Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2019

Yes!!!! January is OVER! Okay – it’s been over for a while – I’m just behind on my monthly update as usual. I f*^king hate January. And I spent it watching loads of shit! WTF? So much for my resolution to watch fewer movies this year and to try to watch more “quality” films. Pfft. Oh well. Let’s see what utter shit I wasted my time on during dark, dreary January 2019…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Aquaman – 7/10
Mary Poppins Returns – 6.5/10
A Dog’s Way Home – 6.5/10
Glass – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Paprika – This is one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so I’ll review it in full soon. It was okay but I didn’t love it. – 7/10

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – This was okay but it didn’t exactly change my life. I’m starting to wonder if I’m too damn picky (or bitchy) since a lot of people loved this film/game thingy. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been big on video games and this felt more like a game than a proper film to me. As far as the story goes, it’s weaker than a regular Black Mirror episode. The characters were fine but I didn’t care enough to bother trying out various different choices. Who has time to watch something multiple times?! I just read about the other options online afterwards instead. Apparently the ending I got is the hardest one to get to. Hmm. Sounds like the best one anyway. – 6.5/10

Every Day – I kind of liked this. If I was honest, I’d put it above Bandersnatch but I’m always a little embarrassed by the fact that I still read & watch YA stuff. Guilty pleasure! I read the book last year (review HERE) because I loved the concept. Here’s the book synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” This is one of those rare occasions where I think the movie is slightly better than the book. It’s very faithful to the book so it might be down to its star (the girl – played by Angourie Rice) being quite likable. I remember thinking she was great alongside Ryan Gosling & Russell Crowe in The Nice Guys, considering they’re big stars & she was unknown. Anyway, this is a simple & sweet teen romance with an interesting story. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this one. 6.5/10

A Dog’s Way Home – 6.5/10

Glass – 6.5/10

Murder On The Orient Express – Had to check this out since I read the book in 2017 when I heard they’d be adapting it again (and that Daisy Ridley & Michelle Pfeiffer would be in it). It’s the first & only Agatha Christie book I’ve read (and one of the only crime/mystery thrillers I’ve read – I stick to horror and sci-fi). It’s a great story and I enjoyed the book but this adaptation was weak. The casting felt very wrong, although I like most of the actors in it. Johnny Depp was the worst. I loved him back in the Edward Scissorhands days. I want that Johnny Depp back! The movie also gets off to a very slow & boring start. It does pick up once they’re on the train (and the murder happens) but, if you’ve read the book and already know the conclusion, it’s not that exciting watching the mystery unfold. They managed to make a murder mystery very dull in this. There are some references to other Christie novels (I think), which fans will probably appreciate but which went over my head. If you love the book and the actors, you still might want to check this film out one rainy afternoon. But I’d definitely recommend the novel over this adaptation if you’re interested in the story. – 6.5/10

2:22 – This sounded so good from the plot synopsis on IMDb: A man’s life is derailed when an ominous pattern of events repeats itself in exactly the same manner every day, ending at precisely 2:22 p.m. Sci-fi weirdness! Totally my type of thing! But it has a really low IMDb rating and bad reviews. This wasn’t great but the reviews are way too harsh. The story was intriguing and a bit romantic if you’re into that. The execution of the story is far from perfect but the people calling it boring clearly haven’t seen that pretentious snoozefest Comet (a somewhat similar genre film involving two lovers). If you like full-on mind-bendy sci-fi weirdness, I highly recommend Coherence or Circle or Predestination over this. If you’re in the mood for more of a romance with a simple story that happens to have a small twist of sci-fi, you may like this one okay. I think I just have some weird thing for Theresa Palmer because I always seem to watch her movies even though she’s rarely in very good ones… – 6/10

Roma – Okay… I’m one of those people who found this film boring. Very boring. Guess I just have no class. I’m sorry but I’m always 100% honest when it comes to my opinion on things and I never pretend to like something that I didn’t enjoy. I actually found it a chore to make it through this one and don’t know how I managed to stay awake. I was exhausted. I deserve a medal! It’s a beautiful looking film, I get that. Alfonso Cuarón is a great filmmaker and I think Gravity and Children Of Men are fantastic. But this? I don’t get it. I hated the family. The main girl was good (the family’s maid, played by Yalitza Aparicio, who is up for an Oscar). Not sure it’s an “Oscar worthy” performance but she’s the only sympathetic character in this. I still didn’t connect with her, though. That may be due to her lack of emotion throughout all that happens but you do feel for her character and want a better life for her. Roma isn’t a bad film, obviously. I just can’t see it sitting alongside Best Picture Oscar winners from the past, which are some epic, all-time classics. But I’d say the same for a lot of Oscar nominees from the past decade or so. The Academy is completely out of touch. I’d love to hear from people who genuinely enjoyed this, though. Honestly – I do want to understand what all the fuss is about. But I know that not one real-life person I know (I know no obsessive movie nerds like me) would like Roma, let alone be able to sit through the whole thing. – 6/10

Dreamscape – This is another 2019 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it at some point. Worst Blind Spot film I’ve ever chosen… – 6/10

Unsane – This is that Steven Soderbergh movie he filmed on an iPhone. The gimmick doesn’t really work if the movie is boring, though. I wasn’t distracted by the iPhone thing but the story and characters were very weak for a Soderbergh film. He’s not a favorite of mine but this film is certainly no Out Of Sight or Ocean’s Eleven. Sex, Lies, And Videotape had far more interesting characters & dialogue and, for a film of his with a somewhat similar theme, I’d definitely recommend Side Effects over this. This is the first thing I’ve seen Claire Foy in and everyone raves about her but I can’t see why based on this film. That’s probably the fault of the film, though. I didn’t care about her character and whether or not she was crazy. But, hey – Juno Temple rips her tampon out in this & chucks it at Claire Foy so I guess it at least deserves an honorable mention on My Top Ten Period Dramas list… – 6/10

Green Lantern – Why did I watch this?? I’m sick of superhero movies and this one is known to be bad. To be fair, it’s very silly but certainly not the worst superhero movie I’ve seen. I’ll be honest – I enjoyed it more than Man Of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. As I always say, I prefer superhero movies to be fun instead of dark & dreary like those two. So. Meh. This was silly but Reynolds was fun. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10

Pitch Perfect 3 – I won’t waste time saying much about this. It’s bad. Hollywood needs to stop milking the shit out of every idea. The first Pitch Perfect was fine. It was a fun concept and I got some laughs out of it (mainly thanks to the weird girl who whispers crazy shit and makes puke angels). There were very few funny moments in this one and a pathetic story. Time to move on! – 5.5/10

Ghost Stories – Wow. This was boring. I normally enjoy horror anthologies and this sounded good on IMDb: “Skeptical professor Phillip Goodman embarks on a trip to the terrifying after finding a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions.” The overall story was pretty good, in a Twilight Zone type of way, but the individual stories were bog standard ghost/demon stories and the ways they were presented weren’t at all scary (I’m never a fan of seeing too much, especially when the effects & make-up look cheesy). And the “twist” ending, which was okay, didn’t make up for the previous almost hour and a half of cheesy, boring hauntings. Modern horror is so often a huge disappointment for me. – 5/10

Bird Box – Ugh. I read the book by Josh Malerman (review HERE) and enjoyed it. Really good story only let down slightly by unlikable characters. I like Bullock but she was so wrong for this role. Not that it matters, I suppose, but the character in the book is half her age. Then the film changed the story so much until the very end. I don’t understand why films make changes when completely unnecessary and when it actually makes the story worse. This does pick up a little toward the end when the focus is on Bullock and the kids (and when it also isn’t straying so far from the book). Dreadful acting in this film, as well. Just read the book. – 5/10

Winchester – Bloody hell. Modern horror really does suck. What an utter snoozefest this was. Again, it sounded so good on IMDb: “Ensconced in her sprawling California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.” How did they manage to make an intriguing story so damn boring? And what a waste of Helen Mirren (I like that saucy lady) and Sarah Snook (absolutely brilliant in the fantastic Predestination). To be fair, I was paying zero attention by the end since I was playing on my phone out of sheer boredom. Maybe I missed something that made this good? Unlikely since it’s up for a bunch of Razzie Awards, I guess. – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

I got these two short Stephen King novels for Christmas so of course read them immediately. I read everything King writes and I almost prefer his shorter stories to his full novels so I was excited about reading these. They’re fine but not his best.

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – I liked the setup for this one. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson takes the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

One day, while Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground and the chink of an aluminium bat hitting a baseball, a stranger calls out to her.

On a bench in the shade sits a man in a small, neat black hat. He offers Gwendy a mahogany box with coloured buttons. The buttons will produce gifts, such as chocolate which can make you slimmer. But he warns her that the gifts will be small recompense for the responsibility.”

I liked the character of Gwendy and am a sucker for a 70s or 80s time period plus I like a story that spans many years so I enjoyed reading about Gwendy as she grew up throughout this short novel. However, not a lot happens. There’s also very little horror, which was fine by me as I’m just as happy with King’s less horrific books but I can certainly see not all King fans loving this one. I loved the concept and had fun with the story and like that the title sounds slightly dirty. – 3/5

Elevation by Stephen King I think this one really won’t be loved by all King fans. Like Gwendy’s Button Box, it’s not exactly a “horror”. Again, though, I really liked the concept. A guy starts losing weight very quickly, although his outward appearance never changes and his scales register the same weight even if he’s holding something heavy. I couldn’t wait to see where King was going with this odd story. Strangely, this felt more like a story his son (Joe Hill) would write. Hill does weird concepts more often than full-on horror. I love the style of both King & Hill. I maybe liked this one slightly more than Gwendy’s Button Box, actually – but I think that was a better novel overall. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

None. Am thinking of starting on that South Korean zombie thing Kingdom on Netflix. Looks like something I’d like. Anyone seen it?

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ll again try to review whatever I watch in the cinema. I’ll also try to review one of my Blind Spot choices (probably Paprika).

February Movie Releases:

Burning – Not a February release but, dammit, I want to see this. It was showing in limited cinemas recently. I need to live in London!

Destroyer – Looks okay but I’ll wait for Netflix.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Was hoping to see this for its Oscar-nominated performances but don’t think there are enough showings.

Escape Room – Cheesy teen horror. Can definitely wait for Netflix.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Going to miss this now as there are too many other films I want to see. Will probably send the hubby & kid to this while I go to Green Book.

If Beale Street Could Talk – Looks really good. Will try to check it out if I have time.

Alita: Battle Angel – Seen this already. Really enjoyed it! Will try to review it soon.

Boy Erased – Again, I’ll probably wait for Netflix. I can only take so many dreary dramas at once so I’ll focus on the ones up for Oscars first.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Saw this as well so will also review it soon. Was disappointing compared to the first film, which I thought was great.

Happy Death Day 2 U – Will check this out if reviews are good. I was a little underwhelmed by the first one, although it was a fun story.

Instant Family – Netflix film! Like most silly comedies.

The Kid Who Would Be King – I seriously want to see this because 1. I really liked Joe Cornish’s last film Attack The Block and 2. Patrick Stewart!!!!

On The Basis Of Sex – Another “wait for Netflix” film but I do really like Felicity Jones.

Cold Pursuit – Well, I kind of wanted to see this for its sheer ridiculousness but didn’t know it’s based on a Norwegian film, In Order Of Disappearance, which is currently on Amazon Prime. Now I want to watch THAT instead!

Oh yeah! I always try to end these roundups with music from one of the films I watched. I forgot the very best thing about Bandersnatch: Tangerine Dream! YES!!! 🙂

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A Dog’s Way Home (2019) Review

A Dog’s Way Home (2019)

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

Based on A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

Starring: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos, Bryce Dallas Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A female dog travels four hundred miles in search of her owner throughout a Colorado wilderness.

My Opinion:

I can’t decide if this was pukey or lovely. Okay – all family films involving cute pets are pukey. But it’s kind of hard to not like them and feel all smooshy inside when you watch them. A cute puppy is a cute puppy! Who doesn’t love a cute puppy?! This film is sweet but it could’ve been better. It’s from the same guy who wrote A Dog’s Purpose, which overall was a much better film with a far more original idea. I’m not gonna lie – I really liked A Dog’s Purpose. My cold, black soul is capable of at least liking cute animals. A Dog’s Way Home is still fun, though, and certainly worth a family movie night at home on your couch.

Oh my god – I have nothing else whatsoever to say about this movie. I’m off to a great start with this blogging thing in 2019! I think I’m just bored. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen anything really good or, at the very least, interesting. I need to see something that can jumpstart my love of film again. Something epic like Arrival. Or something weird as shit like Mandy.

