really well together & were believable as a family.
Oh, and I loved the setting too. I swear I want to be able to retire to a small East Coast America fishing village (this is set in Massachusetts). I blame Stephen King for that! I’ve just read too many of his stories set in Maine. And….. I can’t think of anything else to say! When I hate a movie, I can ramble on forever moaning about it. CODA is such a good & enjoyable film and there is absolutely nothing negative I could possibly say about it. It’s also not trying too hard to be something its not, which again is why I’m surprised it’s up for Best Picture. It’s a lovely film and I’m happy I got to watch it. (Thanks to my family gifting me that streaming service for Mother’s Day. They know exactly what kind of gifts I like!). Oh, and they both really enjoyed this movie too. It’s a great family film.
Here are two quick reviews in time for the shitty looking Oscars ceremony I really don’t want to watch but probably will. Figured I should check out two of the Best Actress contenders that just showed up on U.K. services. Bloody hell one of these movies was godawful.
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021)
Directed by Michael Showalter
Based on The Eyes of Tammy Faye by Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film tells the story of Tammy Faye Bakker (played by Jessica Chastain), from her humble beginnings growing up in International Falls, Minnesota through the rise and fall of her televangelism career and marriage to Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield).
I did NOT expect to far prefer this movie out of these two. I had zero interest in even watching this but stuck it on to see an acting Oscar nominee since I’ve only been able to watch half of the Best Picture nominees (I’ve not seen Belfast, CODA, Drive My Car, King Richard or Licorice Pizza). I’ll say that I knew nothing whatsoever about Tammy Faye Bakker other than, of course, remembering the religious lady with the crazy makeup at the height of her & her husband’s fame (or more like infamy, I guess).
I won’t get into religion as I avoid talking about religion or politics like the plague. I’ll just say it’s a topic I do have a very strong opinion about & I never understood the televangelist thing in America when I lived there. It must make other countries think we’re crazy for supporting what seem like cults but are these ministries as big of a deal as they seem? They must be as they managed to find people to give them millions, making them so damn rich. But who are these people? I never knew anyone who would give money to televangelists?
Anyway. I’m NOT going to get into that. I’ll just say again that I knew nothing about Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker as that kind of thing is utterly & completely foreign to me but this movie made me feel sympathy for her at least. It’s a Hollywood film & I’m not stupid – they can so easily make a person either look good or bad depending on their agenda so I’m not going to just assume it’s 100% accurate. I’m also not interested enough to go looking into its accuracy (sorry). But whether it’s true or not I really liked how genuine she seemed here in her love of God (despite my own beliefs) and embracing the true supposed meaning of Christianity (love & acceptance of everyone no matter their race, gender, sex, sexuality, etc). Yes, despite hiding behind a mask of makeup she seemed more genuine in her beliefs than all the powerful & intolerant men in this film who also became rich in the same way. Again, I’m sure it was exaggerated or more likely entirely fake but I loved the scene where she was just being her sweet self talking about her beliefs while the men her husband idolised clearly wanted this “woman with opinions” to shut the hell up.
Well, as I said I liked this movie and character more than I was expecting. It was probably easier for me to buy into as Bakker isn’t nearly as well-known as someone huge like Princess Diana but Jessica Chastain did seem to do a very good portrayal. There’s plenty to discuss here when it comes to the hypocrisy of rich & powerful “Christians” and there’s probably something psychological with Tammy Faye feeling the need to cover her face in all that makeup. I don’t think the movie really explores any of that at all, though, which is a shame. But it wasn’t a bad film & was a small entertaining look into something I know very little about. At least Tammy Faye, for all her & especially her husband’s obvious faults, embraced what I was always led to believe was the core Christian belief of love & acceptance (?!). In that way, she came across as quite lovely (in this Hollywood film, at least. I dunno). She was a fascinating person. While I don’t think the movie did much in terms of trying to help us to understand her as a person, at least it made us sympathize with her & accept her in the way she seemed to accept others.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Music by Jonny Greenwood
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Sally Hawkins
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film is about Princess Diana’s existential crisis at Christmas because she wants to divorce Prince Charles and leave the British royal family.
