Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2021

Well, I posted a “Goodbye” post last week but I already had this post 90% written so there was no point keeping it in Drafts. I’ve now negotiated new marital terms & conditions and I might be allowed to watch some movies in July. So, yay, I guess maybe I’ll have some movies for a “July Roundup” post next month & this won’t have to become a cooking blog! Good, because I don’t want to learn how to cook.

So here are the SIXTEEN MOVIES I watched in June. Hope that number is acceptable!

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Gandhi – I finally made myself watch a film that fulfils both my Best Picture Project AND my IMDb Top 250 Challenge! It was between this & Lawrence Of Arabia which I also really need to get around to watching. Gandhi won because, I’ll be totally honest, it’s about half an hour shorter. Well, this film is fantastic & I’m so glad I finally took the time to watch it. In fact, I can now say I have a new “best & favorite film watched in 2021” so I’m happy enough to take a small movie break now since I’ve finally watched a truly great film.

I’m absolutely rubbish when it comes to having, well, pretty much any historical knowledge. So I admittedly knew very little about Gandhi & can’t comment on this film’s accuracy, though what little I’ve read since seems to be what I saw in this movie. But, as a film, it’s excellent and fully deserving of a Best Picture Oscar. Remember when Best Pictures gave us truly epic filmmaking like this?! I miss those days. Let’s see what it beat: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, Tootsie & The Verdict. Well, I’ve only seen Tootsie & E.T., which I love, but I think I can safely say that Gandhi is the clear winner here despite not seeing the other two. Gandhi won eight of its eleven nominations. Richard Attenborough also deservingly won Best Director & Ben Kingsley won for his absolutely brilliant performance as Mahatma Gandhi. It was worth watching just for his performance, as I thought it was truly one of the best performances I’ve ever seen (and I watch a lot of movies – just ask my family!). But, luckily, the movie lived up to its great central performance as well. I feel the actors can sometimes outshine a film & I prefer a really good film to a really good performance. I was very happy to get both in this case.

When it comes to movies like these, I don’t know what else to say. The awards were rightly deserved & I highly recommend it to all film lovers. A great film is a great film. What annoys me is that this film is shockingly not in the IMDb Top 250 anymore. I’m still working off the 2013 Top 250 list and classics such as Gandhi are being replaced by too many current releases now such as the Marvel superhero films. I think IMDb need to re-think how they determine what ends up in the 250! Infinity War is NOT better than Gandhi. Ridiculous! I know it’s just a stupid list but people do look at it & really good old films are now not getting the recognition they still deserve. – 8.5/10

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Not entirely sure why but I really liked this movie. Just like with The Woman In The Window, I read the book in preparation for the film but then the movie took years to come out so I don’t even really remember the book now. Why didn’t this film come out in the U.K. until 2021?! So I re-read my mini-review of the book (HERE) & I was very meh about it. I think, in the film, I could just really relate to Cate Blanchett’s character. Not her genius, of course, because I suck at everything – I mean her social awkwardness & introversion. She’s a good character & I felt for her losing her way & giving up on something she loved. And I had completely forgotten this was a Richard Linklater film (so I may be in trouble for watching this alone as the hubby & I are both fans but I can’t see him liking this). It’s not as good as his best movies but it’s still a decent film – it’s just very unlike his other stuff. Not everyone will go for this but I think those who buy into Blanchett’s quirky character will enjoy it. – 7/10

From Here To Eternity – Another movie watched for my Best Picture Project! I’m on a roll! This was also good but not nearly as good as Gandhi. I of course have wanted to see this for years because of that kiss on the beach scene up there. It’s one of those scenes where, unfortunately, it’s not as romantic as I was expecting. In fact, the guy is sort of a jerk in the scene (but I know this was set during WWII and women were treated differently then – I don’t judge old movies based on modern values). Anyway, that’s now three Deborah Kerr movies I’ve watched this year so I’m on a roll with her too! I preferred the others, Black Narcissus & The Innocents, but she was really good in all of these & I’m amazed I’d seen her in so little before now. Everyone was good in this & I was surprised to see Donna Reed as she’s so linked to It’s A Wonderful Life for me. But I was most surprised to like Frank Sinatra’s character the most as I wasn’t really a fan of him as a person. But his character was a strong one & I thought he was really good in this. It’s a good film & probably worthy of its Best Picture Oscar but it’s not going to be a favorite of mine of all the winners. Here’s what it beat: Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday & Shane. I’ve only seen the latter two but I’d say the three I’ve seen are equally good. – 7/10

Raya And The Last Dragon – Managed to review this in full at the link. I enjoyed this. I’m always excited for a new animated Disney film but this didn’t quite live up to other recent ones such as Moana. Still a fun film, though, and Raya as a character is a good addition to all the other strong female Disney characters. – 7/10

One Cut Of The Dead (カメラを止めるな!, Kamera o Tomeru na!) – This was fun! I found it weirdly…. Wholesome? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.” This is a Japanese horror comedy (or, I guess, a ZomCom) & it’s one where you’re better off not knowing too much before watching it. It also gets better as it goes along so stick with it – I really enjoyed the final act of this movie when it all comes together. The characters were good & I liked the family of three who are involved in the film (especially the mother who goes a little overboard). And it’s not at all “gory” so is worth a watch if you want a lighthearted ZomCom. This was on Film4 in the U.K. but, sadly, I think it has disappeared by now. Sorry! I should review movies while they’re still available to watch. – 7/10

Misbehaviour – I really enjoyed this film based on an interesting true story despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley (her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?!). I’ve already reviewed it in full so here’s the very basic IMDb synopsis: “A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.” Recommended if you want to watch some women try to bring down the patriarchy & all that. – 7/10

Timecop – This is now the second Jean-Claude Van Damme film I’ve ever watched after seeing Bloodsport a couple of months ago. Goddamn, that movie was FUN! I liked it so much I gave it a full-length review HERE. It was cheesy & cliché & just the right amount of ridiculous to make it into that “so bad it’s good” category (like my beloved Road House!). Timecop, unfortunately, was not nearly as much fun but I did still quite enjoy it and also give it a full review at the link. I’m totally going to watch more Van Damme movies because I want to see how many different ways he can do those sexy splits. – 6.5/10

Shoplifters Of The World – I reviewed this as well. I liked the idea behind it but the way they shoved The Smiths & quotes from their songs very awkwardly into this story as much as possible sadly felt too forced. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia: “Set in Denver, four friends reel from the sudden break up of The Smiths, while the local radio station is held at gunpoint by a fan, forcing a disgruntled heavy metal DJ to play The Smiths all night.” Yeah, that’s a great idea and could’ve been a great movie if done right. I still enjoyed it, though, and liked hearing all The Smiths songs in it. But for a movie that better incorporated a band’s music into an interesting story, I far preferred Yesterday with all of The Beatles music. – 6.5/10

Kajillionaire – As I said recently in my Butt Boy review, I like weird movies. This is mainly because I watch so many films that it’s nice to see ones that aren’t so predictable for a change. But the weird movies are rarely good movies & some are just plain bad. I’m not sure how I feel about this weird one about a family of three who try to get through life by engaging in small crimes. It’s not bad but I found it a bit of a chore to sit through and it wasn’t weird enough to keep me truly interested. Evan Rachel Wood was interesting as the very awkward daughter & I liked her relationship with Gina Rodriguez who befriends her & joins the family in their petty crimes. They were fun but the parents were hateful. It’s an awkward film and the tone was all over the place. It’s a hard one to describe. I did enjoy watching something so different & unpredictable, though. Glad I watched it but I wouldn’t watch it again. – 6.5/10

Poms – I liked this! It was a bit dumb but fun. I’ve noticed I’m liking movies about old women more & more lately and I realised it’s probably because I’m getting soooo old & that’s depressing. But I’ve loved The Golden Girls since a young age so maybe I just like fun female friendships. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Poms is a 2019 American comedy film directed by Zara Hayes, starring Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Alisha Boe, Phyllis Somerville, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, and Rhea Perlman. The film follows a group of women from a retirement community who decide to start a cheerleading squad.” As you can see it has an impressive cast & I especially enjoyed the friendship between Diane Keaton & Jacki Weaver. The movie is a bit silly & slightly far-fetched at times but it’s a nice story about friendship & living your life. – 6.5/10

