Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2021

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

I enjoyed this one. It’s a beautiful looking film (as I was hoping from the images) and Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh is fascinating as the very stern nun in charge. There’s slowly building tension throughout, leading to an intense finale I’m happy had never been spoiled for me. There’s also a bit of sexual tension with a handsome Englishman. Sexual tension in old movies is the best! It’s why I love Brief Encounter. Am very glad I finally got the chance to watch this one while it was on BBC iPlayer (sorry, think it’s gone now). – 7.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorts:

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY

BOOKS READ

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2020

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over! 🙂

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

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorts, etc:

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

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

Rewatched:

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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


God I love that cute little face

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

Movies I Want To See:

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

Possessor (big fan of his dad David Cronenberg)
Swallow
The Invisible Man
The Hunt
The Lighthouse
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Vivarium
Fatman
VFW
Promising Young Woman
Peninsula
Relic
The Lodge
Spontaneous

Would also watch these if recommended (but could live without the Netflix ones & the thought of sitting through Mank doesn’t thrill me):

Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Unhinged, Proxima, His House, Mank, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Rebecca, The Old Guard, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, The Call, Queen & Slim, On The Rocks, Happiest Season, Underwater, The Rhythm Section, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Blow The Man Down, King Of Staten Island, Black Bear, Run

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2020

2020 is almost over! But apparently Nostradamus predicted an even worse 2021?? Wonderful! Looking forward to that zombie apocalypse…

Here’s what I watched in November.

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

A Whisker Away – Enjoyed this anime film on Netflix, although it clearly wants to be a Ghibli film. Nothing wrong with that, though – who wouldn’t want their film to be as good as Studio Ghibli?? It’s about a girl who switches places with a cat sometimes, enabling her to be close to and get to know the boy she has a crush on. It’s a decent story even if it’s somewhat predictable (at least as far as anime movies go – maybe not so predictable if you haven’t seen a lot of anime). I’d probably have liked it more if it wasn’t a bit similar to the Ghibli film The Cat Returns, which I’d recommend before this but both were enjoyable & worth a watch. I have to say, though, why the hell are teenage girls in Japanese anime romance movies so damn emotional?? Good god – they’re high maintenance! Not really complaining, though, as I’m used to that now & find it kind of endearing. The girl in this is likeable in that noisy & dramatic anime-teen kind of way. Cute film. I liked it. Is it as good as Ghibli or a film by Mamoru Hosoda or Makoto Shinkai? Of course not, but I’d watch more from the makers of A Whisker Away. – 7/10

Color Out Of Space – Not sure how to review this. I’m a very big fan of Richard Stanley’s Hardware (I never shut up about it – my review is HERE). So I was very excited about this one, especially as it looked weird & beautiful and Nicolas Cage is finally growing on me thanks to the wonderfully batshit Mandy and it’s based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. It sounded like it would be right up my alley! Suppose I was hoping for some kind of Hardware crossed with Mandy crossed with Re-Animator film with this one. It’s nothing like them other than it being weird as shit. Yay! I love weird as shit! Not entirely sure what was going on here. Is it about how we’re ruining the environment? Maybe. I guess there’s some sort of message. Wanted to love this one like Mandy & Hardware but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It starts out veeeery slow until finally going WHAT THE FUCK near the end. Then it got good. Enjoyed the final bit of the movie even though I’m not entirely sure what point the film was trying to make. And I loved the pinky purple colors I’d seen in all the images of this movie – it was lovely and I wanted more of it. I… think I liked this movie? Even if I didn’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me, just like Mandy did – I started out not sure how I felt about Mandy but now consider one of my favorites of the past decade. As I always say, I watch way too many movies & far too many are boring & forgettable. I like when a movie is unpredictable or shocking. I’m not sure if I can say Color Out Of Space is a good movie, but I’ll certainly never forget it. I appreciate that. – 7/10

Dark Waters – Good film about an EVIL CORPORATION. I hate EVIL CORPORATIONS!! Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals.” So, yeah, they poisoned an entire town & loads of people got ill and some died and it’s a true story & I hate that money has power & is valued more than human life & I hate EVIL CORPORATIONS! I don’t tend to watch true story court room dramas much because, yeah, real life shit like this pisses me off so this isn’t my favorite genre. Good story. Decent acting. EVIL FUCKING CORPORATION. – 7/10