What? What on Earth? Who? Why? Huh? Did… Did people actually like this movie? Am I just completely out of touch with film fans these days?! I honestly don’t know where I fit in now. “Regular” people I know in real life who aren’t movie-obsessed like me probably think I have weird & slightly snobby movie tastes (I do) and would hate a lot of the movies I’ve loved in recent years. But then I see Film Twitter & critics praise stuff like this, which I found annoying & pretentious and a chore to finish watching. And it had the most obnoxious & irritating score which just put me on edge the whole time. Which I hate saying as the score was done by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead & they’re easily one of my Top Ten favorite bands ever but, hey, I guess it makes sense as plenty of their stuff from later years was fucking irritating. (But I still love them for having SO many songs I adore)
Is Kristen Stewart’s performance Oscar-worthy? For the most part, I don’t care that much about performances (unless they’re really bad). I care more about Best Picture & the overall film being one that I actually enjoy. So it was hard to judge the performance as I was distracted by hating this movie so much but it seemed awful to me? So over-the-top. It felt like a ridiculous caricature but what do I know about anything?! I think the performance was meant to be an exaggerated version of Princess Diana so maybe Stewart was amazing? Was it?? Was it meant to be hammy??? And I’m just dumb & uncultured???? And I moaned about this in my Being The Ricardos review but, if you’re gonna hire someone who looks nothing like a very well-known real person, at least make sure that actor/actress is DAMN good. So, yay, I just spent two hours watching Kristen Stewart being blonde, glancing sideways a lot, throwing up & talking about masturbating. It just felt insulting to the memory of Princess Diana.
I’m looking down & sideways! I’m Diana!
Screw it. I don’t feel like rambling on forever about hating a movie (for a change). This film, about one of the most interesting & beloved figures in recent history, somehow managed to be an absolute snoozefest. That’s quite a feat, I guess. I’m sorry if anyone reading this liked this film but I’d be very interested to know why as I’m starting to wonder why I like so few films in recent years, especially Oscar nominated ones…
Based on Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A grifter working his way up from low-ranking carnival worker to lauded psychic medium matches wits with a psychiatrist bent on exposing him.
Ugh. Okay, this is going to be a sucky review because I have very little to say about this movie. Well, all my reviews are sucky. So this will be more sucky than usual!
Man, this film was a drag. Guillermo del Toro’s output is kind of all over the place, though. I like some films, like Pan’s Labyrinth (brilliant) and The Shape Of Water. But other films of his are a bit meh. As always, though, I like the style of his movies & this one also has his great signature look to it. So, yay, it looked very pretty. But that didn’t make the movie any less boring. Nightmare Alley ended up like Crimson Peak: A great-looking but dull film. And I think I enjoyed Crimson Peak much more of these two.
How did he manage to make a movie set in an old-school carnival so boring?!? I think we just didn’t get enough of the carnival setting. Disappointingly, that’s only really at the start of the film. I LOVE a carnival/circus setting for movies & books! Freaks is very much a favorite film of mine & I’ve always found that whole lifestyle fascinating. So, when they moved away from that in this film, I really lost interest with the plot which wasn’t very compelling & certainly didn’t need to be dragged out for two & a half hours. Also, not to be rude but I’ve just never really been a fan of Bradley Cooper & he felt wrong for this role. I did think he was very good in A Star Is Born but he just felt out of place here, especially in scenes with Cate Blanchett. I think Blanchett has that true old Hollywood “star quality” so she does tend to outshine everyone in scenes with her but it was even more obvious with Cooper as he just doesn’t have that sort of “presence” at all. Which isn’t good when he’s the main character…
Also, I don’t mind this so much but the hubby complained about the amount of big name stars in this. I do agree it can throw you out of some movies, though, especially fantasies or ones that are meant to be mysterious. It just felt unnecessary to stick so many well known people in even the smaller roles here. Is that what helped it to get a Best Picture nomination? Probably! The Academy does have its favorites. Blanchett is certainly a favorite & they do seem to like del Toro. Hey – at least Nightmare Alley was maybe a little less boring than The Power Of The Dog. Maybe. It’s close.