When A Stranger Calls – I’d been wanting to see this 1979 horror classic for years! “Have you checked the children?” Such a famous line & I think every teen in the ’80s knew where those calls were coming from even if we hadn’t seen this movie. And, yeah, the beginning of this movie is GREAT. The beginning, as a short story on its own, is a classic. I have a feeling that the beginning bit is all that anyone truly remembers because, man, this one falls apart in the middle. It kind of completely goes in a different direction & we don’t see Carol Kane again until the very end when it finally picks up slightly again. So I’m glad I finally watched this but it felt like I’d already seen it since I knew all about the beginning. Didn’t realize there would be so little of that good stuff & then the rest of the movie would drag. But I’m still giving it an extra half a point for having such a well known & often spoofed beginning. – 6.5/10

Saint Maud – Watched this British psychological horror as so many went on about it but it’s one of those films being raved over for the performance. And I agree that Morfydd Clark was very good so this was worth watching for that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The story follows hospice nurse Maud (portrayed by Morfydd Clark), a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, who becomes obsessed with a former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle), believing she must save her soul.” The movie is fine but does drag a bit. I did like the slowly building tension, though, and thought the ending was good. Not one I’d watch again but am glad I checked out. I recommend it only if you like the more serious type of horrors with good acting. Oh! And was I going crazy or did her face do a weird Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video thing a couple of times when she was having one of her God orgasms?? That was kind of freaky fun. – 6.5/10

Martha Marcy May Marlene – This was okay but not really my sort of thing. I think I put it on as I’m always a little fascinated by cults. As in, I don’t understand how people end up in them. I barely like people as it is so why would I want to live with a bunch of weirdos and have to farm & cook & clean for the rapey men?? I wouldn’t say this film is a good exploration of cults & the thinking involved as you really get NO backstory on how Elizabeth Olsen’s character ended up in this cult or why she chose to stay or even why she chose to leave. I guess it’s a character study film & is more about the performances, which were fine. I suppose it’s a hard topic to explore, though, as I think it’s quite a hard thing for most people to understand. Well, as I said the performances were fine & Elizabeth Olsen gets naked a lot if you want to see that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The plot focuses on a young woman suffering from delusions and paranoia after returning to her family from an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains.” – 6.5/10

Luca – This movie was very sweet & the characters were likeable and I don’t feel right saying anything bad about it as it was so wholesome. But I mostly just found it boring. Unfortunately, it’s just not up to Pixar standards (but those standards are very high). – 6/10

Antebellum – This was… Okay? I really like Janelle Monáe & she was the main reason I watched this so I wish it had been a better film for her. I think the idea for the story was good enough but the execution was pretty terrible. And Jena Malone was awful – I seem to always really dislike her acting (especially after she screwed the dead person in that stupid The Neon Demon pile of shit). I think her performance, as well as that of all the one-dimensional “baddies”, really hurt this movie. But more than anything, I think the big twist being SUCH a huge rip-off of a well known director’s movie really didn’t help (don’t want to name the director but you’ll know exactly what movie I mean if you watch this). It just made me think of how well the other director pulled off that twist & that it was a much better film than this one. Disappointing. – 6/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous

Concert Film:

Stop Making Sense – I don’t really know what to say about a concert film. Weirdly, as a huge lover of movies as well as music, I for some reason never really watch any concerts. But I love the Talking Heads and this has had such great reviews that I decided to check it out since it’s now on Amazon Prime U.K. Yep – it’s great! David Byrne especially is so damn talented & I’ll always love that brilliant voice of his. It’s fantastic how it starts out so stripped down with only Byrne onstage then continues to build & build. I loved it but, hey, you have to love the band to love the concert, right? I’d definitely recommend this but only to Talking Heads fans or to those who maybe don’t know their stuff but want to check it out (makes me sad to type that but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m super old & some readers may not have even heard of the Talking Heads). Hey, my preteen loves them! Especially Psycho Killer. Hmm. Does that make me a good or a bad parent?! (I think it makes me cool). 🙂 – 8/10

Shorts:

Us Again – Enjoyed this lovely short on Disney Plus (which I think was meant to be the one before Raya And The Last Dragon?). Could very much relate to the feeling of being old & not living life to its fullest. Also a nice love story in this one. Very sweet.

Launchpad Shorts On Disney Plus:

Watched this new series on Disney Plus as well. All good & worth a quick watch. I won’t go into the details of each but I’ll rank them starting with my favorite. The two kids were so cute in The Little Prince(ss)…

The Little Prince(ss)
American Eid
The Last of the Chupacabras
Growing Fangs
Let’s Be Tigers
Dinner Is Served

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

BOOKS READ

The Running Man by Stephen King – Finally finished re-reading The Bachman Books collection. The Long Walk is still easily my favorite, Rage is okay, and Roadwork is a bit crap. The Running Man is my second favorite of the four. I think it’s a good story & am looking forward to the new film adaptation from Edgar Wright (if that’s still happening??). But I did also really like the Schwarzenegger film which, if I remember, was nothing whatsoever like the book anyway?! Need to rewatch that now to refresh my memory of that too. What can I say? I like dystopian future stories and I liked this world where people have to “play for their lives” on game shows. I didn’t find this story very far-fetched when I first read it over 20 years ago & I find it even more plausible now. The ending is maybe a little silly but, whatever – it’s Stephen King! Who cares. I’m a fan. I feel like I’ve read only Stephen King books in 2021, though. Hmm. Oh well – libraries have been closed thanks to the pandemic & I mainly only buy King’s stuff these days so it’s pretty much all I have to read in the house. 🙂 – 3.5/5

Later by Stephen King – Stephen King again! This is the third of his in this Hard Case Crime series & I’ve enjoyed them all. They’re much shorter & “lighter” reads than his huge horror tomes. This is probably my least favorite of the three, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s about a kid who sees dead people (yeah, kind of like in The Sixth Sense but not really & they do reference that film in this). It’s a solid ghost story with a likeable kid. It’s possibly a little forgettable but it’s a quick & fun read. My favorite in this series is still Joyland, which I loved, and second is The Colorado Kid which felt very different from King’s “horror” stories. Maybe I should check out some of the many non-King books in this series?? – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Keeping what I say very short!!

Loki: S1 E1-4 – Enjoying this!! Liking it FAR more than The Falcon & The Winter Soldier but still prefer WandaVision.

Children Of The Stones: S1 E4 – Still liking this & wish the hubby would make the time to finish it with me!!! I reviewed what I’ve seen so far HERE if you’re wondering what the heck this is.

My Name Is Earl: S2 E5-9 – Still funny!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E10-13 – Still annoying!

The Masked Dancer U.K. – This was a bit stupid & I can’t for the life of me remember who won.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Need to watch fewer movies (not my choice!) but plan to be back in August with a post of what I watched in July.