Begin Again – Why do I watch so many Keira Knightley movies? She annoys the hell out of me. That’s maybe unfair… I blame her annoying character in Love Actually! Ugh. Anyway – when she’s not doing her usual period dramas, she usually makes the kind of chick flicks I don’t mind. This one was fine. Mark Ruffalo plays a bitter record exec whose interest in his career is magically renewed when he hears Knightley singing some boring singer songwriter bullshit song in some club. The movie is pretty predictable, as most romcoms are, but the ending was somewhat unexpected so that was nice. With these movies, it’s more about the characters and if you buy into them and they were fine in this. I also liked how they decided to go about recording an album, even if it was a little cheesy. Um. Yeah. Pleasant enough romcom but I’ll probably forget most of it in a year. – 6.5/10

The Hurt Locker – Watched this only to get another Best Picture Oscar Winner crossed off my Watchlist. I’ll add it to my full ranked list HERE at some point but it’ll be near the bottom. Meh. It was okay. War movies are admittedly not my favorite but I always end up really liking them when they’re truly good (Full Metal Jacket, The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, etc). Those are classics & truly Oscar-worthy types of films. I’ve found so few modern Oscar winners to be the epic classics that the winners from the past were. And as far as war movies go, there are just so many better than The Hurt Locker yet it’s a Best Picture winner? Nah. It’s okay but not the hard-hitting emotional drama I expect from a war film. And Jeremy Renner’s character is an unlikeable asshole. As it’s dealing with a bomb squad, however, it did have some tense scenes that were probably quite stressful to watch in a cinema. So I’ll give it that. Wish I’d cared about the characters… – 6.5/10

Enola Holmes – This was disappointing. It had some fun moments but I wish it had been better. And is it just me or is Millie Bobby Brown getting a little obnoxious? That’s mean… she’s young. She seems talented so I hope she gets to be in better movies than this one. She did well as its big star, though. Think I’m just maaaaaaybe finally getting bored with the “girl power” thing. It used to be cool. I wanted to be Ellen Ripley! It’s so forced now. Bored with it. Kind of already barely remember this besides Helena Bonham Carter being great as always. Speaking of which, she’s a Suffragette in this and it made me think of her in the film Suffragette. Much better movie. I think, if you have a young daughter, Enola Holmes is a good place to start to get them interested in this sort of thing. I’m sure girls would like Brown’s character. But I think Suffragette would be a great follow-up film. I plan to now watch that one with my daughter as well so she can know a bit more about what it was like for women in that time. – 6/10

Frequencies (aka OXV: The Manual) – I watched this as I loved the sound of the plot (from IMDb): “In an alternate reality, children learn how lucky they will be (their “frequency”), knowledge which shapes their destiny. The unluckiest boy must parse the mysteries of free will in order to pursue his forbidden love of the luckiest girl.” Wish this had been better & that the characters were more likeable. I suppose that’s hard to achieve, though, in a film where the “luckiest girl” and all the lucky people apparently lack emotions for some reason. I admit I got a little confused by the end, so maybe I’m just not smart enough for this movie. But it also felt like a movie that thinks it’s smarter than it actually is. It was a bit boring but I do appreciate the effort put into an ambitious story on a low budget. – 5.5/10

Noelle – Ugh. Was hoping this would be a fun new Christmas movie along the lines of Elf. This makes Elf look like a masterpiece. This was actually embarrassingly bad. How are such rubbish movies with such big name stars being made now?? Shirley MacLaine was in this. How do you go from The Apartment to this?!?! Wow – I’m in a bitchy mood today. As if silly, cheerful Christmas movies need to be Oscar-worthy?? I guess you’ll like this fine if you like Anna Kendrick when she plays her usual sort of chipper character. She’s exactly how you’d expect her to be in this one. I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for managing to get MacLaine into this. But go watch A Simple Favor instead if you like Kendrick. Her typical chipper character actually worked brilliantly in a dark comedy. – 5/10

Rewatched:

The Martian – Enjoyed this even more on a rewatch. I really liked the book so think I was a tad harsh on the film just because, well, the movies are rarely as good as the books. But this is a very good film with some great edge-of-your-seat stuff & a character you really want to see survive. Not knowing the ending beforehand must have made this a very exciting watch for others. Has definitely gone up in my estimation. – 7.5/10

Ever After – Yes, I love Drew Barrymore. I grew up with her & try to watch everything she’s in. So I may rate her movies slightly high sometimes but I do think this is a really good variation on the Cinderella story. Still like this one a lot. – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Mandalorian: Season 2 – Think November was up to the Ahsoka episode? God I loved that episode! It was brilliant. And it was only the second best episode this season. Not sure if I’m going to do a full review of The Mandalorian in my December roundup as I don’t think I can put into words how much I’ve loved this show. I’ve enjoyed it far more than any movies in the past couple of years. WHY couldn’t they make the sequel trilogies this good??? Look how easy it was to actually please Star Wars fans! Now even more amazed that they managed to make such a mess of the movies.