Okay – A Dog’s Way Home is sweet and you’ll enjoy it if you like dogs and have a young kid and like nice, innocent, pure, inoffensive, safe entertainment. Some slightly dodgy CGI ruins it a little and the story isn’t as strong as in A Dog’s Purpose (we’ve seen an animal’s “long journey home” SO many times in movies!). But it was an enjoyable if somewhat forgettable afternoon at the cinema. It was better than Glass, at least. I guess.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Glass (2019) Review

Glass (2019)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In the film, David Dunn gets locked in a mental hospital alongside his once-rival Mr. Glass, as well as the multi-personality “The Horde,” and must escape from a psychiatrist who is out to prove the trio do not actually possess super-human abilities.

My Opinion:

Well, this was disappointing. But I did expect it to be disappointing. Maybe I should stop watching movies I expect to be disappointing… I’d save a lot of money!

I like M. Night Shyamalan for the most part. I’ve watched almost all of his movies because I do enjoy his stories and, yes, I like a twist even though he’s known for them so it’s never exactly a big surprise. I can’t say I’ve truly loved any of his films but do think The Sixth Sense is pretty great, especially if you saw it at the time and he wasn’t yet known as “that guy who does twists” (I saw it when it came out and no one yet knew the ending). The Village is also pretty good, although a lot seem to hate it. The rest, however, are unfortunately the very definition of “meh”. But I still weirdly enjoy his movies while watching them. I just never feel the need to ever watch them again…

Okay, I’ve ranked all his movies I’ve seen from my least favorite to my favorite (only the bottom two truly suck):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Glass
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I guess I have Glass pretty high. To be fair, I didn’t hate it (my hubby did). I can see why it has such mixed reviews, though. For me, it was what I expected so I didn’t hate it. I’ve leaned to go into Shyamalan’s films with very low expectations! I think he should be given some credit for creating a whole new comic book/superpowers trilogy that feels unique & original compared to all the damn superhero movies that I’m getting very sick of. It’s just unfortunate that this trilogy doesn’t go out with the bang I was hoping. It’s more of a whimper. Shyamalan likes to go over the top so often – I wish he’d given this a crazy as fuck ending that we’d all remember in the same way we all remember the ending of The Sixth Sense.

Unbreakable is still the best in the trilogy by far but I did like this one more than Split. I loved seeing Bruce Willis and especially Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson again and I far preferred seeing these three together than when it was just James McAvoy being a lone psycho killer (I’ve never been big on murder-y crime movies). Speaking of McAvoy, he’s great in both these films. He’s better than Willis & Jackson, who are kind of just phoning it in for this one (but they’re huge stars – that happens sometimes). I still love Jackson – he’s one of those actors who’ll make me watch a movie just because he’s in it.

Well, that’s it. I need to keep these “reviews” short anyway if I’m going to keep up on reviewing cinema releases this year. I just don’t have much to say about this one other than that it’s a shame that a good idea feels like a bit of a waste after how Glass ends. It feels a bit “So what?”. Good idea, actors I like, and a really good performance from McAvoy made it worth watching, at least. I continue to think Shyamalan has good story ideas and I respect that as it’s more than most of us will ever accomplish. But I wish the end products could be as good as his ideas – only The Sixth Sense has managed to accomplish this.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2018

Happy New Year, everyone! 2019. Holy shit. Well, I suppose I better post my December Roundup so I can finally get on with posting my 2018 Year End Top Ten Lists. I love lists!!!! I’ll be posting those the rest of this week. So first of all, here’s what I watched & read in December 2018.

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Splendor In The Grass – 8.5/10
Metropolis – 8.5/10
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – 8/10
A Star Is Born (2018) – 8/10
A Simple Favor – 7.5/10
Aquaman – 7/10
Mirai – 7/10
Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) – 7/10
The King’s Speech – 7/10
Ralph Breaks The Internet – 7/10
Bumblebee – 7/10
The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – 6.5/10
Mary Poppins Returns – 6.5/10
American Animals – 6/10
Slaughterhouse Rulez – 5.5/10
The Grinch – 4.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

*l’m going to sound grumpy in my reviews below since I’ve already reviewed the stuff I actually liked. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was especially fantastic. Believe the hype! All my reviews are linked.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – 8/10

Aquaman – 7/10

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) – 7/10

Bumblebee – 7/10

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society – This was my “Christmas present wrapping movie” this year. It wasn’t as much fun as watching Road House while wrapping presents – I’ll be going back to watching that one while wrapping next year. This was still a decent movie, though, and it continues to annoy me that Lily James is so damn cute. Here’s the plot synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in 1946, the plot follows a London-based writer who begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was under German occupation during World War II.I enjoyed the story and the characters were well developed and the romance worked well even though I don’t normally go for that sort of thing. It probably deserves a higher rating but it was still a bit too “chick flick” for my tastes. – 6.5/10

Mary Poppins Returns – 6.5/10

Mute – Hmm. Okay – I’ve been meaning to watch this as I really liked Moon from Duncan Jones (plus he’s cool on Twitter and of course he’s David Bowie’s son and that’s awesome). But then it got pretty bad reviews so I waited. I can see why it got bad reviews. It’s certainly no Moon! The characters are really hateful (the main guy & his girlfriend were okay, I guess. And the young girl). The story was pretty silly and felt a bit pointless after how it ended. It felt like one of those movies where the director had a vision of the backdrop he wanted for the film then wrote a story around it, which didn’t really work. I did like some of the imagery and always love futuristic sci-fi so I didn’t totally hate the film. But I didn’t like it all that much, either. It’s a poor Blade Runner imitation. Overall, it was a big disappointment but I like that Jones got to make the film exactly as he’d wanted. – 6/10

Thoroughbreds – This movie was pretty disappointing as well. I was looking forward to it after hearing comparisons to things like Heathers. I do like a good teen angst movie! Okay – people need to stop calling every angsty teen movie the next Heathers. Nothing will ever live up to Heathers or any of the other 80’s teen movies. Heathers was witty with some of the most quotable dialogue ever and fantastic characters. Thoroughbreds was mostly just boring, which I didn’t expect since the story revolves around the girls planning to kill someone. I do like both these actresses fine and it was good seeing Anton Yelchin again (R.I.P.) so, like with Mute, I didn’t totally hate this. It just felt a bit pointless and a little “up its own arse”. Just because a plot is a little dark, it doesn’t automatically make something a brilliant film. – 6/10

Justice League – I finally watched this since I figured I better see it before watching Aquaman (which I really enjoyed!). Meh. I really can’t get into the DCEU movies, although I did like Wonder Woman & Aquaman. The Batman & Superman movies have been atrocious, though, and I can’t stand Ben Affleck. Like most superhero movies, this felt exactly the same as all the rest. Hell, I barely remember the stupid plot now and I only just watched this last week. These stories are getting boring as hell. However, Wonder Woman has a big role in this film and she’s easily the best thing about it. She saved the movie (somewhat). It’s far better than the Batman & Superman films, at least! But the MCU movies are still so much better overall. At least this one didn’t totally suck. – 6/10

The Christmas Chronicles – Well, this was silly as hell but it’s the sort of thing you’d expect from a family Christmas movie anyway. And who (my age) doesn’t love Kurt Russell?? He’s still awesome, even when old and with hair like 70’s Kenny Rogers. I was a bit like “I kind of want to f*^k this Santa”. Is that inappropriate? I mean, he was in The Thing! The Thing rules. We need a Kurt Russell Santa movie directed by John Carpenter. It wouldn’t have had those dumbass elf(?) rat-looking things. As for this movie, it was fine other than those weirdass elf things. Well, I’m also not so sure about Russell singing the blues in prison (the hubby & I both pointed out a few times that they seemed to be influenced by Adventures In Babysitting for this movie). The movie would’ve been better with less cheese as the story itself, although a thoroughly predictable “dead parent” story, was suitably heartwarming for Christmas. The two kids were quite likeable as well. Can we just have a little less cheese in our Christmas movies?? It’s A Wonderful Life is heartwarming with very little cheese. And no stupid elf rats. – 5.5/10

Amber Lake This was one of those movies with a decent story idea but so poorly executed thanks to a bad script and terrible acting. The clearly very low budget didn’t help either. It really was a wasted opportunity. Oh, and it also uses the Rashômon concept of telling the same story from different perspectives. But that of course worked in the hands of Akira Kurosawa as he was a genius and one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Amber Lake is no Rashômon! Obviously. Um… I don’t actually know what to say about this. Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “Three half-sisters, after being invited to their father’s lake house to meet him and each other for the first time, are each questioned by a local sheriff to explain the events that took place leading up to the discovery of their father floating dead in the lake.” It’s on Amazon Prime in the UK if you’re interested but do yourself a favor & watch Rashômon instead. Or any Kurosawa film. You won’t regret it. I kind of regret watching Amber Lake, though. – 5/10

Cam – I really need to stop trusting tweets from Twitter’s “horror community”. I’ve realized that they rave about every horror movie no matter how good or bad it really is. Cam is yet another Netflix film that everyone thinks is great, probably because they get to watch it at home as part of their subscription, which is a lot easier than dragging your butt off the couch to go the cinema to watch something that’s actually good. Netflix is the new equivalent of “straight to video” in the Eighties. Anyway, after all my bitching I can see why this would have some fans (especially horny guys). And, yes – it’s an original story so I definitely give it credit for that in this day & age of sequels and reboots. It’s a good concept but having a thoroughly annoying character as its focus didn’t really work. I don’t want to hate all the characters in a movie – it just means that I don’t care what happens to them. To be fair, this movie did have a good idea and I think I’d have liked it okay if they’d gone about it differently. Plus the porn thing didn’t work for me, I suppose, since I’m a girl. Hey – whatever happened to Babestation in the UK? Is that still around?? I haven’t been channel surfing at 3am in recent years… – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – I like Nick Hornby & have read most of his books. The film adaptation of this came out a few months ago so I figured I better read the book before checking out the movie (Ethan Hawke is in it so I’ll be watching it at some point). The book was okay and very “Hornby” but definitely not one of his best. I like that there’s once again a music connection, as there often is with his stories. In this one, a guy is obsessed with an old rock star who had one big hit album then disappeared. His long suffering girlfriend (or were they married? I don’t remember!) ends up being contacted by the rock star after she posts a review online of his new album. Hey – I review stuff online! I’ve reviewed several Chris Hemsworth movies. Where’s my e-mail from him? Hey Chris – I’m totally up for a hot love affair! Anyway. Where was I? Oh, this book was fine but a little boring. The characters were weak compared to those in other Hornby novels but I sadly related to the pathetic guy in this & his obsession since I get kind of obsessed with stuff like that too. I mean, I obviously have a movie blog. The guy posted on a blog dedicated to the rock star. We’re obsessive nerds. Hornby does seem to write the “obsessive nerd” characters well. The book was a decent enough read but I didn’t love the ending. However, I do think it would make for a good movie so I’ll be watching that as soon as it’s available on whatever service. – 3/5

Currently Reading: Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Nothing. Well, Grey’s Anatomy. Ugh. And The Walking Dead. Ugh Ugh. Eagerly awaiting Game Of Thrones and Stranger Things!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to take it easy this month. I actually watched too many movies last year and plan to cut down on that as well. Fewer movies but hopefully better movies. Although I do enjoy writing a bitchy review, obviously. I’ll continue with these monthly roundups and will try to review the movies I see in the cinema. I also plan to continue the Blind Spot Project. I’ll post my 2019 choices for that next week after I finish posting my 2018 Top Ten Lists.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

As usual, January is a weak month for movie releases in the UK. Of the below, I’m only really interested in going to see Glass. The Mule & Green Book also sound decent.

The Favorite – Will wait for Netflix. Not a fan of the director. Hated The Lobster.

Welcome To Marwen – Really liked the plot synopsis for this but it’s had bad reviews.

Colette – Looks like a good story but stars Keira Knightly. Yuck. So will wait for Netflix.

Glass – The one film I’ll definitely go to, even though I’m not a huge fan of this trilogy. But I do like Shyamalan for the most part.

Mary Queen Of Scots – Again, it looks okay but it’s a Netflix movie for me. I’m not big on historical dramas.

The Mule – This stars Clint Eastwood so I can guarantee that my dad will be watching this one…

A Dog’s Way Home – Actually, I’m likely to go to this as well. It’s a cute doggo story so I can guarantee that my daughter will be dragging me to it…

Green Book – I really like the sound of this one and it’s had great reviews. If it’s shown near me, I may go.