I had more to say about this than I expected! I feel I’ve been way too harsh because, let’s face it, I’ve never made a movie & del Toro is obviously a good filmmaker. So I’ll end with some positives:
As already mentioned, this movie looks great. I also liked all the performances from the women: Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette (was sad her role was so small) & Rooney Mara. Hubby thinks I have a big girl crush on Rooney Mara. I think I kind of do but don’t know why as I don’t normally go for that tiny waif thing. She has lovely eyes but I think I’m more into Blanchett because she’s always so “sexy cool”. Yes, I liked seeing the two of them in this together briefly after they played lovers in Carol. Yes, I liked Carol and, yes, it kind of made me wonder what I see in men. And I think I just spent too long thinking about Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara so the hubby is gonna read this and think I’m in love with them. Oh, and I also learned something new about old carnivals! I can’t believe I’d never heard of a geek show since I always watch anything to do with carnivals. Anyway, here’s a brief explanation of a geek show from Wikipedia: “The billed performer’s act consisted of a single geek, who stood in center ring to chase live chickens. It ended with the performer biting the chickens’ heads off and swallowing them.” Gross. It sounds like the geeks were treated horribly so it’s a good thing the “geek shows” & the “freak shows” disappeared. It was such a different world back then. (But I did like the thing in the jar in Nightmare Alley as it reminded me of a great episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called The Jar. Loved that show as a kid!)
Here, I’ll be fairly nice with my rating as it obviously must be a good film since it’s an Oscar nominee?!?
Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang, Brett Dier
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows a young woman who starts dating a charming man, only to discover his horrifying true nature.
I’m always surprised to see these 18/R rated films popping up on Disney Plus in the U.K. Well, I was happy to see this one available as there’s been a lot of hype about it on Film Twitter plus it sounded weird & I like weird.
It’s kind of weird but certainly not the most bizarre film I’ve seen. I think they’ve made it pretty obvious what the film is about but I’ll still try to stay spoiler-free. So the overall plot wasn’t a surprise but I think they did something fairly original with the idea & I liked the acting in this & how the story was presented. Also, girls have been ooohing & aaahing over Sebastian Stan for years & I wasn’t really seeing the appeal. I think I’m starting to like him now after this & after Pam & Tommy. Don’t know what that says about me?! I should point out that I didn’t like Tommy Lee as a person in that show or ever in real life. While watching it I was thinking “I actually didn’t realize this guy was such a dick!” so that’s not me going for the bad boys or something – I just think Stan came across as having a lot of fun in these two roles. I also saw some interviews with him & he seems really likeable so it’s a nice plus when celebs aren’t horrible people.
I also really liked Daisy Edgar-Jones in this. I had to look her up as I’ve not seen her in anything before. Looks like she’s mostly been in English TV. So I guess she must not actually sound American as she was raised in England with Scottish & Irish parents?! I have to say that I never notice actors putting on American accents so it must be really easy to sound American or something? But I’m rubbish with accents. Wait, she DID sound American in this, right?! Ha. I dunno. But she was good in this role & I think she has this vulnerable sort of look that worked really well for this character. You can see how she’d so easily fall for the handsome & charming Sebastian Stan character after some very bad dates with men she meets through dating services.
I didn’t love this film but I did enjoy it and I can see why the younger generation seem to be the ones going for it. It follows a twentysomething who just wants to find a nice guy but is meeting nothing but jerks through dating apps. The movie starts off showing us one of her disastrous dates with an irritating, cheap & inconsiderate asshole. She tells her friend (another good character, played by Jojo T. Gibbs) that she’s had enough of this shit (well, I don’t think she said that exact thing) but then she meets lovely Sebastian Stan in a supermarket. In real life! And she comments that she didn’t think real life meetings happened anymore & I have to say that I feel no sympathy for 20/30 somethings most of the time but do think it must be awful mainly living life online & having to date in that way. Okay – I also feel kind of sorry for them having to grow up with shitty music.
Well, this movie is hard to discuss while staying spoiler-free so I’ll just say that things get pretty crazy after our attractive main characters meet. I liked how this movie started out feeling like a sweet rom-com before turning into a dark comedy horror. I also see this was written & directed by women (I’m guessing, going by the names so correct me if I’m wrong) and I liked seeing this story from a female perspective. For example, her first disastrous date felt really relatable in that I think all women watching would agree that the guy was a total dick while some men watching might wonder what was wrong with the guy. The whole movie, I suppose, is a social commentary on dating and the relationship between men & women. Yes, I guess that’s pretty obvious but I didn’t feel it was forcing an agenda or anything like that. That would annoy me. Sometimes you just gotta enjoy a cleverly written, f*^ked up horror comedy & not overanalyze things.