The Crown: Season 1 – I admit it – I paid zero attention to the hype around The Crown until I’d heard they started the Diana years. Then I wanted to see it. Didn’t know they’d cover the Princess Diana stuff! Anyway, this show really is very good. Historical dramas aren’t normally my type of thing but I do enjoy them when they’re as good as this. And I think Claire Foy is great as Queen Elizabeth – am not looking forward to whenever it is that they change actresses. Well, I’m someone who is terrible when it comes to history. Always hated the topic for some reason & my knowledge is terrible on anything to do with the Royal family (to be fair, it’s not like I grew up in the U.K. so I can maybe be excused for knowing so little). But it means I’m thoroughly enjoying watching this story. Even though I know there’s a bunch of made-up shit but, hey – they gotta make stuff exciting for viewers…

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The daughter suddenly decided she wanted to watch this as I think a friend at school is a big fan. Never mind that I’ve been telling her for ages that I’d heard it was very good & that we should check it out. Kids! I’m a cool mom, dammit. As if I’d recommend bad stuff! 😉 Anyway, it’s quite good but I’ve stopped fully watching as I don’t have the time to devote to it. I watch an episode here & there when the kid does but she’s devouring it! I can’t keep up. She loves it. I’ll say the characters are strong & very likeable plus it’s an interesting story so I can see why it has devoted fans.

BOOKS READ

Well, I can keep this brief as I didn’t really read anything in November other than several short stories in an Edgar Allan Poe collection I have. I absolutely loved The Masque Of The Red Death when I read it a couple years ago, so have been meaning to read more of his work:

The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar – This was a bit morbid. I like! – 3.5/5

A Descent Into The Maelström – Like The Masque Of The Red Death, this was very descriptive & an enjoyable read. – 3.5/5

The Gold Bug – A fun little treasure hunt story but could have been a bit shorter. And the language used will be considered problematic now so I’m glad I have a copy from before it gets banned or something. – 3/5

MS. Found In A Bottle – A fun pirate ghost story. Did he have a thing for pirates?? Wasn’t expecting two pirate stories from Poe. I prefer the gothic creepy stuff. – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Will try to post my December roundup either end of this week or Monday & then my year-end top ten lists.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2020

Happy December! 2020 is finally almost over! I’ve decided to at least finish out the year on this blog since I only have to post my monthly roundups for October, November & December. I’ll do my usual year-end top ten lists in early January but not sure of any blog plans after that. May just continue these monthly roundups when I have the time. Here’s what I watched in October…

MOVIES WATCHED IN OCTOBER (ranked best to worst):

The Platform – I’ve been extremely disappointed with the majority of movies I’ve seen this year. The Platform was a nice surprise after a crappy year of films. I really liked this – it may be my favorite I’ve seen at home this year. I always appreciate a good concept & seeing something that feels truly original as so many movies are cliché & predictable. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The Platform (Spanish: El hoyo, transl. The Hole) is a 2019 Spanish social science fiction-horror film directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. The film is set in a large, tower-style “Vertical Self-Management Center”. Its residents, who are switched every 30 days between its many floors, are fed via a platform which, initially filled with food at the top floor, gradually descends through the tower’s levels, stopping for a fixed amount of time on each. The system inevitably leads to conflict, as the residents at the top levels get to eat as much as they can, with each level getting only the leftovers from the previous ones.” Yeah, it’s a bit of a grim dystopian tale but I’m still a fan of this genre despite this real-life dystopian year so I realise it may not be the sort of thing people will want to watch at the moment. But it’s a great story that poses some interesting questions & is well worth the watch on Netflix if you appreciate this sort of story. – 7.5/10

First Man – I liked this more than I was expecting, despite not quite connecting with Damien Chazelle’s films so far. I thought Ryan Gosling was very good playing a complex & quite standoffish Neil Armstrong. I admit to knowing nothing whatsoever of the man’s real life or personality so don’t know how accurate this portrayal was. But I felt for his character & could relate to him in a strange sort of way for a girl who has no desire to even leave her home let alone this planet. I’m sure he didn’t come across as very likeable to some viewers but I felt sorry for him. I’m aloof too! I hope the bracelet part is true but there’s no definite evidence of that from what I could find online. It was a nice, lovely touch. It’s a good film that will only be appreciated if you like good acting & strong characters. Don’t go into it expecting an exciting space travel action movie. – 7.5/10