I always end with music I liked in a movie I watched. Screw The Smiths – I have to go with something from Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense! BUT, I just have to go with this Kermit The Frog version of one of my all-time favorite songs: Once In A Lifetime…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2021

Happy May! I watched way too many movies in April. I actually managed to review some, too! I’ll post the links to those & discuss the rest below. Here’s a quick list of everything I watched & read:

Promising Young Woman, Spontaneous, Swallow, Bloodsport, Battleship Potemkin, The Innocents (1961), Audition, Sound Of Metal, Cat People, House On Haunted Hill, Love And Monsters, Splinter, Palm Springs, Bad Girls, The Fundamentals Of Caring, Run, Teen Spirit, The House Of Tomorrow, Thunder Force, My Octopus Teacher, Pick Of The Litter, Tell Me Who I Am, The Sound Of Music, Cast Away, The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, An American Tail, Gregory’s Girl, Happy Gilmore, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Two Distant Strangers, Dollar Babies Stephen King Shorts & the book Roadwork by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Promising Young Woman – I managed to review this in time for the Oscars. I really liked this one. Full review in the link. – 8/10

Spontaneous – Also reviewed in the link. I loved this movie! Darkly funny & deeply upsetting with great performances from its two leads. – 8/10

Swallow – Another one I reviewed. It’s very disturbing but also a very beautiful looking film. I liked this one quite a lot but would be reluctant to recommend it (it’s about a woman who swallows dangerous objects). Along with the two above this, I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched this year. Full review in the title link and one more image below to show the look of this movie. – 8/10

Bloodsport – Reviewed this as well because I had so much fun watching it and seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme doing painful looking splits through the whole thing. It’s a terrible movie but I tried to explain in my review why I’ve ranked it above things such as the next two movies, which are classics & obviously much better films. But this one was more fun! Here’s a picture of him doing those splits… – 7.5/10

Battleship Potemkin – Watched this for my IMDb Top 250 Project. Think I’d been avoiding this as I thought it was a war movie but was intrigued when I realised it was a silent film from 1925. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel’s officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Mutiny! I like a good mutiny! I’m so glad I gave this a go. It’s a fantastic film. It’s one of those old films that’s just as relevant today. It has police brutality & people fighting back against unfair treatment. It’s surprisingly brutal for the time and a powerful film. It also has the above scene which I assume inspired a similar scene in The Untouchables (another brilliant film). I recommend this one, which is still on U.K. Prime. It’s also very short, not that it should matter, but it was easy to squeeze in a 75 minute film. I should also point out that the movie is based on the real Potemkin battleship. According to Wikipedia (if you want to read more about it): “The Russian battleship Potemkin became famous when the crew rebelled against the officers in June 1905 (during that year’s revolution), which is now viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.” – 7.5/10

The Innocents (1961) – I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus). I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know). – 7.5/10

Sound Of Metal – Also reviewed this in full at the link. Good film & performances. – 7/10

Cat People – I’m loving all the classics on BBC iPlayer, especially old classic horror like this & the one below as I shamefully haven’t explored pre-1970 horror much (besides Alfred Hitchcock). This is a great story & I suppose a bit saucy for its time (1942). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.” I did actually see the 1982 Cat People with Nastassja Kinski years ago but don’t remember a thing now other than I think it was a lot more “sexy” (obviously). Anyway, the girl in this is great (actress Simone Simon playing Serbian immigrant Irena) and I enjoyed the story and there was some cool creepy stuff going on with a panther stalking people (IS it a panther or is it actually Irena? Hmm!). Guess I should watch the sequel, The Curse Of The Cat People, sometime soon. – 7/10

House On Haunted Hill – I have another shameful confession to make: I’m not sure if I’ve seen an old Vincent Price movie before? I may have many years ago but too long ago to remember now. Which is odd, as I loved scary & creepy stories from a young age (my two favorite TV shows as a kid were the Alfred Hitchcock TV show & The Twilight Zone). But I missed out on these sort of films on TV as a kid, I guess. Being my age, Vincent Price to me is the cool voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller & the awesome inventor in Edward Scissorhands (adore that film). Anyway, to show my age even more, the main reason I’ve wanted to see this for years is because I knew it was the movie the horror-loving character in my favorite Amazing Stories episode was playing on his TV. That was called Go To The Head Of The Class, FYI, and it RULES. It’s a short horror comedy starring Christopher Lloyd & Mary Stuart Masterson (I reviewed it very briefly HERE). I always assumed I’d had the ending of this movie ruined for me but it turned out the scene they used in Amazing Stories wasn’t the ending (phew). It’s a fun story with a lot of twists and back stabbing and you don’t know who can be trusted & what’s going on. Good stuff. I’d happily take recommendations of other old horrors to watch (I’ve always been curious about Hammer Horror films as well…). – 7/10

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) – Well, this was fucked up. To be fair, I knew it was going to be fucked up (it’s why I’ve wanted to see it for years). So I grabbed the DVD a few months ago when I saw it very cheap. I’d say it didn’t quite live up to the hype after all this time but I suppose there’s been more “extreme” stuff since this one (I was surprised it’s a 1999 film as I thought it was a bit more recent). I mean, we’ve since had films like Oldboy which was much more shocking. I absolutely hated Oldboy, by the way – it took things way too far and I found it disgusting but I do realise that it was made for shock value. I wanted to see Audition as I love foreign films & especially love Japanese films and I always like a good horror.

I’d say the movie starts out quite well as we watch this widower go about living his life with his likeable teenage son until a friend of his has the idea to set up a fake movie audition so the widower can interview a bunch of unsuspecting young women to see if any could be a potential new wife. Of course they’re all half his age. I’m always uncomfortable with hints of sexual abuse involving children in movies and wasn’t surprised to find that be a part of this as there needs to be some sort of explanation for a woman ending up being a complete psycho in a film. But does there? Does that always have to be the damn reason? Can we not just be CRAZY for no good reason, dammit?!

Anyway. It’s a good movie & I can see why extreme horror lovers like it as, even though it starts out as a pretty straightforward film, it goes batshit crazy at the end. I do like movies that have a sudden shift like that. But I didn’t like the development of the woman’s character in this. Well, I didn’t feel her character was very developed at all. Why is she doing this, besides the sexual abuse she endured which the movie happily hinted at? For some reason I’d heard this was a feminist film but I’d say it’s the opposite? Plus, the main guy isn’t a bad guy – he’s just lonely since his wife’s death and it was his friend’s idea to set up the fake audition anyway. And god I was SO worried about their adorable dog the whole time.

This review is all over the place… I’m not really sure how I felt. As I said, I think it’s a good film (as in well made) so I’m giving it a decent rating. I did really like elements of it but was disappointed overall as it’s not as good as the hype made it out to be. I’ve not seen any other Takashi Miike films but would possibly watch another based on this. First Love is on Sky & I’m curious about that one. Anyone seen it? – 7/10

Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog below! – 7/10

Splinter – Was recommended this one (thanks, Film Miasma!). Didn’t really know anything about it but think I may have avoided it at the time as the poster looked so nasty and I’m a wuss with really gross stuff. Well, it is pretty gross to be fair. But it’s kind of borderline body horror gross in that sort of fake-looking way that I like from old Cronenberg movies so I was fine with this. The characters are also strong, which is important to me (especially as horror movie characters are so often rubbish & hateful). We even have a baddie who ends up not being such a baddie after all & I liked that. And the girl is pretty kick ass. It’s also mostly set in one place while they’re trapped in a gas station by this weird, um, parasite thing and I’m always impressed with movies that manage to stay interesting in pretty much just one location. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re interested: “Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.” – 6.5/10

Bad Girls – How did I never see a Drew Barrymore movie?! I watch all her movies! We grew up together. She’s my buddy! Mary Stuart Masterson is in this as well & I love her too so I immediately watched this when it showed up on Disney Star. I’m being very kind with my rating as this movie admittedly isn’t the greatest. But I liked having four female lead characters trying to escape evil men in the Old West. Drew is the sexy one & Madeline Stowe is the badass smart one & Andie MacDowell is the girly one and Mary Stuart Masterson is the nice one. And there are two nice guys but the rest are a bunch of rapists and of course the four women were all prostitutes since that’s all women were allowed to be in the Old West (according to movies, anyway – I don’t know if that’s true?!). Anyway, it’s a fun but dumb movie and of course a bit dated now. I wasn’t that thrilled at the ending (not the very end but just before that). I wanted them to get more revenge. – 6.5/10

Palm Springs – This is one of those movies that all of Film Twitter was going on about & saying it was one of the best films of 2020 & I was just completely underwhelmed when I finally saw it. It’s good but I’ve certainly seen better. It’s yet another take on the Groundhog Day idea of living the same day over & over again. Which is fine as, actually, some of the movies using this idea have been quite good. Edge Of Tomorrow is great. Another movie, called The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, just came out this year & was far more enjoyable than Palm Springs (in my opinion). Hell, I think I even enjoyed Before I Fall more and that was pretty cheesy. Then of course there’s Happy Death Day & its sequel which are fun but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (my hubby hated those). Palm Springs is probably a bit better than those two but I just found the two lead characters stuck in this “same day” to be too self-absorbed & unlikeable. I didn’t really give a shit if they would ever escape their predicament as I didn’t care about them. The best thing about the movie was J.K. Simmons & I ended up caring much more about his character. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too picky lately. The movie is fun and still manages to have (yet another) fairly unique twist on this same idea. Watch it if you like Andy Samberg, I guess (maybe I don’t). – 6.5/10