There wasn’t a lot of music in the movies I watched in December (other than Mary Poppins Returns, obviously, but those songs were pretty boring). So here’s one of the best songs from Bumblebee’s overuse of 80’s music to shove all its Eightiesness in our faces. Tears For Fears are underrated. Mad World is one of the best songs ever. But they of course didn’t use that one in Bumblebee…

Aquaman (2018) Review

Aquaman (2018)

Directed by James Wan

Based on Aquaman by Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Aquaman, Arthur Curry, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, must step forward to lead his people against his half-brother, Orm, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.

My Opinion:

Well, this was fun! I wasn’t expecting to like this all that much since DC films tend to suck (other than Wonder Woman). I now like two DCEU movies! Why can’t the others be like this one? Superhero movies should be fun, not dreary and dark and depressing as shit. But maybe that’s just me: I prefer them to all be like Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Aquaman is a bit silly, though, so I’m sure it won’t be for everyone. I loved the silly. It gets a bit more bonkers as the movie goes on, which I also loved. Weirdass giant sea creatures were fun to see in a DC film and the whole underwater thing worked well and gave the movie a different feel from other superhero films, which are all becoming WAY too damn similar. Jason Momoa was also a lot of fun to watch, mainly because you can tell that he’s having a lot of fun playing this character. Okay – and he’s also hot. But my heart still belongs to Thor. Chris Hemsworth is still the ultimate hottie.

The two main female roles were also very strong, which is becoming more popular in movies. We don’t want wussy, useless women. Amber Heard & Nicole Kidman kick ass. Who ever though Kidman would kick ass?? And Amber Heard’s character was cool – I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about her as I’ve never thought she was the greatest actress. Hell, I even really liked the love story between Aquaman’s parents. I don’t normally go for that sort of thing but all the characters were so likeable in this that you wanted everyone to live happily ever after. I can’t say I give the slightest shit about either Superman or Batman in these DCEU films. The characters need to be likeable if we’re going to care about what happens to them! Hollywood still hasn’t quite figured this out.

Beyond that, I don’t know what else to say about this movie. I always struggle to “review” superhero movies. They’re fun & I enjoy them while watching them but it’s not a favorite genre of mine. I don’t expect anything Oscar worthy from them, though – I just want to switch off for a couple of hours & be entertained. Aquaman was definitely entertaining and I may have possibly liked it even more than a few of the MCU movies(!!). It was the final movie I went to in the cinema in 2018 and it was a good one to finish the year. I really enjoyed it (as did the hubby & the kid, so it was a good family movie too).

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by all my 2018 Year-End Top Ten lists. So I may sneak in a viewing of Roma this weekend in case it’s worthy of the top ten (I’ll just pretend I watched it in 2018!). For now, these are all the movies I watched in 2018. Yikes. I’m actually going to cut down in 2019…

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

Happy New Year, everyone! I have a couple of leftover movies that I saw in the cinema in December but didn’t review: Mary Poppins Returns & Aquaman. I’ll try to review Aquaman tomorrow (enjoyed that way more than I was expecting!). Then I’ll try to post my December Roundup next week followed by my 2018 Year-End Top Ten Lists. Woohoo! I love lists! 🙂

Here’s my review of Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Directed by Rob Marshall

Based on Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1930s London, twenty-five years after the events of the original film, it sees Mary Poppins, the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returning after a family tragedy.

My Opinion:

This was fine. Somewhat enjoyable. A bit “So what?”. Completely pointless. I’ve been getting very bored with sequels, prequels, reboots, etc etc etc. I want to see something new. We have a fantastic Mary Poppins film already with a practically perfect Julie Andrews (she’s actually perfect – Andrews IS Mary Poppins). I know reboots, etc, work occasionally and I admit that it can be fun to once again see beloved characters. I think I come across as grumpy too often on this blog! I like the continuation of stories with characters that I like sometimes. But I don’t like when they feel like cash-grabs and/or they feel pointless or just don’t work and feel like inferior copies. Mary Poppins Returns felt like an inferior copy to me.

The thing I disliked the most about this movie is what I thought I would most enjoy: I really didn’t like Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. I normally love Blunt and thought she was the perfect choice when cast. The way she speaks in this got on my nerves (too posh – it sounded phoney) and this film actually made the character somewhat unlikeable. She seemed too stern whereas Andrews was also stern but there was a kindness and playfulness that Blunt didn’t manage to convey. To be fair, I’ve not read the books and Blunt’s version may be more faithful. But a lot of us grew up watching Andrews so I can’t help but compare Blunt to Mary Poppins in the original film. Andrews will always be the only Mary Poppins to me.

The other thing they were never going to live up to in this was the songs in the original film, which are some of the catchiest Disney songs ever. I saw this about a week ago and I can’t say I can immediately remember how any of the songs went. There were a couple that were okay but nothing very memorable, unlike things like A Spoonful Of Sugar or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Okay – one final thing & then I’ll try to say something nice: The story in this was pretty dull as well. Not that anyone is watching this for some complex plot so this isn’t a huge complaint for me. It was just such a predictable & uninteresting story.

Now onto the good things about this movie! I thought some of the sets looked pretty great (I enjoyed the dance number with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the lamplighters as well as the lovely balloon bit at the end). The film was colorful and I loved the costumes, especially what Mary Poppins wore (I like her funky shoes). Speaking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I liked his character. He was probably my favorite of the new main characters (I found most the others a bit dull, though, and Meryl Streep’s bit was a bit stupid and felt thrown in there just to add Meryl Streep to yet another movie). Oh, and my favorite bits of all: Dick Van Dyke and especially Angela F*^king Lansbury!

Lansbury rules! Love her so much. Have loved her since Murder, She Wrote, which is a totally awesome show (don’t you dare tell me otherwise). And she’s Mrs. Potts, people! And she sounds exactly the same now at 93 as she did in Beauty And The Beast! Lansbury is a national treasure, just like Julie Andrews. By the way – why didn’t Andrews have a cameo?? Perhaps it’s better she’s not associated with this version but giving Lansbury & Van Dyke cameos was the best thing this movie did and really added to my enjoyment. I briefly felt like a kid again thanks to them. I’ll give this movie half a point more just for the addition of Lansbury & Van Dyke…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Splendor In The Grass (1961) Blind Spot Review

Splendor In The Grass (1961)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie, Barbara Loden, Zohra Lampert, Fred Stewart, Joanna Roos, John McGovern, Jan Norris, Martine Bartlett, Gary Lockwood, Sandy Dennis, Crystal Field, Marla Adams, Lynn Loring, Phyllis Diller, Sean Garrison

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A fragile Kansas girl’s love for a handsome young man from the town’s most powerful family drives her to heartbreak and madness.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

Splendor In The Grass was going to be a 2019 Blind Spot choice but it was on TV so I decided to take the opportunity to watch it this year instead. I’m glad I did. I loved it. In ranking these above, I kept changing the order around between this & Metropolis but, while Metropolis is the better and more iconic film, Splendor In The Grass is the one I enjoyed more. It’s quite a girly film for me but I love a devastating, heartbreaking love story. Love should be painful! And god I love some good sexual tension in movies. It was palpable in this. It reminded me a bit of Brief Encounter. So much sexual frustration!

A big reason I wanted to see this was because I wanted to explore more of Natalie Wood’s films. She’s fantastic in this and entirely to thank for this film being so raw and emotional. She makes this movie the classic that it is. Warren Beatty is fine (this was his very first movie role) and they had good chemistry but I think his and all the other roles in this movie could’ve easily been filled by other actors and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Natalie Wood is the true star here and your heart breaks for her and you seriously want these two to rip each other’s clothes off and just have some damn fun. She was so lovely. I mean, look how lovely she is in this mustard top. Who the hell looks good in mustard?!

I suppose there’s also the real-life mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood which now makes the film feel even more tragic. In her despair & heartbreak, her character tries to drown herself and it’s widely known now that she had a terrible fear of water and was dreading doing that scene. This is from IMDb trivia:

“For the scene in which Deanie tries to drown herself in the lake, Natalie Wood asked Elia Kazan if she could do it in a controlled studio tank because she had a great fear of water – particularly dark water. “I assured her it was a very shallow lake and that her feet would always be close to the bottom,” said Kazan. “She said that even if her feet were on the bottom, she’d be in a panic of fear about it. So I asked my assistant, Charlie Maguire, to get into the water with her, just out of camera range, while she played the scene of struggling to save herself. This didn’t entirely reassure her, but she did the scene and did it well – then clutched Charlie. ‘Cut!’ I cried. On dry land she continued to shake with fear, then laughed hysterically, with relief.”

This is one of those films that wouldn’t necessarily be loved by everyone nowadays. I think it depends on if you can watch an older film (this was made in 1961 but set in 1928) and judge it by the standards of its time and when it was set. I see too many people judge older movies based on today’s ideals & morals and it always annoys me. Times change and people change. This movie has very outdated ideas on sex and the roles of men & women but that’s just the way things were. Wood’s character is a “good girl” and expected to stay that way while Beatty’s character is frustrated by his desire to have sex with her but also knowing he can’t “spoil” her so is actually encouraged to have sex with someone else instead. Beatty’s character is quite an asshole, by today’s standards especially, and there are times when the men in this act in ways that aren’t tolerated anymore (as with Beatty’s sister, who is considered an embarrassment to the family as she’s very promiscuous).

As I said, though, it’s Wood’s heartbreaking performance that made this movie such an emotional experience plus I’m always a sucker for tragic romance over a traditional “and they lived happily ever after” fairytale. Give me pain & tragedy! It feels more real. If that’s your type of thing, I think you may enjoy this film and I’d certainly recommend it if you want to see Wood at her best. I loved this movie and it’s probably one of my favorite Blind Spot choices in the three years I’ve been doing the Blind Spot Project.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Metropolis (1927) Blind Spot Review

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Based on Metropolis (1925 novel) by Thea von Harbou

Starring: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 89 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Splendor In The Grass
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Well, I didn’t manage to watch my 12 Blind Spot choices this year as life got too busy but at least I watched eight. Better than nothing! And five of them were well worth the time and definitely worthy Blind Spot picks. The best was indeed Metropolis, which I’ve weirdly been putting off seeing for years despite loving the look of it and liking plenty of silent films. I watched it months ago but also put off reviewing it as it’s one of those where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to do it any sort of justice. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said? It’s a brilliant, gorgeous film and so eerily ahead of its time. Oh, and yes I loved Enter The Dragon so I have it at number one in the above list. Of course Metropolis is the superior film but I always rank according to what I enjoyed the most and I had more fun with Enter The Dragon. I also absolutely adored Splendor In The Grass and did have that at number two until now as it moved me in a way that Metropolis didn’t but putting Metropolis below it just didn’t seem right as it’s a damn masterpiece. But I may change my mind & switch the order again. I’m like that. (I’ll try to review Splendor In The Grass tomorrow)

Metropolis of course also counts as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project. As I started that in 2013, I’m still working off that list. It breaks my heart to see old films slowly being knocked off that list & replaced with modern ones. Since 2013, Metropolis has dropped from 89 to 110. I just looked now to see what’s higher and got thoroughly annoyed at six Christopher Nolan movies having higher ratings than Metropolis. No way! Am I seriously the only person who thinks Nolan is massively overrated? I’ve only truly liked one of his movies (The Prestige). And Avengers: Infinity War is a fun film but it sure as shit isn’t Top 250 material. Okay – I’ll shut the hell up since I’ve ranked Enter The Dragon above Metropolis so I guess people just like what they like.

What I find interesting is that Fritz Lang’s film M, which I reviewed HERE, is actually higher in the list than Metropolis. Although it’s also a visual masterpiece and a brilliant example of filmmaking done right, I don’t think it’s the better film of the two. I can see why it’s higher, though, as it’s a more “accessible” film for a modern audience. It’s not silent, which I know puts some people off. It’s also a fantastic crime thriller, which is a genre with lots of fans. It’s a genre I rarely like, though. Give me sci-fi and fantasy. Metropolis is right up my alley but I can fully understand why some would find it overlong and probably even boring, although that makes me a little sad. I mean, look at these amazing images! Look! WOW. This is from 1927! Did this not blow people’s minds back then?? It must have. Although, in reading about it, it had some very negative reviews at the time.