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – I never thought of watching this film at the time as I wasn’t a fan of the very little I’d seen of Sacha Baron Cohen. But then he talked some real sense when speaking out against Facebook & social media and, hell, I thought maybe I’d watch this after all when everyone was raving about the Borat sequel (which I also watched & will mention next). I thought this movie was pretty damn hilarious. Surprised it had passed me by. Not all of the humor in it was to my taste & some of it was a bit too juvenile. But, hey, I can also appreciate a guy shitting in a bag much to the horror of his uppity dinner hosts. That shit was funny. What I really like is how he uses silly humor to expose some people for the truly awful human beings that they are. Good stuff. I’d happily watch a third film & would absolutely love it if he could manage to expose more of the rich & the famous. But that would of course be difficult now that this character is more well known (as shown in the sequel, when people recognised him at the beginning). – 7/10

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – Also got some good laughs out of this sequel, although I don’t think the comedy or overall story worked as well as in the first film. He’d set his sights much higher here, though, trying to go after Trump’s people & supporters instead of just trying to meet a sexy actress from Baywatch (plus Pamela Anderson was in on it all with the first film). So this will have been a harder stunt to pull off but he still did well to fool a lot of people. And, hey – I think a certain guy is horrible but also think he WAS tucking in his shirt. Still plenty of funny stuff in this one too, though, and the development of his relationship with his “daughter” was quite sweet (and Maria Bakalova was very funny in that role). – 7/10

The Man From Earth – This was okay. It’s about a college professor who is moving on after several years in his job & his fellow professors insist on a farewell get together at his place. He then proceeds to tell them he’s actually a Cro-Magnon caveman who has been alive for more than 14,000 years. This is one of those talky movies, so avoid if you don’t like movies where the characters just sit around & talk for the entirety of the film. There’s some good conversation, though, as he tries to convince them he’s telling the truth while they ask smart professor-y questions. There’s also some tension as his story goes against the beliefs of some of his friends. I’d like to give it a higher rating, as it’s a smart film that does well with a low budget. I liked it. I’d like to watch the sequel as well, but am disappointed to see it has a low IMDb rating. So maybe I should quit while I’m ahead & watch just this one decent standalone film with an interesting story. – 6.5/10

Hubie Halloween – I liked this, although it’s certainly not my favorite Adam Sandler film (I did a top ten of his movies HERE so I suppose I should add this at some point). Not sure where I’d rank this – maybe around 10th place or so. But I’ve seen way more than ten of his movies so I should rank all of them – Hubie Halloween is probably somewhere in the middle. What I liked about this movie more than anything was 1) the fact that it’s set at Halloween & I want more movies set at Halloween and 2) the inappropriate t-shirts his character’s sweet old mother wears and especially 3) Steve Buscemi. I love Buscemi. I do like Adam Sandler, unlike some snobby people who refuse to admit to ever liking his films. However, I also fully admit that some of his movies are complete & utter shit. Where Sandler does best is when he finds people who make his movies better. Drew Barrymore & Steve Buscemi elevate the Sandler movies they’re in. Too bad Drew wasn’t in this one! Sandler has great chemistry with Drew & Buscemi has ended up being surprisingly hilarious in all of his small Sandler movie roles. Well, Buscemi was great again & the highlight of this film for me (plus it’s a much bigger role than most of his Sandler cameos). My kid was like “Steve Buscemi!” as soon as he came on screen. How many pre-teens get excited over Steve Buscemi, let alone even know who he is?? I’m a cool movie parent. – 6/10

Before I Go To Sleep – Meh. I like a good thriller but this one got a bit too silly at the end (although the twist was okay even if a bit predictable – I love a twist). I just read something recently where someone was like “Oh look – it’s Nicole Kidman playing a woman in a bad marriage again!” My god, she really does love this sort of role. Although you don’t know in this case if she IS in a bad marriage or not as you have no idea who to trust (she’s a woman who was attacked in the past & wakes up every day not able to remember anything). So it’s like 50 First Dates without the fun. – 5.5/10

The Haunted Mansion – Finally decided to check this one out. It’s… Fine. I’m sure it’s a favorite film for some who were kids at the right sort of age when this came out. But I only saw this two months ago & am already forgetting it. Safe & fun but forgettable family film. – 6/10