The Fundamentals Of Caring – This was fine. One of those fun “buddy” road trip movies that’s perfectly pleasant to watch but you’ll probably forget all about it in a year. Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd, though? He’s adorable. He’s hired to be the caregiver for the character played by Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez joins them on their journey to go see a big cow. Or something like that. See? I’ve already forgotten. – 6.5/10

Run – This one was “fine” as well. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should move it up a couple places as I probably enjoyed it more than the previous two movies but, nah, I’m too lazy and it doesn’t deserve it anyway. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10

Teen Spirit – This was boring. It looked like a fun “teen talent search” movie so I watched it with my daughter but we ended up barely paying attention. Elle Fanning was fine but seemed very miscast. The director is Max Minghella so it’s probably hard to try to live up to his father Anthony Minghella’s reputation (I preferred Teen Spirit to that boring ass The English Patient movie, though! Hahaha!). This had some fun pop songs in it, at least. But, like, worse versions of those songs since they were sung by worse singers. It had a Grimes song too (sung by Grimes)! It’s funny – I absolutely loved two songs by Grimes on her 2012 album (the songs Oblivion and Genesis, which I wrote about HERE). Now they’re suddenly sticking those two songs in teen movies all the time lately since her weird Elon Musk relationship. Well, it’s one of those two songs again but I can’t remember which one. Also, I know this movie is set in the U.K. (well, Isle Of Wight to be precise) and I know we have no sun in the U.K. but, holy shit, why was this movie so dark?! Couldn’t see a damn thing! Whatever. This movie wasn’t bad just meh. Have to say I far preferred a quirky little film I saw recently starring Max Minghella (Elvis And Anabelle with Blake Lively). – 6/10

The House Of Tomorrow – This was even more boring. Don’t know why exactly, as it had some pretty big names & talent in it. I, again, just didn’t care all that much for the characters and the friend the main boy makes plus his sister are kind of assholes. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis that talked me into watching this because it sounded really cool: “The film tells futurist, architect, and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller’s incredible story through two teens hoping to get laid, become punk gods, and survive high school.” I wanted way more punk music than we got in this movie. – 6/10

Thunder Force – Yeah… This was bad. Really bad. But I expected it to be bad, so, there you go. I dunno. I got a couple laughs out of this as there were some jokes totally aimed at ’80s kids (like, totally). No young people will have laughed at those jokes, I guess. And I kind of liked Jason Bateman having, um, crab arms for whatever reason I missed since I wasn’t paying much attention. Crab arms. Why?! Who knows! – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Documentaries:

My Octopus Teacher – Reviewed in full at the link. I loved this little octopus! – 7.5/10

Pick Of The Litter – This is a documentary following a litter of five puppies as they grow up and are trained to become guide dogs. This was fascinating as I’ve often wondered how they go about training dogs for such an important job. I didn’t realise that quite a few don’t actually pass the tests to become guide dogs. Watched this with my daughter & we loved it. We were really rooting for each of the dogs to pass all the tests! You get to know each of the dogs & their personalities so that was great. And it was so heartwarming when they decided what to do with one of the dogs who failed (I just about cried! I never do that). Plus, of course, these dogs were adorable and I was totally in love with all of them. Gotta add one more picture of one of these cuties! – 7/10

Tell Me Who I Am – Not gonna lie, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries and would rather just watch a film instead. I especially struggle to watch depressing documentaries: Watching cute puppies is more my speed. But I was intrigued by this IMDb synopsis: “After losing his memory in an accident, Alex Lewis trusts his twin brother, Marcus, to tell him about his past only to discover that he’s hiding a dark secret about their childhood.” Well, it wasn’t going to be a nice secret, was it, or else he wouldn’t have kept it from his brother for years. And it IS horrible and it’s a hard watch. The most interesting thing to me was wondering whether the brother who knew the truth did the right thing or not to keep it hidden. I honestly don’t know. I can see why he did it, but… I don’t know. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do. A very difficult situation for everyone involved. – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Saw loads of short films in April. First, I did very brief reviews of these three as they were nominated for Oscars:

The Present
A Love Song for Latasha
Two Distant Strangers

Stephen King Shorts:

Then there was a great online film festival in April put on by Barker Street Cinema (Twitter account HERE). Over three nights, they aired loads of Stephen King short films, called the “Dollar Babies”. These are the short stories Stephen King lets students and aspiring filmmakers have the rights to for just one dollar. I think that’s such a great idea and it was cool seeing a bunch of adaptations as I absolutely love King’s short stories. I’m just heartbroken they could only be aired that one time & they were on American time so I only caught the first ones each night as I couldn’t stay up all night long. I did manage to watch those listed below. They were all good (but you know I love ranking things so I’ve at least ranked them even though I’ve not reviewed them). My favorite was Red Clark’s Gray Matter from 2017. And I loved seeing the oldest Dollar Baby, The Last Rung On The Ladder from 1987, as that’s an all-time favorite King story of mine (and not a horror, just a sad story). You can read the tweets about each short film on the Stephen King Rules Twitter account HERE. (Oh, and I ranked all the King books I’ve read HERE if you’re interested.)

The Dollar Baby Shorts I Saw:

Gray Matter
The Last Rung On The Ladder
The Doctor’s Case
Dedication
The Boogeyman
L.T.’s Theory Of Pets
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away
My Pretty Pony
One For The Road
Paranoid

And finally, thanks to Emma at emmakwall (explains it all) for posting about this freaky short on YouTube called Curve (the image I posted at the top of this Shorts section). It’s about a woman who wakes up on a slippery curved wall over a black hole we can’t see the bottom of & it’s scary as hell. You can watch it HERE.

Movies Rewatched In April:

The Sound Of Music – Rewatched this with the kid one lazy weekend afternoon as we both love this film. What can I say about it? I think this movie is perfection & easily my favorite musical along with The Wizard Of Oz. LOVE IT. – 10/10

Cast Away – Enjoyed rewatching this as I’d not seen it since going to it when it was released in 2000. I actually liked it even more this time around. Think I could identify more with Tom Hanks & his relationship with Helen Hunt now that I’m 20 years older. Could really feel the heartbreak at the end. – 7.5/10

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – This is a 2021 film that I really liked. I wouldn’t normally rewatch something so soon but I rewatched it with my daughter as I thought she’d really like it too (she did). I think this is quite a good movie & a better twist on the “Groundhog Day” idea than Palm Springs was as the characters were far more likeable in this one. My full review is in the link. – 7.5/10

An American Tail – Hadn’t seen this in years but remember thinking that Fievel was adorable and have always loved the Somewhere Out There song (the version sung by the cute mice, not the boring radio version by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram). Nothing has changed. Fievel is still adorable & I still love that song. And now my daughter does too. The movie is good but it’s those two things that really stand out. Here he is singing it below – He’s so cute! – 7/10

Gregory’s Girl – This is a fun Scottish teen movie from 1980. Yeah, it’s very Scottish so you might struggle with the accents if you’re American (I did okay, though!). Obviously, it’s not one I grew up with as I only saw it after moving to the U.K. but I know it’s one that British people have fond memories of. It probably helps that it starts out with naked breasts. Besides that start, though, it’s actually quite a sweet movie about a boy with a crush. I’ll also point out that Clare Grogan from the band Altered Images is in this (I’ve always liked the Happy Birthday song & I Could Be Happy). Oh, and the director (Bill Forsyth) also did the very enjoyable Scottish film Local Hero that I could really do with rewatching as well. – 7/10

Happy Gilmore – I’ve said it plenty on this blog: I have no problem with Adam Sandler. I know it’s “uncool” to like him but I really like several of his movies (and admit that plenty do suck, yes). This one is okay – it’s somewhere in the middle of all those I’ve seen (I ranked his movies in that link). It’s not brilliant like The Wedding Singer but it’s got some funny moments. And Carl Weathers is in it! So that’s cool. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

BOOKS READ

Roadwork by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) – I’m re-reading the four stories in the original The Bachman Books as it’s been over 20 years since I read them. I remembered loving The Long Walk & liking The Running Man a lot but didn’t remember a thing about the other two. Well, I reviewed The Long Walk & Rage HERE last month.