The most negative review I saw on Wikipedia was from H.G. Wells, “who accused it of “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” He faulted Metropolis for its premise that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, wondered who was buying the machines’ output if not the workers, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein.” A lot of reviewers at the time called the story silly & simplistic. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well, especially considering how long ago it was made, but it’s not as scarily prophetic as some later sci-fi films exploring similar themes and ideas involving the future of mankind. There’s still a huge divide between the rich and the poor but our world looks very different from Lang’s vision and he never could have predicted today’s technology and the way in which it controls us mentally more than physically. We’re living in a dystopian future as predicted but it’s a very different dystopia than Lang predicted. So, while this film is stunningly beautiful, I can’t say I connected with it quite as much as some other sci-fi classics when it came to the overall story.

Before I end this so called review, I figured I should also mention The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari as it’s another example of German Expressionism in film. That’s two silent German Expressionist movies I’ve seen! I’m, like, an expert now! Okay – I have zero knowledge on this topic. All I know is that it looks cool as shit and I could spend all day looking at the type of imagery used in these two films. It’s stark and haunting and a little bit creepy and I love it. I like my art a little bit creepy (H.R. Giger is the best). So, again, this is my type of thing but won’t be to everyone’s taste. I admit to being a sucker for great visuals in a film. Give me great imagery & cinematography and I’m happy. Add a beautiful score as well and I’m over the damn moon, such as in a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. That’s epic filmmaking. That’s the type of thing I expect when I think “Top 250 Films Of All Time”. Metropolis is iconic, beautiful, and epic. To me, at least. To others, it’s probably boring as shit. Story-wise, it’s not perfect. It’s a little bit messy and I can see how those at the time probably found it pretentious. Would I stick a Metropolis poster up in my cinema room (if I was rich & had such a thing)? Hell Yeah! The film is a work of art. Is it a new all-time favorite film of mine? No, I’ll admit it’s not. If I’m honest, I’ll put Splendor In The Grass just above it on my list. I enjoyed it more. I told you I’d probably change my mind! But nothing can top the artistry of Metropolis.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices) (2011) Review

Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices)
星を追う子ども
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Directed & Written by Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Hisako Kanemoto, Kazuhiko Inoue, Miyu Irino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this film for ages. It was recommended to me by S.G. of Rhyme And Reason a very long time ago & I picked up the DVD right away but then it sat on a shelf for years (like most DVDs I buy). Thanks for the recommendation, S.G.! Like Shinkai’s other work, it’s a lovely film and I really enjoyed it. I have to say I slightly prefer his other films, though, which I didn’t expect as the story in Journey To Agartha is much more “me”.

This anime is from director Makoto Shinkai, who also made Your Name and two beautiful short films that I watched recently: 5 Centimetres Per Second & The Garden Of Words. I’m still fairly new to anime so I stick to the most mainstream stuff and admit that Studio Ghibli will always be what I love the most. Beyond that, Shinkai & Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc) are the two main directors I’ve been exploring. So far, I think I slightly prefer Shinkai’s work. This is mainly because of his style more than the actual stories themselves: his films are beautiful works of art. They’re all very “teenage love story”, though, so I was looking forward to Journey To Agartha as it sounded like a far more interesting plot. It’s “weird” and much darker than the other Shinkai films I’ve seen.

But I couldn’t really get into this one. I think the reason was partly because I couldn’t help but keep comparing it some of the Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s a bit of Castle In The Sky crossed with Howl’s Moving Castle and a sprinkle of Spirited Away. Those are brilliant, of course, so nothing from other directors or studios can really compare to them. When I want that sort of style, I watch a Ghibli film. From the little I’ve seen, I prefer when Shinkai has stuck to his own style. Your Name worked really well for him so I don’t think he needs to try to make a Ghibli-inspired film. I also didn’t really connect with the characters in this one in the same way I did with those in his other films (such as the woman in The Garden Of Words – she was a strong character). The story in this was also intriguing but the plot was a little messy (but Howl’s Moving Castle can be accused of that too).

I do think this film really picked up at the end, though. The climactic scene was pretty cool & intense (don’t let your young kids watch this one – it’s aimed at an older audience). And this dude was pretty groovy, even though he’s one of the most obvious Ghibli-inspired things:

Oh yeah! And I forgot that the girl’s animal companion in this reminded me very much of the one in Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Journey To Agartha but I haven’t yet seen an anime film that I’ve not enjoyed. This one won’t be an absolute favorite, though. I think my expectations may have been a little high as, looking at the images, it looked like one I’d love. However, I’d like to give it another try sometime as I watched it after a crappy night out so probably wasn’t in the right kind of mood. I’ll see what the kid thinks of it once she’s a couple of years older and I’ll see if my opinion changes on a re-watch. For now, I’m a bigger fan of Your Name.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ll be reviewing Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai later today. I can’t quite decide if I preferred Journey To Agartha or Mirai…

Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms & The Grinch Movie Reviews

Three more quickies today as I try to catch up on reviewing the 2018 films I’ve seen. Two of these were okay (just okay) and one was pretty dreadful…

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018)

Directed by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

My Opinion:

I love the first Wreck-It Ralph. I think it’s easily one of the better Disney films of recent years and I appreciated that it felt like such an original idea. Hell, it’s almost as good as Pixar’s films! (Almost). And being a lover of the Eighties, I of course loved the classic video game element. Therefore, it was likely that I wouldn’t enjoy this sequel as much. It doesn’t have the magic of the first film (as is often the case with sequels). And it also loses the simple video game innocence of the first film by making the Internet the focus of this one (and having all the brand names in your face constantly). I hate the Internet. Okay… I’m on it all the damn time… (like now). But I’d still rather be living in the pre-Internet Eighties again.

I’ll start with the best thing about this sequel: Ralph & Vanellope. I love these characters and they’re just as loveable in the sequel as in the first film. Actually, Vanellope is even better in this one – she’s much sweeter since becoming friends with Ralph. They make this movie worth watching and I did really enjoy seeing them again even though I didn’t like the story itself all that much. I also enjoyed the “Oh My Disney” bit. It kind of goes against saying I wasn’t crazy about all the commercialism but I admit that I love Disney. I’m a Disney whore! I love going into the damn Disney Store. I’m such a child. So, I did really like seeing Vanellope with all the Disney princesses. Those bits were a lot of fun and I liked spotting so many other Disney characters & references. Oh and I loved that one cameo (don’t want to spoil it)! Screw it – This is a Disney film. They’re allowed to Disney-fy the crap out of it! I liked those bits just fine.

Where it fails is when it talks about eBay & memes & viral videos & etc etc etc. And the end gets a bit bizarre and didn’t really work for me at all. I really missed the innocence of the first film. This was okay but where can they go from here? It was just a little disappointing but my expectations weren’t too high anyway since Disney sequels are rarely all that great. Oh, but the end credits scenes were brilliant! There are two: one partway through the credits and one at the very end. I highly recommend staying for them as they’re pretty much better than the entire movie itself.

My Rating: 7/10

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (2018)

Directed by Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston

Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann & The Nutcracker by Marius Petipa

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key.

My Opinion:

Wow – this has very negative reviews & ratings on IMDb. I don’t fully understand why. I think people were definitely too harsh on this one. No, it’s certainly not great and is quite weak for a Disney film but it was lovely to look at and had a fun story. Hell, I enjoyed it more than that live-action and completely pointless Beauty And The Beast. At least this is a story I didn’t already know and isn’t a re-hash of a far superior film.

Maybe the story was a little too weird for audiences these days? People don’t really go for anything slightly bizarre anymore. As I said, it’s quite a lovely looking film and I liked that it felt a bit like Narnia at first. It makes for a good winter movie in the lead up to Christmas. I also thought the main girl was very good, just as she was in Interstellar (she was the only good thing about that overblown Nolan film).

And Morgan Freeman is in this. Yay! (Am I allowed to admit to loving him again yet? Are people over the “oh my god, he said flirty things to women!” bullshit?). And Helen Mirren – I like that saucy minx too. Unfortunately, Keira Knightley is in this as well. Have I mentioned that she annoys me? (Yes, I have. Many times). Speaking of her and how I said in my previous review that I’m a Disney whore: Knightley recently got on her high horse again and said she doesn’t let her kid(s?) watch Disney movies because they’re a bad influence and blah blah blah. Screw that. How about you talk to them & teach them the difference between reality & fantasy and then let them watch what every other kid watches and enjoys? Are they not allowed to watch this movie, then???

Anyway. This movie was okay but it was also missing something. I can’t quite figure out what it was missing, though. It has the right elements to make it a family classic but it’s already fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing it. Maybe it’s Knightley’s fault! Her role is too big. She got on my nerves, especially with that stupid voice she put on. Yeah, let’s blame her. Otherwise, this is a decent enough family Disney movie that doesn’t quite deserve the horrible reviews it has had.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Grinch (2018)

Directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney

Based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury

Narrated by Pharrell Williams

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows the Grinch as he plans to ruin Whoville’s Christmas celebration by stealing all the town’s decorations and gifts.

My Opinion:

Ugh. No. Okay – I’m a big fan of the 1966 American TV classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Who isn’t?! That show has been a yearly American tradition for ages now. It’s one of the most beloved holiday TV specials. That’s why they shouldn’t have done this film. They were never going to live up to something that is, quite frankly, almost complete perfection.

Speaking of movies fading from my mind only a few weeks after seeing them, I can barely remember a thing about The Grinch now. I remember liking his adorable and long-suffering dog Max, but the same goes for the 1966 version anyway. I think the biggest problem with this version is this: The Grinch isn’t enough of an asshole. TV Grinch was gloriously mean. Then, to make it even worse, this movie added a bullshit backstory to help explain why The Grinch is a bit of an asshole. We don’t need a stupid backstory! Can’t someone just be an asshole for the hell of it? I mean, I’m a bit of an asshole for no good reason. This is probably why I’ve always slightly preferred The Grinch before his heart grows. He’s damn funny at the beginning of the 1966 version. He’s boring as shit in this lifeless adaptation.

Oh well – I guess it’s still not as bad as that Jim Carrey monstrosity, which is one of my most-hated movies of all time. Just leave The Grinch the fuck alone, Hollywood. That’s what he wants anyway! Oh, and why the hell did they have Pharrell Williams only narrate this movie and not do the music as well? His music is one of the things that makes Despicable Me so great. Illumination is clearly never going to live up to that film ever again.

My Rating: 4.5/10

A Simple Favor, American Animals & Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Reviews

I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…

A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

My Opinion:

I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film. A “chick flick” with dark humor and a fucking filthy mouth from Blake Lively, who gives her husband’s Deadpool character a run for his money. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this a chick flick but any movie with two female leads tends to be labelled with that annoying title. As a girl who isn’t very girly, I appreciate a movie with female leads that isn’t all soppy romantic bullshit or Bridget Fucking Jones or Mamma Barf-O-Mia (no offense to anyone who likes those). 😉 But this is more my type of chick flick.

Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively are far from favorite actresses of mine but they couldn’t have been more perfect for these roles: Kendrick as a nerdy prude and Lively as a beautiful, sophisticated bitch. They both seemed to be having a lot of fun and were pretty damn hilarious. I feel that actresses are rarely given any credit for being funny. Sorry – here’s a quick rant that I’ve had before: Speaking of the director, Paul Feig, he also did Bridesmaids. I don’t like Bridesmaids – it’s not my type of humor. But I can’t deny that there are funny moments and the women in it were very good for that type of film. The Hangover has very similar humor but an all-male cast and a much higher rating on IMDb. Neither are my thing but Bridesmaids is the far superior “dumb comedy”. There seems to be a real backlash anytime women do comedy. It’s odd.

Rant over! Back to this movie. This film falls into several categories and I kind of loved that it’s hard to define. Dark comedy, crime, mystery, thriller… The story has twists and it keeps you guessing and it’s kind of stupid but it’s meant to be silly. It was a great “chill out” movie – you’re not meant to take the mystery too seriously. I don’t know if this will make some turn their noses up but it reminded me of the pulpy mystery thrillers that are guilty reading pleasures of mine sometimes (but with added black humor, making things much more fun). Plus, Lively’s hubby was a hottie so that was enjoyable too.

I won’t say much more as this is a movie where you’re better off not knowing too much about the plot beforehand. If you watch it with an open mind & don’t take the story too seriously you should have a good time.

My Rating: 7.5/10

American Animals (2018)

Directed by Bart Layton

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Animals is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.