Freaked – Yeah…. With the release of Bill & Ted Face The Music, I figured it was finally time to watch this Alex Winter film I somehow managed to miss back in 1993. It’s bad. Very bad. But it’s full-on Troma-level bad (without actually being a Troma film, but I’m too lazy to look into if there are Troma connections as it really does look & feel like a Troma film). I can see why this has its fans in the same way the “so bad they’re bad” Troma movies do. So, like Troma movies, I’m glad I watched this to experience it just one time. And like Troma movies (except maybe The Toxic Avenger, which is the Citizen Kane of Troma), you’d never get me to watch this a second time. Oh! Lovely Keanu Reeves makes an uncredited appearance in this, though. I’ll give it an extra half a point for that. – 5.5/10

Brahms: The Boy II – Well, this was a massive disappointment after really enjoying the first film (which I reviewed HERE). The first film had a solid story (as far as horror goes) & a very ’80s vibe to it. Two things I love: ’80s movies & creepy dolls! The story in this sequel gets really dumb & kind of undoes the simplicity of the story in the first movie. Yet another pointless horror remake. – 5/10

Tales Of Halloween – Wow. This was absolutely dreadful. It’s a collection of short “Halloween” tales (obviously). I love a good horror anthology (Trick ‘ r Treat & Dead Of Night, for example). Watch those instead. Besides the very first story (I think) being a fucked-up but fun tale of a boy wanting his Halloween candy back, the rest are silly & ridiculous. A waste of time. – 3/10

Shorts, etc:

– Birth Of A Monster: A Star Wars Story – Wasn’t sure where to put this in the post as it’s a short on YouTube. It’s a DAMN good Star Wars fan film that I’d recommend to every Star Wars lover. God, even fan films are doing a better job with Star Wars than the “professionals” did with the damn sequel trilogy! You can watch this film HERE. I don’t really want to say anything about it as I knew nothing going into it & it was a lovely surprise watching this fun Star Wars story unfold. So please check it out if you’re a fan – I think you’ll appreciate it. – 7.5/10

Rewatched In October:

Adventures In Babysitting – This movie will always be a guilty pleasure favorite of mine. Still love it. – 8.5/10

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – It’s a classic. Gene Wilder is fantastic. The songs are incredible, especially Pure Imagination which is on my regular playlist that I listen to every day while working. But I’ve always found it slightly too creepy. I was more of a Wizard Of Oz kid than a Willy Wonka kid. Still am. – 7.5/10

Billy Madison – More Adam Sandler! Again, I’d probably rank this somewhere in the middle but higher than Hubie Halloween. And, again, we get a brilliant Steve Buscemi cameo. I’d actually forgotten that bit as I hadn’t watched this in years. Hilarious! Think it’s my favorite Buscemi cameo after drunk Wedding Singer Buscemi. How many times can I say Buscemi in this month’s post?? – 6.5/10

Monster House – This is one of those where I remember really liking it at the time but, on a rewatch, it’s not as good as I remembered. The animation just isn’t good enough compared to films we’ve had since. But, hey – Steve Buscemi is in it! I said Buscemi again! Am sure that will be part of the reason why I liked it at the time. It’s still a decent family movie, though, and was worth the rewatch. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN OCTOBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

I didn’t make note of anything here in October but I think season 2 of The Mandalorian started in October?? Well, as I’m now writing this in December I’ve already seen the final episode. Oh. My. God. I’m not sure I can even put into words how much I absolutely loved it. Guess I’ll have to try in my December post! As for episode 1 in October, it was great with an exciting glimpse at the end of the episode. A very strong start to an absolutely brilliant series.

BOOKS READ

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Not going to do some in-depth review of this. I’m not exactly qualified when I stick mainly to Stephen King & YA novels! Yes, Frankenstein is an all-time classic and I really liked reading the full story as I only knew some bits & pieces from film adaptations. The story is actually quite different from interpretations I’ve seen. But was it a fun read for me? Not gonna lie – reading a book written in 1818 was a challenge. Took me ages to read it but, hey, I can’t afford the newest Stephen King book so had to read something. Brilliant story, I love that it was written by an 18-year-old girl, and Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t as innocent as adaptations had led me to believe. It’s a great novel but reading it was a bit of a slog. – 4/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Am hoping to post my November roundup before the end of the year & then my December roundup & year-end top ten lists in early January. Want to continue only these monthly posts in 2021 but need to find a way to make them shorter. Maybe I need to watch fewer movies… Less to have to write about that way! 🙂

Guess the song I should end with for this roundup is Pure Imagination…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2020