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I’ve not been eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it’s taken me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Children Of The Stones: Episodes 1-3 – This is a 1977 British TV mini-series available on YouTube. It’s about a small town with a mysterious stone circle which may be making the town’s residents a little crazy. Or something like that. I don’t know – I’ve only watched 3 of the 7 episodes so far but something weird is going on & I love weird. The people living in the town are acting like The Stepford Children at the moment and a father & son new to the town are wondering what the hell is going on. Strange race of people! No one knows who they were or what they were doing! And there’s this eerie painting of people dancing around the stones & great creepy-ass singing & chanting going on in the episodes. I’m enjoying it so far as this is SO my kind of thing. I love the supernatural & stuff like The Wicker Man & Stonehenge (which I made my hubby take me to a few times after moving to the U.K.). That might be partly to do with loving the Spinal Tap Stonehenge song too… (Oh, I’m totally going to add that song to the end of this post!).

If this sounds like your kind of thing too, it’s worth checking it out on YouTube. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia page about it to maybe further convince you: “The series is today considered a landmark in quality children’s drama and has been called “the scariest programme ever made for children”. The series follows the adventures of astrophysicist Adam Brake and his teenage son Matthew after they arrive in the small village of Milbury, which is built in the midst of a megalithic stone circle.

It’s a real place, too (Avebury, Wiltshire). So I might have to go check it out & pretend I’m living in ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history

My Name Is Earl: S1 Episodes 1-13 – Finished watching all of Raising Hope on Disney Plus, which the kid loved, so talked her into watching My Name Is Earl next as it’s from the same guy. She’s loving this too. I was a big fan when it was on but, for whatever reason, missed the last season or so. I’m really enjoying rewatching this as I think it’s a really funny show (and Randy cracks me up). The humor is a little iffy so I’m not sure how this & Raising Hope haven’t been “cancelled” yet. So we better binge these while we can!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 Episodes 1-5 – They FINALLY started showing the latest season here in April. God I hate myself for watching this show but I can’t stop now after spending 17 years on it!!! This season is about f*^king Covid. Thanks for the escapism, Grey’s Anatomy!!! Sheesh.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: S1 Episode 4 – I’m sorry, I can’t get into this show at all. I’m not a huge Marvel fan but like everything well enough & have watched all the MCU films. But, after WandaVision being so fun & different, this show is a big disappointment. Also, I don’t remember now but I THINK episode 4 was the one that ended so violently?? Like, wow – that was very violent for something available to kids on Disney Plus. Well, I’ll watch the final two episodes eventually but it’s obvious I’m in no hurry. Always watched WandaVision ASAP…

Dinosaurs: The kid is watching this on Disney Plus. I tried to watch a couple of episodes. I wasn’t into the show back in the ’90s & I can see why. As my hubby pointed out, you’re better off watching short clips of the show’s funniest bits. It’s why the kid wanted to watch this, as she liked clips of the baby. Full episodes feel very long…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, I watched too much in April & it took forever to do this post & now I’m stressed out. I’ll slow down on the movie-watching (a little!) as I suppose I need to start mentally & physically preparing myself to re-join society in a month or two (do I have to?!). But I’m not off to a good start as I’ve already watched 6 movies in the first 3 days of May. Oops. Well, this is what I’ve watched if you’re interested. Maybe I should try to post full reviews of some of these through the month…

The Invisible Man (2020) – 7.5/10
The Hunt (2020) – 7.5/10
Happiest Season – 7/10
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10
Good Boys – 6.5/10

The Crow – 9/10 (Rewatched this for the first time in years & I still love it).

And now I’ll end this post with Stonehenge by Spinal Tap since I keep thinking of it while watching Children Of The Stones.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2021

Happy April! Hope everyone had a nice Easter. Here’s my monthly roundup of all I watched & read in March. As there was so much, here’s a list of everything I’m reviewing. So you can decide now if you can be bothered to scroll through all my blathering below… 🙂

Moxie, Elvis And Anabelle, Papillon, Annie Hall, Mank, Toys, Skate Kitchen, His House, Flipped, Coming 2 America, She Dies Tomorrow, Yes Day, The Hustle, Unfriended, Edge Of Tomorrow, Big Hero 6, Krush Groove, Can’t Buy Me Love, Deadpool 2, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dodgeball, WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Ted Lasso, Battlestar Galactica, Raising Hope, The Crown, The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us, The Long Walk & Rage by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):

Moxie – Really enjoyed this one. I’ll always like YA movies and I’ll always like “fighting back against an unfair system” movies. In this one, the girls in an American high school fight back against sexism. The main girl is inspired by her mom’s “Riot grrrl” past & by a new outspoken girl at her school who doesn’t take any shit from the main sexist jock. She starts an anonymous ‘zine she calls Moxie after getting the idea when finding old zines from her mother’s past. Several girls who’ve had enough with the sexism soon join together & start trying to make a difference.

It’s sad to know American high schools are still like this? I remember being in high school in the late ’80s/early ’90s and the jocks in my school were exactly like the main prick in this movie. I also liked how the movie pointed out the way in which male athletes are rewarded and how female sports are completely ignored. Not that I give a shit about that as I hate sports & sucked at them all but I never understood the complete obsession with stupid male teen high school sports in small town America?! And the fact that no one ever gave a shit about the girls sports and, in my school’s case, the girls’ basketball team was far more successful than any other teams.

Obviously, I’m old now (more the age of the director & the mom in this movie, Amy Poehler). So I could relate to her but also to the daughter taking inspiration from her mother’s cool Gen X past. Let’s hear it for Gen X! I’m liking this Gen X & Gen Z (or is it Gen A??) thing. Same as with Cobra Kai – that show was loads of fun and the interactions between the two generations were great.

I think I enjoyed this movie more than I want to admit. I want to give it a slightly higher rating but think I’d not be taken seriously as a movie blogger or some shit. (As if anyone takes me seriously?!). But I still have more affection for stuff from my own generation and this reminded me again just how much I adore the film Pump Up The Volume. Watch that if you liked Moxie! This also gave me Whip It vibes. Love that too! Honestly, I just think I’ll never grow up and will always secretly want to be a riot grrrl/roller derby/pirate radio DJ chick sticking it to the man. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

Elvis And Anabelle – I have to thank Claire from Cinematic Delights for mentioning this one as I’d never even heard of it so would likely have never noticed it on Amazon Prime. Wonder why it’s not more well known? I always like an offbeat romance & this weird IMDb plot synopsis appealed to me: “Dying after being crowned Miss Texas Rose, Anabelle comes alive just before Elvis embalms her. He does his ailing dad’s work. Anabelle later returns to the embalmer’s farm to get away from her mom and be happy.” Macabre! I like that. It’s not creepy or anything, though. Blake Lively is lovely as always (she’s so pretty I want to barf – hubby thinks I have a girl crush on her but Drew Barrymore is my true love) and has a decent chemistry with Max Minghella in that “two lost souls finding each other” kind of way that only happens in movies. Joe Mantegna plays his father and he’s really sweet & likeable and it’s one of those movies where you just want everyone to be happy. It’s not overly soppy, though, which is great because I hate that. Have to say I really liked the ending as well. It was quite beautiful but not in a contrived sort of way. Very nice. A romance film done right. Hey, I have one to recommend if you like offbeat romances: Untamed Heart with Christian Slater. Ohh I love that one! Need to rewatch that. – 7/10

Papillon – I watched this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge. As with many from the 2013 list I’m working from, this one is no longer in the Top 250. I’m not normally a fan of prison movies but some, such as The Shawshank Redemption & Escape From Alcatraz, are great. This one reminded me more of Midnight Express in that it’s GRIM but unfortunately doesn’t have an awesome Giorgio Moroder score like that one does.