My Opinion:

Okay – American Animals is a far more worthy film than A Simple Favor. However, it almost bored me to tears. Considering that the true story involving a bizarre library heist is really damn interesting, they somehow managed to make this film a bit of a snoozefest. Well, okay – the heist itself was exciting but it takes ages to get to that small part of the film. I think the biggest problem may be that it’s part-documentary, which didn’t really work. So it went back & forth between the actors acting it out & the real-life guys talking about it. This could’ve worked but it just didn’t. It gave the film a weird flow plus the main actor looking nothing whatsoever like the real guy was somewhat distracting.

Huh. I really have nothing more to say about this. It was disappointing. It actually would’ve made for a much better full-out documentary instead. At least they tried something a little different style-wise, I guess. Oh! I did like that they looked like the Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video when they put on their cheesy 70’s-looking disguises for the heist. Funny.

My Rating: 6/10

Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

Directed by Crispian Mills

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site unleashing unspeakable horror.

My Opinion:

Wow. This was pretty dreadful. I was excited for this one before it came out as I think a lot of us saw “horror comedy” and the names Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and thought we’d have another Shaun Of The Dead on our hands. Ha! Not even close.

The idea was a good one: fracking causing creatures to come to the surface & attack a snobby boarding school. Plus, I wanted to see this as it was partly filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I’ve been there. I think I’ve been to most the tourist caves in England plus the catacombs in Paris. I have a weird fascination with creepy, underground places. Anyway – Chislehurst Caves is a cool place & I recommend checking it out if you’re a weirdo like me. Maybe I’ll help Kent tourism! Here’s their website: Chislehurt Caves. Here’s an image from the website:

Oh. Was I meant to be talking about Slaughterhouse Rulez? I honestly can’t be arsed. It was a wasted cinema trip but just about good enough to check out on Netflix if you want to zone out to something stupid. The main characters are fairly decent so it’s good that you want them to survive and the remaining over-the-top rich asshole students to die. Pegg & Frost are odd and there was really no point of having them in the film at all. Oh, and Margot Robbie is nothing more than a cameo on a screen so don’t get all excited thinking she’s in this. And I currently can’t even remember what the creatures looked like so that’s not saying much.

My Rating: 5.5/10

A Star Is Born (2018) Review

A Star Is Born (2018)

Directed by Bradley Cooper

Based on A Star Is Born by William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker & Alan Campbell

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Star Is Born follows a hard-drinking musician (Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young singer (Gaga).

My Opinion:

I’m way behind on reviewing 2018 movie releases I’ve seen (I have 9 more to go!). So I’ll post a bunch of quickies this week, starting with this one since you know it’ll be up for shitloads of Oscars. Is it Oscar-worthy? I’d say that the performances definitely are although the story itself is one we’ve seen loads of times. The characters are very strong in this film, though, which kept me fully interested for its 2 hour 16 minute running time despite the fact that dreary dramas aren’t at all my type of thing.

It was good seeing this after watching Bette Midler in The Rose a few months ago. Milder was great but that movie seems to have been forgotten even though she was nominated for an Oscar. It’s a similar story of a rock star in a downward spiral and also well worth a watch if A Star Is Born is your type of thing. As I said, though, this story has been done many times so it was important to get the characters right. I was surprised at how “real” Cooper & Gaga felt, especially when it came to their relationship and how they felt about each other. I’m not at all a fan of either of them, which is why I didn’t rush out to see this one. But by the end, I just wanted them to live happily ever after and make great music together (their characters, not them – Lady Gaga isn’t my type of music). And… Sam Elliott!!! Loved him as Cooper’s brother. Who doesn’t love that stud? I’ll forever love him thanks to Mask & Road House. The most surprising thing, though, was seeing Andrew Dice Clay’s name in the credits at the end and actually having to Google him to see who the hell he played. Her father?! That was a big role! That was him? He was… good. Huh.

Is this film good enough to possibly win Best Picture? It’s certainly not up there with some of the absolute Oscar classics but at least it’s not one I’d be annoyed to see win. At the very least, it does deserve Oscars in the acting categories. What it doesn’t deserve is some of the weird backlash it’s had. I had to read these words (which annoy the fuck out of me) too many times when seeing people discuss this movie on Twitter: “toxic masculinity“. Seriously? Fuck off with that phrase. Cooper is great in this film and his character is broken and he needs help. I didn’t find anything at all toxic about him or their relationship. They both fully supported each other’s careers (he only criticized hers a little when he felt she wasn’t being true to herself anymore). They never stopped loving each other despite their problems. How was he toxic? Had their characters’ roles been reversed, no one would be calling Gaga’s character “toxic”. No one called Midler “toxic” in The Rose. Sorry for the rant – I just get sick of self-righteous bullshit phrases being thrown around online these days. Guess I’m just old since I found this to be a strong love story and pretty damn heartbreaking. And it’s so not my usual type of film.

My Rating: 8/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2018

Happy December, everyone! Is winter over yet? Oh man – I’m mega late with this update & it’s now almost January. That’s even worse than December. Have I mentioned that I hate this cold & dreary time of year??? Well, here’s what I watched & read way back in November…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED

Bohemian Rhapsody – 7/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

**I’ll try to review all the below 2018 releases in full later so I’ll only talk a little about the two I saw at home.

A Star Is Born – 8/10

Mirai – 7/10

Ralph Breaks The Internet – 7/10

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – 6.5/10

The Boat That Rocked (aka Pirate Radio) – I’d always wanted to check this out sometime as I find the pirate radio thing that happened in the UK fascinating. I love the spirit of pirate radio. Sticking it to corporate radio bullshit! And I’ve always had a thing for Pump Up The Volume (I think it was a teenage nerd dream of mine to be Slater’s anti-establishment pirate DJ in that). This movie was pretty bloody awful, though. Could they really not just make a movie based on the true story of pirate radio, which would be thoroughly interesting, instead of an overlong piece of fiction filled with hateful characters? What I find most fascinating, however, is just how much the world has changed in the ten years since this was released. This couldn’t be made in the same way now as there’d be a huge backlash due to how the female characters are portrayed (and a scene involving Gemma Arterton is rapey beyond belief). I have to get the hell off the internet sometimes when I see words like “woke” and “problematic” and I just want to puke. I’m Gen X and rude as fuck and offended by nothing so, if I found this movie slightly uncomfortable in 2018, I’m hoping that the people who use those words never check it out. I’ll say two good things about it, though: Philip Seymour Hoffman was really good and the soundtrack was AMAZING. Holy hell! Richard Curtis must have some serious connections to have gotten the rights to so many great songs for this film (I looked it up – there are 60 songs in the movie). It was actually worth watching for the constant background music alone. I’d say the movie somewhat captured the spirit of pirate radio’s love of good music and wanting to share it with others. It’s just a shame that a good movie about pirate radio wasn’t made instead of this silly one. – 5.5/10

Slaughterhouse Rulez – 5.5/10

The Grinch – 5/10

Better Watch Out – This was an odd one. I was excited about this as I like a good Christmas horror comedy: Gremlins is an all-time favorite & I thought Krampus was a fun film. The marketing was strange for this… I got the impression that it might be another comedy horror such as Krampus but it’s nothing of the sort despite being listed as a “comedy crime horror thriller” on IMDb. Everything I read said to avoid spoilers for this so I’ll not say much about it other than that I absolutely hated the turn that this film took. As I said before, it takes a hell of a lot to offend me but I didn’t like the creepy way this played out. And, as always, I hate movies filled with hateful characters (though the girl wasn’t too bad). I don’t know. This has an okay IMDb rating as far as horrors go so clearly some must like it but I can’t for the life of me imagine who as I can think of no one I would recommend this movie to. – 4.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Bird Box by Josh Malerman – I enjoyed this horror novel. If you liked A Quiet Place, you’d probably like this story as well. In the book, people start going mad and killing themselves & others after seeing *something*. No one knows the cause so people start barricading themselves in their homes & wearing blindfolds at all times. I’d say the only negative was that I didn’t love the main character as she seems so cold & uncaring but it’s also completely understandable as this terrible new existence has made her that way. This has now been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock and I have to say I hate the look of the trailer as it looks like too much has been changed (plus she’s very wrong for the role). I’ll check it out but I highly recommend reading the book first if you’re interested. – 4/5

Ghastle And Yule by Josh Malerman – This was a short story hidden at the end of Bird Box and, oh my god, I loved it! I liked it so much that I tweeted the author (I never do that – I just felt the need to let him know I appreciated it). The story is about two rival horror filmmakers and I highly recommend it to lovers of filmmaking & especially classic horror filmmaking. The way Malerman describes each of their films in detail made them feel like real directors and actual movies I’d seen. Seriously – every movie described in this story needs to be made for real. Horror filmmakers are missing out if they don’t do this. At the very least, the story itself should be a film. – 4.5/5

Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang – I’ve only read two of the stories in this collection so far. I’ll try to review this once I’ve read the whole book.

Currently Reading: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – But I have to return it to the library and I’ve not finished it. Damn. Good so far. Typical Hornby.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

– The Walking Dead – Ugh. Why do I keep doing this to myself?! This show has sucked for years. It has sucked since Darabont left. And I never loved Rick but it’s completely pointless without him now…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans! Too busy with work. And stupid Christmas. I may try to review the 2018 films I’ve not yet reviewed. And I’ll do end-of-year Top Ten lists as always but that may be the first week of January.

December Movies I Want To See:

Sorry To Bother You – Sounds like a “love it or hate it”. I do like weird.

The Old Man & The Gun – Sounds like an interesting story but I’ll wait for Netflix.

Mortal Engines – Damn, reviews aren’t great but I liked the book. Looks like it’ll be another “wait for Netflix” film.

Aquaman – Meh. DC movies suck but he’s pretty damn hot so I might watch this one.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Saw it. It’s brilliant! And I’m not a huge superhero fan.

An Elephant Sitting Still – I know nothing at all about this but it’s a Chinese film with decent reviews (but probably too obscure for me to be able to ever see it easily). And I’ve just seen that it’s four hours long?! Huh. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Mary Poppins Returns – I’ll go as it looks like a lovely family film and I like Emily Blunt but I’m seriously bored with reboots and remakes and sequels and whatever.

Bumblebee – Tickets booked! I’ll have seen this by the time this posts. Sounds like a fun family movie.

Holmes & Watson – Could be fun. Could be shit. Will Ferrell movies are iffy.

**I’ll end with a song from the thoroughly disappointing The Boat That Rocked movie with the thoroughly fantastic soundtrack. I’ve always loved Crimson And Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells. I seriously always thought this song was about taking a girl’s virginity in the grass but I can’t find any evidence of this online and I’m now weirdly disappointed that there’s no actual meaning. This is from Wikipedia: “The title, “Crimson and Clover”, was decided before a song had been written for it. The combination of unknown meaning came to James as he was waking up, comprising his favorite color – crimson – and his favorite flower – clover.”

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Review

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 biographical film about the British rock band Queen. It follows singer Freddie Mercury’s life leading to Queen’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies where I’m glad I waited a couple of weeks before reviewing it. If I’d written it while still on a “high” just after seeing it, I’d have rated it too highly. It’s a fun film. I like Queen and of course love Freddie Mercury (I did a list of My Top Ten Queen Songs HERE). Who doesn’t love Freddie?? He’s a legend and I miss the days when we had proper performers like him. And Bowie. (I’m still not over being upset about Bowie’s death either!). Anyway, this film was a lot of fun but it’s not going to be an all-time classic. It’s somewhat disposable and, while Rami Malek did well, it’s not an Oscar-worthy performance. I never really felt like I was watching Freddie Mercury. (Sorry!)

I can see that this film is similar to The Greatest Showman: audiences love it while critics have been harsh in their reviews. It’s easy to understand why it has fans. It’s great hearing all of Queen’s biggest singles and witnessing the creation of Bohemian Rhapsody was an absolute joy (whether or not it was accurate – I have no idea). And as a huge fan of Wayne’s World, I personally adored the fact that they had Mike Myers playing a record executive who hated their weird opera song. Brilliant.

Rami Malek may not exactly feel like Mercury but, to be fair, I don’t think anyone could ever do Mercury justice. Malek was still very good & fun to watch. I think credit hasn’t really been given to the rest of the band in the film, though. Gwilym Lee was especially good as Brian May. However, what I possibly enjoyed the most was seeing Freddie’s relationship with Mary Austin. I knew of her but knew very little of their relationship. I was glad that there was so much focus on her as she was such an important part of his life and I thought Lucy Boynton was great. Again, I think she’s probably not been given enough credit but, to be fair to Malek, it’s probably much easier playing a character who isn’t as well known as Mercury. I also liked her a lot in the fantastic Sing Street so she’s definitely one to watch.