Well, I’ve almost caught up on these monthly roundups. I now have to attempt to remember & review what I watched in September. I’m happy that it appears I didn’t watch much that month, so I don’t have to blather on for ages. Here we go…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Bill & Ted Face The Music – Ah! This was the Bill & Ted month!! This was my most-anticipated movie of probably the past ten years. Seriously – I’m a big Bill & Ted fan. The first movie especially is fantastic. Will forever love these characters & think the films are clever as hell & the comedy is truly funny (while still managing to be PG-type comedy – it’s possible to be hilarious and wholesome!). Only saw this one once, so want to see it again to know better how I feel. It gave me warm fuzzies seeing these dudes again. There was a bit of worry that the daughters would be the main focus & they’d cast Bill & Ted aside (like the Star Wars sequel films I’m liking less & less as time goes by). But, no, Bill & Ted were luckily still the true stars. The daughters were still given plenty to do, although it would’ve been nice to see them with their fathers a bit more. I wasn’t really feeling the daughter characters, though? They didn’t fit quite right for me. (Sorry!). But, as I said, I need to see it again. They might grow on me. The film is definitely not perfect. It was NEVER going to live up to the first film, though. But it’s not as good as Bogus Journey, either, which I still thoroughly enjoy but will never love in the same way. But, hey – Who cares? We got to see two of my favorite movie characters back together again, which put a big smile on my face (as well as on the kid’s & the hubby’s). It was the kind of movie this crappy year needed. – 7/10

Mulan – This was a lovely film to look at but, overall, disappointing compared to how much I think I’d hyped it up in my mind. I just thought the trailer made it look like it could be amazing but it sadly didn’t live up to that. Before that trailer, I’d decided to give up on watching any more live-action Disney remakes of their animated classics. They’re pointless. It’s Disney being greedy & it’s bullshit. Beauty And The Beast was such a waste of time (with a horrible Belle) so I didn’t bother with Aladdin (looked shit) or The Lion King (no reason whatsofuckingever to remake that). But the daughter really likes the animated Mulan and, yeah, this looked so good in the trailer. We still enjoyed it, though. Think the kid was just disappointed at how different it was from the animated film but I kind of prefer when they make it a lot different. I don’t see the point of making an exact copy. That’s why I kind of appreciated Tim Burton’s Dumbo despite its definite flaws. I think the characters were just a bit weak in the live-action Mulan. They were… dull. Lovely film, some decent action, dull characters. Disappointing. But it made me appreciate the animated film a bit more. Mulan is always a bit overlooked. – 6.5/10

Countdown – I enjoyed this basic, utterly predictable horror film. It’s about an app that people download that tells them exactly how long they have left to live. So, of course, those who don’t have long to live according to the app die as soon as their time runs out. And, of course, a pretty young blonde medical student downloads it & finds out she has only days to live and must find a way to “cheat death”. Not gonna lie – this movie totally rips off Final Destination. But I always liked the simple setup of that film and thought it made for a really good story (and they were obviously able to use it over & over & over again). It doesn’t work as well in Countdown & gets far too silly at the end but it’s still an enjoyable film thanks to some entertaining characters in the smaller roles. It’s not the best in the genre but I’ve seen far worse. It was exactly what I was expecting so I wasn’t disappointed. – 6/10

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – How do I go about reviewing this?! I can’t. It’s a Charlie Kaufman film & you like his work or you don’t. I do for the most part, although none of the films he’s written are exactly all-time favorites of mine. I’m trying to not use the word pretentious here! It’s hard. Do I prefer this sort of film to some dumb popcorn movie like Countdown? Definitely. But these types of movies aren’t always enjoyable. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind & Being John Malkovich were enjoyable. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things was a bit of a slog to get through. I appreciate that stuff like this gets made & I was intrigued & I do like a bit of “what the fuck is going on?!”. There’s plenty of WTF in this. Especially at the end, where it gets weird as shit. I preferred the full-on weirdness at the end. But the first two thirds of the film carry on for what felt like HOURS. Good god. I sat through all of that to find out there’s a pretty simple explanation to the whole damn thing. Oh, and no one was very likeable. That never helps either. An interesting watch but not a fun one. – 6.5/10