I just didn’t connect with these characters. I don’t know if I missed something but… Why were they all in prison? Was Steve McQueen’s Papillon character (Henri Charrière) falsely accused? (Yes, apparently so – I just looked it up and it’s based on Charrière’s autobiography). The character development just wasn’t as good as in similar films, making it even harder to sit through the dreary realities of the horrible times Charrière & his fellow inmates had to endure in prison. McQueen & Dustin Hoffman were both very good, though, and had a good friendship along with another character I really liked named André Maturette. Together they formed an escape plot and I thought the final 20 minutes or so were very good. I’d say it’s one of those movies where you feel like you’ve gone on this terrible journey right along with the characters. I felt a bit drained by the end. It’s definitely a good film but it’s depressing and just didn’t work as well for me as the other prison films I mentioned. – 7/10

Annie Hall – I watched this one as part of both my IMDb Top 250 Challenge & Best Picture Project. Was hoping to like it despite really not liking Woody Allen. I’ve not seen enough of his movies to really judge what I think of his work yet, though (I’ve now seen three). I liked Midnight In Paris okay. I watched Manhattan a while ago as it’s also in the Top 250 and I definitely enjoyed Annie Hall more, especially as he’s not sleeping with a 17-year-old in this one. I won’t get into Allen’s life, though, as I needed to watch this for these projects so will just discuss the movie.

Diane Keaton is delightful in this but I’ve always kind of liked Keaton and her ugly trousers. Not sure if Allen’s whole neurotic humor thing works for me. Okay, I’m lying – it kind of does as I’m a bit neurotic too. I don’t hate Allen’s writing. Yes, I liked some of the humor & the conversations. Their relationship was fun to watch. I also like movies that are sooooo “New York“. I’ve never been to the city but I find it fascinating in that it’s the focus of so many movies and feels so completely foreign to me despite being American. I grew up in a tiny farming community in the Midwest so New York City is a mystery to me. I’d love to visit but, man, I’d hate to live in a big city. So I can’t fully relate to the lives of those in Allen’s films but I like that the city is just as much a character as are the actors. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. It’s a well written rom-com & I can see why it has its fans, especially for those who can relate more than I can to these characters.

Let’s see what it beat to win Best Picture: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, Star Wars & The Turning Point. Wait… It beat A New Hope?! Okay, now I hate Annie Hall!!! (just kidding). But I obviously love Star Wars far more than Annie Hall. Wow – I’ve seen none of the other nominees. How embarrassing. – 7/10

Mank – Wank! Sorry, had to say that. I’m juvenile. No, Mank isn’t bad but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this one pretty boring. Yes, I only watched it as it has so many Oscar nominations. My film taste is kind of all over the place. I absolutely adore some “Oscar worthy” films while I find others a complete snoozefest. I just feel bad that I’ve “reviewed” three worthy films in a row here and I was very meh about them. So I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea & think that I can’t appreciate a well made film (even if, yes, I’d rather watch something like Aliens). In fact, I’ve just now finished watching another Top 250 film I assumed I wouldn’t like at all (Battleship Potemkin). Wow – that was good!

Mank, as well as the film it’s about making (I wrote a rubbish review of Citizen Kane here), just aren’t my kind of thing. As I said when trying to explain this in my Citizen Kane review, I just prefer the grand, sweeping epics that used to get nominated for Oscars. Mank is a good film. I really like Gary Oldman and he was as good here as he always is. Amanda Seyfried was also very good and I don’t like her at all. The story was interesting and, being a film lover, I do like movies that are about movies or filmmaking (such as the one I named my blog after, the brilliant Cinema Paradiso). So I enjoyed that aspect although I’d have liked to see much more of the actual filmmaking process. Did they even show Oldman writing Citizen Kane at all, for crying out loud?! Probably – I just wasn’t paying much attention. The film does pick up at the end and the final couple of scenes were very good but it felt like it took a long time to get to them. – 7/10

Toys – I can’t believe I never saw this 1992 Robin Williams film as I really like Williams (RIP). I also love the ’80s & early ’90s & don’t think there are many movies I haven’t seen from then. Being in my late teens then, I may have skipped this as the name & cover made it seem like a family movie kids would like? Oh my god, this definitely isn’t a movie aimed at kids. I don’t think? Although some kids may have liked it. I don’t know who the hell this movie is aimed at?! It’s weird as shit. It’s also quite a terrible movie (I did wonder why it had such a low IMDb rating). But… I also kind of liked it despite thinking the story was a complete & utter mess. The movie itself has such a great look. I’m a sucker for that. If a movie looks beautiful & has a great score, I can ignore any faults (it’s what makes me love some of the Dario Argento horrors & Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns). Not that this movie is anywhere near the genius of those films but I did appreciate its atmosphere and quite liked Joan Cusack’s bizarre character. Hans Zimmer & Trevor Horn did the music for Toys and there are some catchy songs, including one at the beginning that fans of the film seem to really like. There’s also a fun sequence where Williams & Cusack make a music video that reminded me of Talking Heads & Devo videos and man I miss that era of MTV.

I just read at Wikipedia that this was nominated for Razzies as well as Oscars: “Director Barry Levinson was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Director. The film did, however, receive Oscar nominations for Art Direction and Costume Design.” Yep! I can see why. And here’s a bit about the design of it: “Italian designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti spent over one year designing the film’s sumptuous sets, which took over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. René Magritte’s art, particularly The Son of Man, is obvious in its influence on the set design, and in part the costume design, of the film.

So, yeah, this was a weird one. It’s mostly awful yet I can also see some people absolutely loving it (from the comments at IMDb, it definitely has fans). I think I’d have affection for this one if I’d seen it at the time. I think I may actually have some affection for it now – it’s one I think I’ve talked myself into liking more by writing about it. That happens sometimes. Would love to know other peoples’ thoughts if they’ve seen this? I do like when a movie is completely unpredictable & I definitely didn’t know what the hell was going to happen in this one. Unique films are always better than boring films. Toys is unique. – 6.5/10

Skate Kitchen – This was enjoyable but definitely not for everyone. It’s the kind of indie movie that I like, focusing on characters just living their lives. You know, one of those indie films that doesn’t really have much of a plot. If you like that kind of genre, you might like this. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “Rachelle Vinberg stars as Camille, a teenage girl who befriends a group of female skateboarders in New York City. It is inspired by the real group of female skaters based in New York who call themselves “Skate Kitchen”, and features the group’s members playing fictionalized versions of themselves. It’s a drama so not as much fun as something like Richard Linklater’s “characters just living their lives” Dazed And Confused or similar. I guess I like at least a little comedy in this kind of movie. But I liked the friendships in this & it was nice to see a group of female skaters for a change. Ouch, though – that first scene made me glad I never tried skateboarding in my youth! – 6.5/10

His House – This was better than I was expecting. This is the Wikipedia plot synopsis, which makes it obvious what the film is really about: “The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” But I was hoping for a decent haunted house story as well as I love a good supernatural horror. I did enjoy that, although it took quite a while to get going and wasn’t as creepy or scary as I was hoping from the Netflix image of the face peeking through the hole in the wall. But then the story takes a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting at all and I liked that a lot. Movies rarely catch me off guard so I’m surprised I didn’t see that coming but I do like when a movie surprises me. The film could’ve been better overall but at least the ending made up for the slow start. I think most horror movies have terrible endings (why do they never know how to end?!) so it’s nice to see one that ends well. – 6.5/10

Flipped – This was… Nice? Safe? In other words: Boring & forgettable. I’d never heard of this but noticed it was directed by Rob Reiner, who directed so many all-time favorites of mine (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap). Flipped certainly doesn’t live up to those, although it’s a pleasant enough “first love” movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Starring Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn, and Kevin Weisman, the film tells the story of two eighth graders who start to have feelings for each other, despite being total opposites.” Yes, that’s all it is. It’s a nice film. The girl is likeable & John Mahoney is great as the grandfather of the boy, who strikes up a lovely friendship with the young girl. – 6/10

Coming 2 America – This had some fun moments & I really liked seeing these characters together again. And James Earl Jones & Morgan Freeman & their VOICES together in one movie?! Excellent! Love them. But, man, this movie was disappointing overall and did they seriously include that Leslie Jones scene in this day & age?! They’d have gotten away with that if it had been in the 1988 film. The story (revolving around that scene, really) was just a bit lame and the comedy didn’t work the way it did in the first film. I suppose that kind of comedy is just too dated now? But I’ll always have affection for 80’s comedy so I’m not really complaining – I just imagine no one other than fans of the original would like this sequel.