I haven’t read any reviews so don’t actually know what negative things the critics are saying but I do know they like a gritty drama when it comes to biopics and Bohemian Rhapsody certainly isn’t a gritty drama. The movie feels very watered down. It’s a very “family friendly” version of the life of a rock band. Come on – where was all the raunchy sex?!?!? I don’t really mind when Hollywood movies do this, though. If you wants facts, watch a documentary or read a book about Queen. This movie is pure entertainment. As long as you know what you’ll be getting if you watch it, you should enjoy it if you like Queen’s music and just want to know a little bit about the band (but mostly Freddie). It’s a fun movie but not a great film. That was fine with me since I just wanted some light entertainment anyway.

My Rating: 7/10

I definitely have to end with the Wayne’s World clip…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2018

Happy November, everyone! It’s cold. It’s dark way too fucking early. I hate this time of year. It makes me feel like this:

Well, here’s what I watched & reviewed in October…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Since everyone does the horror thing in October, I mostly just re-posted & reblogged some short reviews I did of horror movies I watched this year. So these are just the brand new reviews that I posted in October.

Mandy – 7.5/10
Halloween (2018) – 6.5/10
The House With A Clock In Its Walls – 6.5/10
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – 6/10
Jug Face (aka The Pit) – 1.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Mandy – This is one that will probably grow on me. I’ve seen nothing else like it. I’ve already reviewed it in full HERE. – 7.5/10

Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem – The above image is from this movie, which I doubt anyone reading this has actually seen. Here’s some info from Wikipedia: “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is a Japanese-French anime adventure fantasy science fiction musical film. The film is the visual realization of Discovery, the second studio album by Daft Punk. Interstella 5555 tells the story of the abduction and rescue of an interstellar pop band. The film was produced by Daft Punk, Cédric Hervet and Emmanuel de Buretel with Toei Animation under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto. The film has no dialogue and uses minimal sound effects.” Yep – this movie is definitely not for everyone. If you absolutely love Daft Punk (I do) and like anime, you may enjoy it but it’s obviously for a very specific target audience. There’s no talking – it’s just Daft Punk songs through the whole movie so it’s like a long music video with a fun story. Is it a good film? Maybe. It’s certainly not perfect but I loved the style and the music. I admit that I love Daft Punk, though, so am likely to enjoy any type of art that they put out. I still prefer their film Electroma, however, which has similar themes regarding humanity & becoming human. I recommend both films but only to massive Daft Punk fans. – 7.5/10

The Garden Of Words – This (as well as the below film 5 Centimetres Per Second) is a very short anime film from the same director as Your Name (Makoto Shinkai). I liked both of these films a lot. I also went to an anime film in the cinema last weekend (Mirai) from the director of Wolf Children & Summer Wars (Mamoru Hosoda) so I think I’m getting a better idea of whose films I like beyond just Studio Ghibli (but nothing will ever top those). So far, I’m preferring the gorgeous style of Shinkai’s films and the simple human stories, which are often bittersweet. This story revolves around the friendship between a 15-year-old boy & 27-year-old woman who both feel a little lost. I probably liked 5 Centimetres Per Second just as much but felt the characters were a bit stronger in this one, especially the woman. – 7.5/10

5 Centimetres Per Second – Also from Makoto Shinkai, this short film reminded me a lot of Your Name when it came to the visuals and the story involving love with too many obstacles. If I was a teenage girl, I’d probably absolutely adore these films as they’re so often about young love and its difficulties (but I’m old & bitter!). I do like the bittersweet mood in Shinkai’s films but, more than anything, it’s the overall look that I love. This film is beautiful and I love movies where the stills (such as below) are works of art that you want to stick on your walls. I’m definitely looking forward to more films from this director, even though they’re often quite “teenage”. – 7.5/10

Fist Of Fury – I watched Enter The Dragon as one of my Blind Spot movies this year and absolutely loved it so said I’d like to watch Bruce Lee’s other films. I enjoyed this one as well but definitely far prefer Enter The Dragon, which has that completely funky Seventies thing going on (and John Saxon & Jim Kelly, who were groovy as shit). Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Lee plays Chen Zhen, a student of Huo Yuanjia, who fights to defend the honor of the Chinese in the face of foreign aggression, and to bring to justice those responsible for his master’s death.” This one isn’t as “fun” as Enter The Dragon (if you’re looking for that sort of thing in a martial arts film) but it’s a revenge story and I always like a good revenge story. Lee kicks ass (obviously), which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I found that I didn’t care enough about the characters. You need to feel the same desire for vengeance as the characters feel. In Mandy & in Kill Bill, I really wanted to see all those evil bastards get their comeuppance. I just found the story & characters a little weak in Fist Of Fury, especially compared to the main characters in Enter The Dragon having strong personalities and some good backstories. Oh well – I still enjoyed this and plan to watch more like it. Any recommendations, MIB? – 7.5/10

The Handmaiden – Well, this was a little saucy. This is from director Park Chan-wook, whose work I haven’t seen much of yet (Oldboy, Thirst, etc – I’ve only seen Stoker). As with Stoker, this was a really lovely film to look at but I far preferred the story in The Handmaiden and thought it was a much better film overall (although it felt a little too long). It also starts out very slow and almost Merchant-Ivory-boring-drama-like so have patience if you do watch it. It felt like nothing was really happening for ages and then WHAM!, you suddenly get all kinds of great double crossing and triple crossing and saucy sex and, shit, even some illustrated tentacle porn (!). You never know who you can trust and I liked that the movie kept you guessing after its first twist. And I hated those pervy men! I really enjoyed the story once it finally got going & loved the ending. (To clarify, I just mean the overall ending and not the specific final scene – I’m not that kinky). – 7.5/10

Bohemian Rhapsody – As this is a current film, I’ll try to review it in full soon. Really enjoyed it but it’s not going to be an all-time classic. – 7/10

What If (aka The F Word) – I liked this waaaay more than I expected to, considering I don’t go for romantic comedies often and Daniel Radcliffe does nothing whatsoever for me (obviously. gross – he’s a little kid). I’ll never ever see Harry Potter as a romantic lead but I do seem to like the movies that Zoe Kazan has made in this genre: Ruby Sparks was good and I absolutely loved In Your Eyes, which is my favorite romantic movie in a very long time (not counting cartoon romances – those are more believable. Carl & Ellie in Up! WALL-E & EVE!). My point is: I don’t like live action romance often because I don’t find it very realistic. The characters and the things they do feel so phoney. That’s why I enjoyed What If as the two characters felt more real than in a lot of rom-coms. Some things were a little too damn perfect, such as her amazing career as an artist and her lovely home and her cute outfits. Plus the ending we see over the end credits was a bit barfy. But the two main characters themselves had great chemistry, great conversations, and felt like the best friends that they immediately became. I thought it explored the issue of of “can a girl & a guy just be friends” quite well and you could really feel how difficult it was for Radcliffe to maintain the friendship (he’s clearly in love with her but she’s already in a serious relationship). Too bad everyone else in this was annoying, though. Their friends kind of sucked and I especially hated her sister. The two leads were good but the rest were a bunch of twentysomething twats. – 7/10

Timecrimes – I was really hoping to like this much more than I did (sorry, Brian!). I was intrigued by the following Wikipedia plot synopsis as I freaking love stories involving time-travel-fuckery: “This Spanish science-fiction thriller film stars Karra Elejalde as Héctor, a man who becomes part of a time loop and must stop his other selves from continuing to exist.” The time loop was interesting and hurt my brain just enough to keep me satisfied without leaving me totally lost (like with Primer). I think my only issue was that the main guy was a bit of a selfish prick, especially when it came to his treatment of that poor girl. Oh well – I did still enjoy the story as I do always love this sub-genre. I just got more enjoyment out of the fantastic Predestination & even that complicated Primer in a weird sort of way. Actually, these three films would make for an interesting trilogy of movies if you wanted to nerd-out on complex time travel films one night. – 7/10

Halloween (2018) – Disappointing. – 6.5/10

Labor Day – This movie was okay and probably the first time I found Josh Brolin somewhat hot. He didn’t even do it for me in The Goonies, although I was the perfect age to have a crush on him at the time. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.” Kate Winslet, as the depressed mother, once again gives a great performance. I’m not necessarily a fan but do think she’s one of the most talented actresses around and I really felt for her character. I seem to like films involving depressed old women. What does that say about me?! Anyway – Winslet & Brolin had good chemistry & I wanted them to live happily ever after but I can’t recommend this film to many as most would find it a little boring. I suppose it was. – 6.5/10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – The first one was much better & Jack Black is barely even in this one. – 6/10

The Dinner – Wow. This sucked. I read the book last year (review HERE). It wasn’t the most enjoyable read as the characters were all a bunch of total wankers but they’re actually much worse in the film. The story was intriguing in the book, though, and the film adaptation completely ruins it. At least the book felt somewhat original as each “act” was a different part of a fancy meal (appetiser, dessert, etc etc). That’s not used in the film at all. To be fair, I was so bored by the movie that I ended up playing on my phone (at home) & paying no attention whatsoever so I probably shouldn’t review it. Oh well – I just did. Sort of. Skip this movie. If you’re interested in the story, only read the book. If you want to save your time, I’ll tell you what their asshole kids did so you can skip this. Here you go! SPOILER:

The kids (3 teenage boys who are brothers & a cousin) kill a homeless woman by setting her on fire & filming it. Nice. This is revealed early in the film but is a big secret in the book. Their parents meet for dinner to discuss what to do about it (most want to cover it up). Rich, hateful, disgusting characters and the film does nothing to say that their behavior was wrong. Feels a little irresponsible. – 4/10

Jug Face (aka The Pit) – What a load of shit. The worst movie I’ve seen in the six-year history of my blog- 1.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

• The Outsider by Stephen King – This was okay but a little disappointing. Regulars know by now that I’m a huge King fan and always read every new book of his that comes out. He’s had some really good ones in recent years (I enjoyed the Mr. Mercedes series). This one started out well but it took way too long to get to the weird supernatural shit, which is what I like. The crime was also way too graphic and violent for my liking. Yeah, I love horror stories but don’t love gore or realistic violence and the start of this book was more of a crime novel, which I rarely go for. I don’t want to spoil things but the addition of a character from previous King novels really helped the second half of this book as I like that character a lot. But I felt that all the new characters in this one were a little weak and the finale was too similar to the endings of other King stories. Damn – I’ve just realized I’ll have to update my post where I ranked ALL the King books I’ve read (post HERE). Where will The Outsider go? Probably in the bottom ten. – 3/5

Currently Reading: Bird Box by Josh Malerman & Stories Of Your Life And Others (a collection of short sci-fi stories, including the one made into the film Arrival) by Ted Chiang.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Haunting Of Hill HouseI started watching this on Netflix as I’ve really liked some of Mike Flanagan’s films (especially Gerald’s Game & Absentia). I don’t think the TV format works for me anymore. Two episodes in and nothing has happened. I could’ve watched a movie instead in that time! I don’t have the patience or the time.

Doctor Who – Figured I should give this another try now that there’s a female Doctor. I started watching this just after moving to the UK when the Christopher Eccleston ones started. They were very good and then the David Tennant ones were even better (he’ll always be my favorite). I loved this show for a while but it all turned to shit when Tennant left and I believe different writers took over. I’ve watched the first two Jodie Whittaker episodes. While I think she may be okay (hard to tell yet), the stories were weak as shit. Is that really the best they could do for the first two episodes?! Should I bother continuing?

• Oh, and Grey’s Anatomy has started again. I never like to admit to watching that girly bullshit. My excuse is that the hubby never lets me watch anything good without him so I need something I’m allowed to watch when I’m alone…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Once again, nothing planned due to lack of time. May try to catch up on reviewing all the current films I’ve seen in the cinema. The end of November is also my six-year blogiversary so I’ll try to do my usual blogiversary post (it’ll be far shorter than my five-year post!).

Holy shit – Looks like there are a lot of cinema releases I kind of want to see in November, though. Damn.

November Movie Releases:

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – Ha! Maybe not. Dreadful reviews so far, I see.

Juliet, Naked – Shit, I didn’t realize a Nick Hornby adaptation was coming out. I like his books so I’ll try to read it then catch this on Netflix.

Widows – Crime drama isn’t a genre I love but the trailer looks good. It’s also a book I may read first and then check the movie out at home.

Overlord – Not sure on this. Looks like my type of weird shit but, again, think I’ll wait for it on Netflix.

The Grinch – Ugh. My daughter wants to go so I’m sure we’ll check it out but they better not fuck-up a beloved Christmas TV special from my childhood. At least nothing can be worse than that nightmare Jim Carrey version of this.