Mikey – Enjoyed this one much more. I’m so classy! Was this a good film? No. It was cheesy but fun & I liked seeing so many recognisable faces from that time. It’s a horror movie from 1992 that I’m not even sure was released (the rating says “Rejected” on IMDb. What does that mean??) about a young boy who is a psycho killer. What can I say? I love movies with evil children. The Omen is a big favorite (not that this is even close to being as good as that). Cute little Brian Bonsall plays the psychopath. Ha! Remember him from Family Ties?! This is no wholesome TV show – he truly is a crazy fucker. This also starred Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser fame (actually thought she was a good character in this cheesy horror) & Lyman Ward of “Ferris Bueller’s dad” fame. And Josie Bissett of Melrose Place which I never watched. And Mimi Craven who I just read was Wes Craven’s wife at the time. So, the Craven & Hellraiser horror connections are cool. I read that this movie is still banned to this day in the U.K. (how did I see it on Amazon Prime U.K., then?!). Sadly, I know why it was banned at that time so that’s completely understandable. – 6/10

I See You – This was decent. Preferred how it started out to how it ended but liked the completely unpredictable turn it took. I appreciate that as the majority of horror films’ plots fail to surprise me in any way. But this is one of those movies that sort of switches genres halfway through & the mysterious horror at the start is more my type of thing. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “It follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.” And that really tells you nothing about this movie… Worth a watch if you like a crime horror that keeps you guessing. – 6/10

Time Trap – This was a strange one. Where I said that I See You changes its genre, this film is just kind of all over the place. It’s really just sci-fi, I guess. I don’t know how to review or rate this. Overall, I liked it. The characters were decent, especially the younger boy with this group, so that helps me to like a movie. They weren’t that well-developed, though. And that ending was so cheesy! At least like I See You, it was unpredictable. I like that. Oh, it’s about a group of students who go looking for their missing professor in a cave & get stuck there in some kind of time loop thingy or something. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Cobra Kai – Oh my god! Was it September when I finally watched Cobra Kai? I loved it SO much!!! The nostalgia! I’m a sucker for ’80s references & the writers have done brilliantly mixing Eighties culture with modern teens & I love how they clash in funny ways. Johnny clearly being stuck in his glory days & listening to all his ’80s music & not understanding woke culture & social media is hilarious. And Johnny mentioned Trapper Keepers! Ha! Adorable. Speaking of Johnny, how have they made all of us middle-aged women have a crush on that complete dickhead from The Karate Kid?! What I like is that they got the balance perfect in this show. They focus on the adults as much as the teens and it really feels aimed at Generation X just as much as at current teens. I can see why it has done so well (review-wise, anyway – I have no idea what the viewing figures are). I have very little time for TV shows but I binged these episodes before starting work every day (also helped that each are between 30-40 minutes long). I seriously can’t wait for the next series. In some ways, I think I enjoy it even more than The Mandalorian. Take The Child out of that & I’d choose Cobra Kai. But I’m so happy to finally have two shows I really love.

America’s Got Talent – Meh. I hate reality shows but they’re the right kind of mindless crap you can stick on while eating & not really pay attention to. The “talent” on this series was worse than ever. It was odd, though, as it had to be done without an audience & socially distanced. A lot of performances were via video. I’ll forgot 99% of the people who were in this like I always do. Prefer the singing talent shows but those are forgettable too.

Marvel’s Runaways – Watched two episodes. Not feeling it but the daughter likes it okay. Forgot we started this, actually. Suppose we’ll try another episode sometime.

BOOKS READ

Final Girls by Riley Sager – This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters. Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.” – 3/5

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to try to finish out the year with my October, November & December roundup posts then my usual Year End Top Ten lists. Will seem strange to list so few movies I actually saw in a cinema in 2020…

In tribute to Cobra Kai, I have to end this post with You’re The Best by Joe Esposito from The Karate Kid. Motherf*^kin’ montage!

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2020

Hi All. I’ll try to keep this one short. I just feel like I have to finish out this year by posting these monthly updates but they’re exhausting to put together. Here’s what I watched & read in August…

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Meet Me In St. Louis – First of all, I’ve been a big The Wizard Of Oz fan since I was a young girl. However, I wouldn’t say I was a Judy Garland fan as that was the only movie I’d ever really seen her in. I was always curious about this one. Well, I became even more interested after seeing Renee Zellweger as Garland in the film Judy. I liked that movie a lot & figured it was finally time to watch another Judy Garland film. It’s a fun film. But I don’t think it will make it onto any “top ten musicals” lists I might do (yes, I did my top ten movie musicals HERE). The main problem is that, other than the thoroughly enjoyable The Trolley Song, the rest of the songs just aren’t very memorable. But Garland is delightful & she really did have that special sort of star power that I wish more performers had. She also had a cheeky little brat of a younger sister in this – I liked how feisty that girl’s character was. They were the best two characters by far, though – no one else really stood out and the story was a little weak. But I’d happily watch more of Garland’s work now. – 7.5/10