My Rating: 7/10
*I could maybe be talked into giving this a 7.5. Will wait until I see more 2022 films to see how this compares.*
Here’s a two for one! And to think I was going to spend this week reviewing Oscar nominees. Screw that – I have no time for movie award shows that have no time to spend on presenting awards to everyone involved in the filmmaking process. So here are two movies definitely not nominated for any Oscars…
The Forever Purge (2021)
Directed by Everardo Gout
Starring: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Will Patton
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a group of people who attempt to escape from the United States after an insurrectionist movement continues committing crimes and murders nationwide after the Purge’s ending.
I don’t really know what’s better of The First Purge & The Forever Purge. I just know that I barely remember The First Purge and that was quite recent so that’s pretty bad. And I think I’ll also barely remember this newest one in a few years. But I still enjoyed them & 6/10 seems a little harsh. Maybe I’ll change my mind & up them half a point (okay, I’ve just upped the rating on this one) . But the first three are far better (and had the same director, so luckily it looks like he’ll be back to directing the sixth film).
For reasons I can’t fully explain, I really like this series of movies. I always love a good concept & I think these movies have a fantastic idea that they’ve never managed to explore in-depth. You’d think we’d get something more meaningful after five films? But I think they’ve managed to evolve the story pretty well & I’m not bored with this idea and know I’ll watch film number six. In this one, a large group of people have decided that the Purge should never end & break the rules by continuing their murder spree after it finishes.
This actress was in The Hunger Games. I know that because my daughter has watched it 2 million times.
I again liked the idea for this movie just fine. If you make all crime legal for one night every year, you’re obviously going to end up with a situation like this so I think it’s a logical progression of the story. I still think they’ve left plenty of situations unexplored, though, so I’m interested to see where they go with the next film. Where they’ve focused plenty on the rich vs the poor so far and the obvious advantages that the rich would have in this situation (as they have with everything in life), this one takes on immigration. I think it worked okay but prefer when they’re a little more subtle with the social commentary. But these films have never been subtle in any way so that’s fine. I think the issue was mostly that this one really dragged in the middle & I lost interest through all of that after it had an okay start.
Well, I like these movies and I’ll keep watching them although I think they have yet to make a truly good film based on this great idea. Maybe they just take things too seriously? This time, it made me think back to The Hunt & how great I thought that was at poking fun at how fucked-up America has become. But maybe that’s just me as I’ve always loved dark humor. It’s a serious issue so maybe these films do need to stick to what they’ve been doing. Maybe they need to take it more seriously? I don’t know but I want to feel like they’ve finally done this idea justice in one of these films. Maybe film number six will be the one?!
Oh, and I’ve not watched The Purge TV series & I don’t know why since I like these movies. I think it’s because a TV series is too much of a commitment for me. Anyone watched that?
My Rating: 6.5/10
No Exit (2022)
Directed by Damien Power
Based on No Exit by Taylor Adams
Starring: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Dale Dickey, Mila Harris, Dennis Haysbert
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Havana Rose Liu as a recovering drug addict who discovers a kidnapping in progress while stranded at a rest stop during a blizzard.
Watched this as it’s a 2022 movie release on Disney Plus & I’m still desperate to see any 2022 films that I can via services. It’s interesting that Disney is getting some new horror/thriller releases (in the U.K.). Last year, I thought The Empty Man was pretty good & The Night House was very much my type of supernatural horror (although it could have been a bit better). No Exit is the most disappointing of the new straight-to-Disney thrillers so far but, hey, it passed the time.
**Edit to add that I’ve just watched Fresh on Disney Plus & that was pretty entertaining. The best of those I’ve mentioned.**
This film pretty much all takes place at a rest stop where these people are stranded during a blizzard & the main character (above) discovers a girl locked in a van. At the rest stop, there are four other adults who become the suspects as she doesn’t know whose van it is. So there was a bit of suspense there at first, which was fine. This is one of those movies where all the characters aren’t very likeable, though, including the main girl and even the young girl who has been kidnapped! You should like the victims at least! It also got a bit too violent for me at the end. Nothing massively gross – I think I just wasn’t in the right mood. Meh. The movie was okay. I’ll forget it in a year. Oh! And Dale Dickey was in this & I always think “the prostitute from My Name Is Earl!” whenever I see her so it’s hard to take her seriously in dramas, etc.
My Rating: 6/10 *This rating is a bit generous. I guess I’m feeling nice. I was too nice to The Forever Purge too.*