Wildlife – Good reviews but I’ll probably wait for Netflix unless it gets Oscar buzz.

They Shall Not Grow Old – Does look very interesting – will try to catch this as it’s going to air on TV.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Again, I’ll probably wait to watch this at home but am interested in seeing this documentary before the Tom Hanks film.

Suspiria – I’ll go to this but am sure it’ll piss me off. Make something original, Hollywood!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald – I have zero interest whatsoever in this. The first one was shockingly boring.

Robin Hood – Meh.

SerenityDiane Lane! I love her. Oh, Anne Hathaway… I hate her.

Shoplifters – What’s this?! It’s a Japanese film with amazing reviews. I’ve just watched the trailer & really want to see it but know it’s very unlikely to be showing anywhere near me.

Ralph Breaks The Internet – This is honestly the only mainstream movie I really want to go & see in November…

Creed II – I’ve been bugging the hubby to watch all the Rocky movies with me since I really liked the first one. He hasn’t. So I can’t watch this. I mean, WTF? I’m like a fucking DREAM wife. What wife wants to watch the Rocky movies?? Oh, and if he’s reading this: will you please let me watch more Akira Kurosawa films, dammit??? I’ve had that boxset for years.

The Possession Of Hannah Grace – A horror movie with decent ratings so far? If it’s a horror that’s actually good, I’ll watch it!

Three Identical Strangers – Intriguing story. I’ll watch this documentary someday.

Anna And The Apocalypse – Okay, a movie crossover that actually hadn’t occurred to me. Zombie apocalypse musical? Again, it’s a Netflix flick but I’ll watch it eventually.

I have to end with this clip from Interstella 5555, which was Daft Punk’s video for Digital Love:

Halloween (2018) Review

Halloween (2018)

Directed by David Gordon Green

Based on Characters by John Carpenter & Debra Hill

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set 40 years after the original film, the plot follows Laurie Strode as she prepares to face Michael Myers when he returns to Haddonfield, Illinois, after his killing spree on Halloween night in 1978.

My Opinion:

This will be a quick review as I don’t have time to write much. I only just watched this on Monday night but it would be stupid to review it after Halloween, so… here’s a quickie! To be honest, I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway (unlike the film Mandy, which I reviewed HERE earlier today).

The original Halloween is obviously a slasher classic. That’s thanks to the brilliant John Carpenter and, of course, the best horror film score ever. There have been loads of inferior slashers since and I can’t say that this 2018 film feels much different than all the copycats that’ve come along since 1978. I saw nothing in this film that I haven’t seen in hundreds of other horrors. It’s not an awful film. It’s just… Okay. And “just okay” annoys me.

Don’t get me wrong – I did get some enjoyment out of this one. It was great seeing Jamie Lee Curtis vs. Michael Myers once again and I of course love seeing a movie with a female lead of her age kicking ass at the box office. There were some pointless bits, like the inclusion of two completely unnecessary “reporters”, and the first half of the film feels like a copy of the 1978 film with teenagers (one babysitting) being targeted. However, that formula worked well in the first movie so I didn’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately, I think the big finale and final showdown were disappointing. I expected to find that all a bit more exciting after a 40-year wait.

Oh well. Halloween (2018 – why couldn’t they just give it a different title?!) is okay. If you’re a big fan of this series of films, you probably really enjoyed this one (even though it erases all previous sequels & is a direct sequel to the original film). I’ll be honest – I’ve not seen all the Halloween films. That’s unusual for me, considering that I grew up on stuff like this. I may get around to them all someday but I know that only the first one is really worth my time. I’ve always been more of an Elm Street girl anyway…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Let’s end with with John Carpenter’s amazing Halloween theme. Love it.

Mandy (2018) Review

Mandy (2018)

Directed by Panos Cosmatos

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke

Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this film. Mandy isn’t even the weirdest film I’ve seen: I watch loads of weird shit so this was actually fairly tame. But I can usually think of other movies to compare a film to so that I can give you a better idea of what sort of thing to expect if you watch it. I don’t know what can be compared to this one. Maybe some Lars von Trier (mostly Melancholia)? I definitely thought of Heavy Metal & Hellraiser a few times. I didn’t get a David Lynch vibe from this – Mandy is weird in a completely different sort of way (Mandy is more my type of weird than Lynch’s work). Maybe a bit of Under The Skin style-wise? Maybe. Not really. I don’t know. Mandy isn’t much like anything I’ve seen before. And I love that! As I watch so many films, I’m always searching for something that feels a little bit different. Mandy certainly satisfied that need.

But did I like it? I definitely enjoyed watching it and it was probably worth the extremely expensive trip into London to see it. Yes, I liked it. I didn’t love it – I just appreciated seeing something so memorable. I can’t imagine watching it again but, with something like this, I don’t feel the need to as I’ll never forget it. That’s also important to me as I watch so many films that end up being truly forgettable. There are movies I saw a year ago that I hardly remember a thing about now. What’s the point of that?? I feel like I waste too much time on movies but that’s because I’m always searching for something feels like a work of art. I’m happy to say that, although I’m still trying to fully sort out my feelings on it, Mandy was worth my time. I expect it to make it into my Top Ten at the end of this year but it’s very hard to know where to place it at the moment.

Let’s start with what I liked the most: My favorite thing was probably Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score. What a terrible loss to the world of filmmaking. Mandy is dedicated to him – it’s one of the last films he scored before his death. He’s most known for his work on several of the brilliant Denis Villeneuve’s films and his score for Mandy truly helped set the bizarre, trippy & unsettling mood. Next would be the way that Panos Cosmatos used color throughout the film. It’s a beautiful film. Great imagery, combined with an atmospheric score, are often all I need to keep me happy. Oh, speaking of Villeneuve, I suppose I was also reminded a bit of Blade Runner 2049 here with the gorgeous use of color or cinematography or whatever the hell made these movies so lovely (I know nothing about filmmaking – I just know what my eyes like).

Besides a great score & look, the next thing I most care about is great characters. Mandy isn’t quite as strong on that as it is on its look & sound but the actors were all fantastic and made these characters far stronger & more interesting than you normally get in a horror film. The story itself, well, isn’t really all that important anyway. I’m not sure what the hell was going on with the Weird Science demon biker dudes but that doesn’t matter either. They were silly fun. All you need to know is that it’s a revenge film and who doesn’t love a good revenge film? It’s the only time I can stomach violence in a movie: when evil fuckers get what’s coming to them. Is that fucked-up? I’m a wuss with violence but didn’t look away during any of Mandy. That may partly be due to it being cheesy, 80’s sort of gore (the film is set in 1983 so that’s the vibe it’s going for).

Back to the characters: Nicolas Cage is really good in this. Yes. Can you believe it? I’m not really a fan as he’s just too damn cheesy most of the time. I’ll say there were two fellow bloggers who helped convince me to make the journey to see Mandy: Mike at Screenkicker (review HERE) and Greg Moss at Mossfilm (review HERE). I totally agree with what Greg said about it feeling like Cage was reined in on this one. He’s still crazy Nic Cage but it works with this bonkers film and he’s far less nuts than the bad guys. He was perfect for this role & I assume credit has to be given to Cosmatos for Cage not being too over-the-top for once. Even looking like this, he’s not the craziest motherfucker in this thing:

And his thirst for vengeance is completely understandable as we get a good amount of time seeing his character with Mandy and how in love they are. Andrea Riseborough gives a great understated performance as Mandy (someone had to be understated in this thing!). It was a good contrast with the batshit crazy leader of the cult who becomes obsessed with her & tries to make her another one of his followers. Cult leader Jeremiah is played by Linus Roache and he’s probably the most terrifying character I’ve seen in quite a while. Michael Myers has nothing on this twat. (By the way – I’m reviewing the new Halloween movie later today). Jeremiah is completely unhinged and I wanted Nic Cage to kill the absolute fuck out of this bastard:

Whoa. This is the longest “review” I’ve written in ages. It just goes to show that I’m far more interested in a film like this than I am in the same old predictable shit that we normally see. As I said, I’ll be posting my review of Halloween (2018) later today and it’s super short as I have very little to say about it. It’s nothing we haven’t seen in hundreds of other slashers. But Mandy is unique. Most people are likely to hate it if they watch it but they certainly won’t forget it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

To give you a little bit of an idea of the mood of this film, the below King Crimson song (Starless) is played at the beginning. It sets the mood perfectly. Mandy is basically the prog rock of movies: it’s trippy, it’s a little bit pretentious, and only a select few will actually like it (yes, I do like a bit of prog rock when I’m in the mood for that sort of thing…):

Happy Death Day (2017) & The Ritual (2017) Reviews

Finally – here are two review re-posts of two horror movies I watched this year that weren’t truly dreadful. I didn’t love them but they were watchable, unlike most the horror films I saw at home this year…

Happy Death Day (2017)

Directed by Christopher B. Landon

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Happy Death Day follows a college student who is murdered on her birthday and begins reliving the day over and over again; at that point, she sets out to find the killer and stop her death.

My Brief Opinion:

I was really annoyed that I missed this in the cinema last year as it sounded like a fun horror in the slightly-cheesy 80’s slasher style I’ll always have affection for (since I’m old). But the movie was a disappointment, although it’s enjoyable enough for an hour and a half of your time. I just think I won’t remember a thing about it in a few years. The biggest problem was probably that the main character was a hateful bitch, so it was hard to care if she’d ever be able to stop her murder from happening. Yeah, she changes at the end (as to be expected – the whole point is that she needs to be a better person), but… Meh. I think my expectations were just too high. This concept was obviously done so well in Groundhog Day that nothing that’s tried to use that same idea has worked as well. If you want a non-horror teen movie with the same idea, I enjoyed Before I Fall slightly more than this one. And if you want a modern horror comedy with a cheesy 80’s thing going on, The Final Girls was better than this one as well.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Ritual (2017)

Directed by David Bruckner

Based on The Ritual by Adam Nevill

Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.

My Brief Opinion:

Still not sure about this horror film. For the most part, I think I liked it. It was atmospheric and genuinely creepy at times (I rarely find horror movies scary in any way). The conflict between this group of friends due to something that happens at the beginning worked quite well with the story later on of the presence in the forest and the way it brings out hidden resentment. The thing that will make people love this or hate this is the ending. The movie changes and becomes a much different film from the Blair Witch type of beginning and this won’t work for everyone. I didn’t mind the ending but preferred the more mysterious, less in-your-face start to the film.

My Rating: 6/10

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) Blind Spot Review

Tetsuo (aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man) (鉄男 Tetsuo)

Directed & Written by Shinya Tsukamoto

Starring: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.

I did a mini-review of this film recently then remembered it was one of my alternate 2018 Blind Spot choices. I’m way behind on doing those this year & don’t think I’ll manage to watch all 12 films. So this is a re-post of my very short review of Tetsuo.

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

My Opinion On Tetsuo:

I’ve been meaning to watch this Japanese cyberpunk horror film for years as I have a weird fascination with body horror (god knows why – I’m a wuss when it comes to violence). I really wanted to see it before doing the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies but it wouldn’t have made the list anyway. It’s only just over an hour long but it felt like it was never going to end. The last 20 minutes or so just go on & on & on (I decided to fast-forward).

I suppose this movie was shocking in 1989 but we’ve had The Human Freaking Centipede since then, so… is anything really going to gross anyone out in this fucked-up world anymore? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.”

I like weird movies and especially love ones with great imagery but the low budget imagery in this wasn’t good enough to make up for the meandering story and the terrible characters. It’s certainly original and one of the stranger films I’ve seen but I didn’t expect to mostly just find it boring. It’s fucked-up, though. I’ll give it that. It’s one of very few movies I have that I’ll have to keep hidden away – you sure as shit don’t want your kids to ever get hold of this one.

My Rating: 6/10

By the way – SPOILER: the dude’s dick turns into this big metal drill-thing. I’m sure there’s some sort of meaning behind that. Kinky fuckers probably love this film. Watch it if you’re a kinky fucker! (I’m not saying I’m a kinky fucker – I just like to watch weird shit).

Frozen (2010), Dig Two Graves, Cargo & Jug Face Movie Reviews

Here are three reposts of short horror reviews I did and one new review of a truly dreadful film that I watched over the weekend.

Frozen (2010)

Directed & Written by Adam Green

Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Three skiers stranded on a chairlift are forced to make life-or-death choices, which prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.