As I said, though – it was good to see Eddie Murphy & so many characters from the first movie again plus we got some good new ones. Wesley Snipes was surprisingly funny and the oldest daughter of Prince Akeem was great & should have been given more screen time than the son (and the other daughters who were completely ignored). Leslie Jones was as obnoxious as always but Shari Headley looked amazing & they sang The Humpty Dance which I still love way more than I should (& is also probably inappropriate in this day & age but, whatever – I’m Gen X so not easily offended). They just needed to make this sequel much sooner – it would have worked better in the ’90s. – 5.5/10

She Dies Tomorrow – This one was a little too pretentious for my liking. Not gonna lie – I like this kind of thing sometimes. You know, the kind of films only movie bloggers like but the general public hate because they just want a movie to actually be entertaining? Who can blame them?? But I was intrigued by the plot (a woman thinks she’s gonna die tomorrow & it puts the idea into the heads of others that they’re also going to die – a really happy pandemic movie!). It’s just one of those movies where none of the characters are likeable, everyone is self-absorbed, and the story is just this meandering mess that gives us no answers. I’m not someone who expects answers in every movie, though – I just appreciate when I can at least follow the damn storyline. Like, there are bits with an old boyfriend that I didn’t realise were flashbacks (I think??). I don’t know. I didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t care. If you liked I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, you might like this one too. It’s got a similar vibe (although that one was definitely much better than this). I’ll give this movie credit for having an original idea, at least. – 5/10

Yes Day – I still like it when fun family films are made as it feels like this genre has really died off since the ’80s & ’90s. This genre is full of a lot of pretty shit films, though. Some are good & are movies that all ages can enjoy but this one doesn’t quite work for the whole family. I can see kids liking it much more than parents and the very best family films should be aimed at least a little bit at the adults as well as at the kids. It starts out okay & it’s at first fun to see the kids get their “yes day” where the parents can’t say no to anything they suggest (within reason). It results in some fun family adventures where the parents of course learn that they should make more time to just have fun. Where it falls apart in the end is when the kids go overboard and, overall, the kids were a bit too bratty to care about. I think the parents learned their lesson more than the kids did (except the older girl a bit). The movie is fine. I’m being a little harsh. It’s just quite forgettable & there are better family films out there. – 5/10

The Hustle – Ugh. This was pretty terrible. Not gonna lie: I quite like Rebel Wilson but I can absolutely understand how her comedy is definitely not for everyone. If you hate her, you’ll hate this. I got some enjoyment out of her usual ridiculous behavior but Anne Hathaway & her awful accent were hard to take. I agree with what (I think Wilson but maybe Hathaway) said about this in that female comedy doesn’t get the same respect as male comedy as I think they originally gave this a higher rating for some slightly crude humor that was no more crude than in similar male comedies that were PG. True. I do NOT love Bridesmaids but say all the time that I don’t understand The Hangover having a much higher IMDb rating when, as far as dumb comedies go, Bridesmaids is far better than that one at least. I don’t think anyone should use The Hustle in this argument, though, as it’s pretty damn bad. There are far better crude female comedies and, sorry, the male film this one is based on (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is far superior in this case. – 5/10

Unfriended – Oh my god I HATED THIS. Almost to the point where I wish I’d never watched it. I’ll say it actually starts out okay & it was a decent idea for a film (but was done much better later on in Searching, which I really enjoyed). It’s all done via video chat, etc, so you’re looking at these twats on their screens the whole time. As with the found footage gimmick, this newer gimmick will be a “love it or hate it” for viewers but it works a bit better than you’d expect. The issue I had with the movie is that it became far too cruel & by the end I’d never wanted horror movie characters to get killed off as much as these assholes. And the final half hour was just those remaining all crying & SCREAMING into their screens and I just wanted them to shut the hell up.

I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the topic of Internet bullying. In this film, a girl kills herself after she is bullied when a very humiliating video of her is shared. It’s interesting that the film makes it clear she was a pretty terrible person herself but the point is that nobody deserves that treatment. And she killed herself over a video that the movie then shows in a very exploitative way, so it felt irresponsible that the film isn’t really at all making a point that you shouldn’t bully people so much that they commit suicide. In fact, the bullied girl is even kind of made into the villain of this story while (I think) we’re meant to feel bad for the bullies being killed off for their involvement? Not that we should be expecting a dumb teen horror movie to have a moral responsibility but the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way.

But I’m obviously from a generation where our every move wasn’t recorded & uploaded when we were teenagers. I am so thankful for that & hate that my kid is growing up in a social media world. I realise that here I am blogging to strangers and I do enjoy getting my geeky movie thoughts out into a world where there are other people with similar interests unlike anyone I know for real. But, man, I wish social media didn’t exist. I’d go back to the ’80s way of life in a heartbeat. High school was hard enough back then & I feel awful for anyone who now has to go through it during this Orwellian nightmare.

Wow, I say a lot about movies I hate! Barely said a thing about the “worthy” films in this post. I think Unfriended is now my most hated movie since starting this blog in 2012 although there are others I’ve given lower ratings. That’s because, for the throwaway slasher horror genre, this isn’t a truly bad film. The acting isn’t dreadful. And I’m not a fan of gore but, for those who are, this admittedly had some inventive kills involving household appliances. They were silly as hell and would’ve felt more appropriate in a horror comedy but at least the truly hateful characters were deserving of their dumb slasher movie deaths. – 4/10

Movies Rewatched In March:

Edge Of Tomorrow – Already reviewed this in full so don’t have to say much. Still think it’s a great sci-fi film & one of Tom Cruise’s best in years. Plus Emily Blunt’s character is fantastic. – 8/10

Big Hero 6 – This is a lovely film I’ve grown to like even more since seeing it several more times (it’s one of the kid’s favorites). Don’t need to say much as I already reviewed this too but will say again that I love Baymax. Lovable robots are the best! – 7.5/10

Krush Groove – This movie is a big guilty pleasure of mine. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons (renamed Russell Walker in the film), portrayed by Blair Underwood.” Check out this cast!: Blair Underwood, Sheila E., Run-D.M.C. & Jam Master Jay, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, New Edition, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin. The movie & story are fun but the music is great. Run-DMC are featured the most & have the most music in the film (classics such as King Of Rock, It’s Like That & Can You Rock It Like This). I also love Sheila E. performing A Love Bizarre. But my absolute favorite segment will always be The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat. Love it. Good cheesy fun! – 7.5/10

Can’t Buy Me Love – This 1987 movie was also a huge guilty pleasure of mine in high school. Still is. I watched this so many times back then. Geeky boy pays popular girl to pretend to be his girlfriend for a while as he believes that will make him popular. FYI: Geeky boy is McDreamy Patrick Dempsey for Grey’s Anatomy fans. Honestly, I can pretty much quote this whole movie.

I think I could relate to the school in this film. My small town was one where there was only one school, so you went to school with the same people from the age of 5 right up to 18. Well, that’s not quite true – our town was so small that we combined schools with another even smaller town when I was about 11. So I made some new friends but still knew those from my own town my whole damn life. And we were all friends until the teen years when it became the popular vs the unpopular. Yeah, I certainly wasn’t one of the popular kids but I was one of those who kind of went off on my own & ignored it all. I got by as I mostly got along with everyone but I hated how some of the unpopular kids were bullied. I think I had it in my head that the popular jock assholes would watch this movie & turn into nice people & all would be right with the world. Ha! Didn’t happen, although I did talk to one of the biggest assholes several years after school & he basically apologised for being such a jerk through all of high school. So maybe that movie shit happens in real life sometimes.