My Brief Opinion:

Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Dig Two Graves (2014)

Directed by Hunter Adams

Starring: Ted Levine, Samantha Isler, Danny Goldring, Troy Ruptash

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After her brother’s tragic death a young girl meets three men who claim they can bring her brother back to life.

My Brief Opinion:

Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Cargo (2017)

Directed by Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter.

My Brief Opinion:

Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Jug Face (aka The Pit) (2013)

Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle

Starring: Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Sean Young, Daniel Manche, Michael G. Crandall

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a teen (Carter), who is pregnant with her brother’s child and tries to escape from a backwoods community, only to discover that she must sacrifice herself to a creature in a pit.

My Brief Opinion:

Wow. I have a new contender for “worst movie I’ve seen since starting this blog”. I remember a couple of bloggers reviewing this a few years ago & really liking it so I’ve been wanting to see it ever since. I liked the sound of the synopsis and that above poster made it look like it could be interesting. I’ve rated this movie an extra half point for originality since I always complain that nothing feels original anymore and the concept for this film felt fairly unique. Oh, and I liked the “jug faces” that got made – they were cheesy as fuck. In the story, one of these backwoods rednecks makes “jugs” while in a sort of fugue. They end up looking like the face of someone in the community and that person is then sacrificed to “the pit”, which the community believes has healing powers. I don’t know how the hell they knew who was meant to be sacrificed – the jugs never looked like anyone in this stupid movie.


The biggest problem with this movie is the thing that always annoys me the most: every single character is extremely hateful. Well, the guy who makes the jugs is almost okay but the main girl is fucking awful. And her mother! Oh my god! I knew I was probably in for trouble when the only name I recognized in the beginning credits was Sean Young. She plays the mother and she’s waaaaaay too interested in her daughter’s vagina. Yeah, you read that right. So was the brother, as he gets his sister pregnant. The brother was also a complete asshole. I wanted the entire community to be sacrificed to the pit. I thought, after having to endure these dreadful characters, maybe we’d at least get to see some creature in the pit or something. Nope. Nothing. There’s one cheesy looking ghost of a previous sacrifice but that’s it. Nothing scary, no tension, hateful characters, incest, and funny looking jugs. Just watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village if you want to watch a backwards community living in the woods. That’s an absolute masterpiece compared to this. Yes, I’ve decided that this is the worst movie I’ve seen in my six-year blog history.

My Rating: 1.5/10

Goodnight Mommy (2014) & Veronica (2017) Reviews

Two more reposts today of two very brief reviews of a couple of foreign horror films that I watched this year. They were just okay. Certainly not great but I’ve seen much worse (especially this year).

Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

Starring: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize.

My Brief Opinion:

This Austrian horror film was another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like it. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Veronica (2017)

Directed by Paco Plaza

Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero, Ana Torrent, Consuelo Trujillo, Sonia Almarcha, Maru Valduvielso, Leticia Dolera, Ángela Fabián, Samuel Romero, Carla Campra

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

My Brief Opinion:

To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story).

My Rating: 6/10

Annabelle: Creation, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe & It Comes At Night Movie Reviews

Here’s another repost of three super brief “reviews” of three dreadful horror movies I watched this year. I desperately need to see a GOOD horror film. Here’s hoping Mandy lives up to the hype. I’ve booked a ticket to see it this week. Can’t wait!

Annabelle: Creation (2017)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to 2014’s Annabelle and the fourth installment in The Conjuring Universe. The film stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, and Miranda Otto, and depicts the possessed Annabelle doll’s origin.

My Brief Opinion:

Ugh. I trashed the first movie HERE. The first film was ridiculous and couldn’t have been more cliché. At first, it seemed that this one was going to be much better. Oh, hell no! It’s even worse. I think it made me appreciate the first film more, even with all its overused horror tropes. Those things are overused because they sometimes work. This sequel probably could have used a little more of that. I dunno. I think what annoys me with modern horror films such as these, besides the predictability and stupid jump scares and lack of originality or good storytelling, is the filmmakers’ obvious hatred for the characters. The characters are only there to die. So why would I give a shit about what happens? In that case, I’d rather watch silly 80’s slashers which had a sense of fun. We need at least one person to root for/to possibly survive/to not be possessed. I mean, we do have a nice group of young girls I wanted to like but they got so little character development. And a tragic beginning turns a sweet couple into “creepy people who act strange”. It doesn’t end well in this film for people who don’t deserve to suffer (sorry if that’s spoiler-y). And, okay, maybe I don’t like sweet young girls turning into psychotic demons. Well, maybe in a good movie. Actually, I like demonic kids – The Omen is awesome… Never mind. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. This movie just sucked.

Oh, hey – I suppose I can again use this opportunity to link to my post of My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & TV. And, as I reviewed The Nun last week, here are my reviews & ratings of all the Conjuring Universe films:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

My Rating: 4.5/10

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (2016)

Directed by André Øvredal

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Olwen Catherine Kelly

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox as father-and-son coroners who experience supernatural phenomena while examining the body of an unidentified woman (played by Olwen Kelly).

My Brief Opinion:

Why do I bother to watch modern horror movies when 90% of them suck? Like this one. I don’t know if I have the energy to again do horror movie reviews for all of October this year. If I do, I’ll review this piece of shit. For now, I’ll be nice and say that at least this one also had a fairly original concept and going through the stages of the autopsy was kind of interesting.

**Okay – that was my initial review. Damn! I guess I didn’t actually review this. Since seeing this film, I’ve seen far worse (Jug Face – WTF was that?! I’ll review that later this week). So I’m now thinking I was a little harsh on this one. I’ll say that this one did have a fairly creepy atmosphere. I mean, what’s more creepy than a morgue? And it started out fairly promising. As I said, the stages of the autopsy were interesting as they found more & more bizarre things to do with this unidentified girl’s body. Too bad it turned too silly by the end, as most horror movies do.

My Rating: 4.5/10

It Comes At Night (2017)

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Riley Keough

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

My Brief Opinion:

Another 2017 movie that I was wanting to see ASAP due to its rave reviews at the time. WTF?! I was bored out of my damn mind! I’m starting to truly believe that IMDb is being filled with fake reviews written by the studios. This has a 78 out of 100 metascore?! Fuck off! Nothing happens in this but, to be fair, there’s more of a plot than the mumblegore stuff. The performances are good, especially from Joel Edgerton’s son in the movie (Kelvin Harrison Jr). But. But. Ugh. I don’t know. If someone here did like this, I’d genuinely be interested to hear why. Because maybe I’m missing something since, for a horror, it has a decent IMDb user rating as well (6.2). I’m really annoyed with the shitty movies I wasted time on this year. I have too many other things to do.

My Rating: 4.5/10

The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018) & Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018) Reviews

Two more quick October reviews for two current “scary” family films…

The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018) Review

Directed by Eli Roth

Based on The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a creaky old house. He soon learns it was previously also inhabited by a nefarious entity.

My Opinion:

This was an enjoyable family film that unfortunately was slightly ruined by a terrible cinema experience. Why are people such inconsiderate wankers?

Let me see if I can remember what happened in this movie in between all the chatting, the guy shining his phone light to be able to dip his nachos into his supermarket salsa, and the kid’s LED shoes constantly flashing and lighting up the entire cinema. I was excited for another “scary” family film starring Jack Black after really enjoying watching the first Goosebumps movie with my daughter. Well, I still prefer Goosebumps but this was at least a lot better than Goosebumps 2 (review below). I don’t think this quite has the magic of other family fantasy films and the characters aren’t as strong as I’d have liked although all the actors did well in their roles. When compared to things like A Series Of Unfortunate Events (my kid loves that series) or to something like Harry Potter, this story feels a bit forgettable. It was fun, however, and I wonder if the book was a bit more in-depth and if this adaptation didn’t fully do it justice.

Fuck it – I was so distracted that I feel like an ass even attempting to “review” this. It was entertaining and Black & Blanchett worked very well together. Slight spoiler but, basically, the baddie wants to make everyone in the world disappear to which I replied rather loudly “Can he start with this audience??“. This is worth a watch if you like a slightly dark family film. It’s not for the very young but there’s nothing at all unsuitable for ages 6 or so & up.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Directed by Ari Sandel

Based on Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows two young boys accidentally releasing Slappy the Dummy and the Goosebumps monsters in their town, causing a wave of destruction on Halloween night.

My Opinion:

This was a very big disappointment. I liked the first film a lot, even though I was too old to read Goosebumps by the time R.L. Stine wrote those (I did read earlier stuff of his). But that series of books is very much the type of “scary & weird” stuff that I loved as a young kid and I was happy to share that movie with my own kid and to have her briefly get into reading the Goosebumps books. But she’s off those now. Damn! I’ll probably never manage to get her into the original Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV shows that I loved at her age. I was such a weirdo.

The first Goosebumps movie was a great “scary” family film. It was fun and I would imagine that fans loved seeing so many of Stine’s book characters come to life. It had a good story with a great twist for kids (though completely predictable to someone who grew up on The Twilight Zone). The main characters were strong, especially Stine’s daughter, and that relationship was great. The second film is just an inferior copy with weak characters that no one will really care about in the same way. Once again, Stine’s characters are brought to life but on a smaller scale. Slappy is the main star of this one, which is fine as those ventriloquist dummies have always given me the creeps. But so much time is spent on him instead of the character development of the actual humans in the story. Plus, slight spoiler: Jack Black is barely in this film. It’s really not much more than a cameo, which is another huge disappointment if you’re a fan (I am but I know many aren’t). It felt like a TV episode of Goosebumps instead of a movie. Oh well. I’m sure that fans of the books will still get some enjoyment out of it but it feels like a cash grab.

My Rating: 6/10

A Ghost Story, Berlin Syndrome & The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane Movie Reviews

Three more quickie horror reviews. Well, none of them are actually “horror” films. Two thrillers & one pretentious bore…

A Ghost Story (2017)

Directed & Written by David Lowery

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Affleck plays a man who becomes a ghost and remains in the house he shares with his wife (Mara).

My Brief Opinion:

What a load of pretentious twaddle. I was all prepared to like this, too, since I like Rooney Mara for some reason (even though she displays zero emotion in everything I’ve ever seen her in). To be fair, I can appreciate what this story was trying to achieve (does life have meaning or will we all just die and fade away and be forgotten blah blah blah). It’s actually quite a depressing film but do we really need to be reminded that life sucks, especially with the current state of the world?? Here’s my Twitter “tweet review” of this movie: Well. That was tedious. #AGhostStory ✨🏠👫🎹🎧🚗 💢 💀👻🙍🏻‍♀️🥧👩‍👧‍👦👻🍽💢😱🏚🏗🏙👩🏼‍🌾👻💀💀💀🏠👫👻👻📜🕳✨

My Rating: 6/10

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Directed by Cate Shortland

Based on Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells about a young photographer Clare, going to Germany, where she meets an attractive guy Andi. Waking up after a stormy night of passion, Clare realizes that Andi locked her in the apartment and is not going to let her go.

My Brief Opinion:

I actually thought this was a decent psychological thriller. Starring Teresa Palmer & Max Riemelt, this is the IMDb synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’m always interested to see how a character will behave in this sort of situation (Teresa Palmer is the one being kept locked up in the apartment belonging to a stranger she’s slept with while on holiday). It’s strange to see him go about his daily life as normal each day while keeping her imprisoned and to see the “relationship” develop between them (he sees her as his girlfriend, of sorts, in his messed up mind). And she of course depends on him for food, etc, to survive. It’s based on a book so I’d be interested to know more about the characters’ feelings & motivations as I think the movie doesn’t explore this well enough. Maybe I’ll read the novel sometime.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)

Directed by Nicolas Gessner

Based on The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig

Starring: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Mort Shuman, Scott Jacoby

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot focuses on 13-year-old Rynn Jacobs (Foster), a child whose absent poet father and secretive behaviours prod the suspicions of her conservative small-town Maine neighbours.

My Brief Opinion:

I watched this odd 1976 Jodie Foster film partly because I was sick of seeing it in my Netflix Watchlist (it’s been on there for years). I think I was under the impression that it was a straightforward horror but it’s more of a drama that almost feels like a play. Actually, the story would work quite well as a play (maybe it was a play – I’m too lazy to look into it). It drags & I found it a bit underwhelming but the young Foster did a good job as the mysterious 13-year-old who seems to live in a house all on her own.

My Rating: 5.5/10

I far preferred the Jodie Foster film Bugsy Malone, which I watched for the first time last year but never got around to reviewing. Seems to be a bit of a cult classic in the U.K. but barely even known in the U.S.