Anyway – this is on Disney Plus U.K. if you’re interested. I still absolutely love it although I admit it’s very ’80s and hasn’t aged quite as well as other teen movies from that time. It’s still pretty relevant, though. Also, I so wanted to be like Amanda Peterson’s character, Cindy Mancini, at the time. I thought she was so pretty. I looked Peterson up a few years ago and she had a horribly tragic life after this film & died at the age of 43. Very sad. But it goes to show that you really don’t know what terrible things someone may be going through so we should all try to be a little nicer, yeah? – 7.5/10

Deadpool 2 – Still think this one is a lot of fun & more funny than the first film. 7/10

10 Things I Hate About You – I know this is a favorite for the generation after mine & I did really like this one too the first time I saw it when it first came out. I still like it although I definitely didn’t like it as much on the rewatch. What a shame. I like Julia Stiles but her character is a little too hateful at times. Even more hateful is her little sister, though. Didn’t remember her being so annoying. However, Heath Ledger (RIP) is still absolutely adorable in this movie so it was nice seeing him in this again. Still a sad loss. – 7/10

Dodgeball – Didn’t enjoy this one as much on the rewatch either. I remembered liking it at the time but thought it was pretty dumb on the rewatch. Who knows? Maybe I was just in a bad mood this time! Have to admit I’m enjoying movies less overall in the past year. Hmm. Maybe I need to get out of the house? – 5.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MARCH

BOOKS READ

I am re-reading The Bachman Books (a collection of four Stephen King stories originally published under his pen-name Richard Bachman). I don’t normally re-read books but it’s been over 20 years since I read these. I remember absolutely loving one & really liking another but couldn’t remember anything very specific from either. The other two stories I have zero memory of whatsoever. Weird how memory works. I’ve re-read these two of the four so far:

The Long Walk by Stephen King – This was the one I remembered loving. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is a great story and could make such a fantastic movie. I know Frank Darabont had the rights to it for years & I’d been desperate for him to adapt it as he did such a brilliant job with The Green Mile, The Mist and especially The Shawshank Redemption. But I just looked into it and he’s lost the rights (oh no!). There’s a plan for it to now be made by Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark & Trollhunter director André Øvredal. I’m not happy! Did like Trollhunter but was very excited at the thought of Darabont making The Long Walk. Damn.

Anyway, the story is so simple yet so horrifying: In a dystopian reality, each year 100 teenage boys have to walk until only 1 of them is still walking. The final boy wins the big final “prize”. You get to know a few of the characters pretty well, which is what I most care about in a story. This is a short novel, though, so there’s less character development than I’d like and I think this could be one of those occasions where the movie could improve on that if done by the right person (Darabont would’ve been great with the character development!). Oh well. It’s still a great story & I still hope they finally make it into a movie. – 4.5/5

Rage by Stephen King – I can’t believe I didn’t remember a thing about this story as it later became very controversial. In fact, it is no longer being published (which King requested) so I was lucky to get an old copy of The Bachman Books at a charity shop which still includes this story. The topic is one that makes me as angry as the whole social media & bullying thing I went on about above: Guns. The massive gun problem in America in general but especially in schools.

Anyway, King wanted this to stop being published after it was too strongly linked to five school shootings. I won’t go into censorship here (oh boy, another fun topic!) but I’m mostly very much against it. It depends on the situation, though, and King made the right choice. In the story, a troubled teen boy brings a gun to school & holds his class hostage. As far as the topic of guns & school shootings go, that’s not really the focus of this story and the story doesn’t go how you’d expect. I’m trying to stay spoiler free but it’s more about the struggles of growing up & the things that shape you & mental illness & fighting back against authority (maybe – it’s not made all that clear).

I kind of made the story sound better than it is. I don’t think King quite gets his point across in this story as to why this boy does this. At least he doesn’t make you sympathise with the character, which would be very irresponsible as no one should think they have the right to bring a gun into their school. The ending also goes off the rails and I didn’t see the point of that either but at least it ends in an unpredictable way. It’s terrible to think it may have inspired real shootings as it’s not the point of this story (although I’m not sure what the point is) and probably not something King would have expected to come from this short novel. Overall, the story could’ve been better had it made its point a little more clear. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Ted Lasso: Season 1 – Thanks to Eric at Film Miasma for recommending this as I would NOT have watched a TV show about an American football coach coming to the U.K. to coach a British football team. What?! F*^king SPORTS?!? I hate ’em all! But, damn, this show was super enjoyable! Funny, great characters who are really fleshed out including even those in small roles (and some of those small roles are my favorites), and a lot of feelgood shit going on without it feeling all soppy. I’m trying to think of anything bad to point out but I can’t. I even really like the character played by Juno Temple and I can’t stand her! And I love the characters of Nathan and Roy Kent. And of course Jason Sudeikis as super sweet Ted Lasso. I like all these people. I want to hang out with them. Other than the ex-husband, who we’re meant to hate. I want to punch him in the face! Oh, here’s a negative: that theme song sucks. It’s one of those cheesy American sounding sitcom themes. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe they’re being ironic? Ignore it! You can skip it anyway. The show is definitely worth watching (it’s on Apple TV+ in the U.K.). It’s just so damn likeable.

WandaVision: Season 1 Episode 9 & Making Of – I really enjoyed WandaVision despite not being a huge Marvel fan. It felt so different from the movies, which was great. It felt unique & I looked forward to seeing it each week. Didn’t absolutely love the final episode but still think it ended as well as it could have & assume it has been left open to carry on in the films. The Making Of episode was fine but filler. Overall, the show was a pleasant surprise in a shitty year.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: Season 1 Episodes 1-2 – I don’t have much to say about this. It just feels like all superhero movies when they turn into one big dumb action scene after another but this time with lesser characters I never even really liked all that much in the films. I found these first two episodes truly boring. What a huge disappointment after WandaVision!

Battlestar Galactica (1978): Season 1 Episodes 1-3 – This is on the Horror Channel (huh??) in the U.K. so I started watching it as I never saw it. But as it’s live TV, I missed watching any more. Oops. It’s cheesy but fun so far. Rick Springfield was in it! I’ll watch the rest someday… It’s ’70s sci-fi so I’ll happily watch stuff like this anytime, especially if I missed it the first time around.

Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 12-22, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 – Wow – Really binge watching this as a family! Oh well, there’s a pandemic & we’ve been stuck at home for a year. This is an easy thing to stick on anytime in the background. Have to say the show was damn funny at the start but the final season took a nosedive in the way most sitcoms do when they run out of ideas. Oh well – there were still plenty of laughs and I liked the final episode just fine. Gonna rewatch My Name Is Earl next! (Which I loved but never saw the end of. Assume it also took a nosedive at the end anyway…)

The Crown: Season 3 Episodes 4-6 – Man, I am still not feeling the change of cast at the start of Season 3. I went from liking this show a lot, despite it not being my type of thing, to really having to force myself to watch it just so I can get to the Diana episodes in Season 4… I miss Claire Foy & all the rest! They were much better. Sorry.

The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us – Watched two or three(?) episodes of this series on Disney Plus. It’s fine as I love reminiscing about the ’80s but it’s also a bit boring. How can they make the ’80s boring?! Hell, they even devoted a bunch of time to some hockey thing at the Olympics that I didn’t even remember. Was it that big of an event if I knew nothing about it?! It’s also very American – the hubby was bored during the hockey thing too (I think – maybe I’m wrong! He played hockey! But he’s not American). I think they’re just devoting too much time to a few very specific events, such as the Jane Fonda fitness craze (although I found that sort of interesting). I don’t know – I just think no one will get anything out of what I’ve seen of this series so far unless they actually lived through the ’80s. The kid was bored while this was on. Maybe it gets better…

The Golden Girls – I’ve not exactly ranked these “best to worst”. The Golden Girls would be ranked at the top! Love this show so much. Just added it as have watched a few more episodes after picking up the rest on DVD when Channel 5 showed all but the final few seasons during lockdown. Rude! I was so disappointed when I no longer had this showing on TV during my lunch breaks. I want to hang out with these kick ass ladies even more than the Ted Lasso characters.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Don’t have any plans other than watching movies. Was contemplating re-posting any reviews I’ve done of BAFTA or Oscar nominated films before the ceremonies. Very frustrating that we’re not able to see a lot of the Oscar nominees in the U.K. Badly want to see Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal & Minari. Will review any if I see them before the Oscars.

Okay, I have to end this post with the clip of The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat in Krush Groove…