The Peanut Butter Falcon – I liked this quirky little feelgood movie much more than I was expecting to. I was reluctant to watch it as I really dislike both Dakota Johnson & Shia LaBeouf. They were good in this, though, so I have no complaints. But the real star is Zack Gottsagen as the young man who escapes from his care home to go in search of his favorite professional wrestler. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “Its plot follows a young man with Down syndrome (Gottsagen) who escapes from an assisted living facility and befriends a wayward fisherman on the run (LaBeouf); as the two men form a rapid bond, a social worker (Johnson) attempts to track them.” As to be expected with this sort of film, the focus is on the characters & you get to know them as you go on this journey with them. I always care about having strong characters in a film more than anything else & you want nothing more than to have Gottsagen’s character’s pro wrestling dream come true. He & LaBeouf had good chemistry & their unusual friendship worked well in the movie. A very pleasant film. This horrible year needs more pleasant films! – 7.5/10

Mid90s – I really enjoyed this film too. It’s probably tied with The Peanut Butter Falcon but I ranked that a little higher due to the “feelgood factor” of that film. This was written & directed by Jonah Hill, who obviously wrote about a time period he was very fond of. As much as I’m super proud of being an ’80s kid, my high school years were actually the late ’80s into early ’90s, so I’m also fond of that early to mid-90s time period too (the world turned to shit after that). So I can very much relate to this film despite it being about a bunch of west coast skateboarding dudes (I’m a Midwest girl). If I was about five years younger & had lived on the west coast, I’d probably have hung out with dudes like these back then. I think it’s because the attitudes of that time were similar for everyone in their teens & early twenties no matter where they lived in the States. It was a far simpler time (god I miss it!). The language in this is sweary as fuck (fuck yes!). You could swear back then & say offensive things. There’s a character whose nickname is “Fuckshit”. These boys swear a lot & do naughty things & are completely likeable (except for the bully older brother – what an asshole). Again, as I always say, it’s the characters I care about most in a movie. These are good characters. The main boy, young actor Sunny Suljic, was good but I have to agree with the hubby that it was Na-Kel Smith as Ray who really stood out. And he’s been in almost nothing since?! They need to stick him in more movies. He has a great presence. Anyway – I really liked this one. But it does help to be nostalgic for that time period. Oh! And the soundtrack was great too! Music from A Tribe Called Quest & The Pharcyde, among many others. The mid-90s feel like the final years of good music existing. Why is it that absolutely everything sucks now? – 7.5/10

The Wizard – Holy crap! Yet another ’80s/early ’90s movie I somehow never saw & never even heard of?! I said the same when I reviewed Wildflower the other day – I didn’t think there were any movies left from then that I’ve not seen (or at least not heard of). This was fun. I’d have liked it if I’d seen it in 1989. It has obviously not aged quite as well as some, though, as part of the focus of the film is on video games which are very dated now. Christian Slater is in this, too! One of my big crushes from back then. Look at this twat with his game glove thingy. Apparently this was a real thing? I don’t know – I was never a gamer.

This also starred Fred Savage, who I know, and Jenny Lewis, who I’ve never ever heard of. Hubby was like “WTF? You’ve not heard of her? She’s a big music star!” and I was just like “Isn’t she the girl from Troop Beverly Hills?” I badly want to see Troop Beverly Hills again – bet that one really hasn’t aged well! But I had fun watching The Wizard. I rarely dislike movies from that era, especially family films or ones focusing on kids or teens like this one. – 6.5/10

The Deep End Of The Ocean – I mainly watched this as it’s a Michelle Pfeiffer movie I never saw and I like her. I was intrigued by the story too, about a family whose young son is kidnapped and appears 9(?) years later knocking on his family’s door asking if he can mow their lawn. It appears to based on a fictional novel but I’ve always been fascinated (not sure that’s the right word) with true stories of kidnapping or when kids are switched at birth. I can’t stand the thought of it & the emotional trauma for the kids. This movie explores that but not as much as I was expecting. It felt a little “lightweight” for such a dramatic topic. I’m sure it was explored more in the book. It reminds me of a TV movie I watched as a teen that was a true switched at birth story where the families discovered the truth when the two girls were teenagers (after one of them sadly died from an inherited disease). It was heartbreak all around as the biological family fought for custody of a girl who didn’t know them at all and who loved the father she’d grown up with & didn’t want to leave him. Similar happens in this movie. It’s a good story with decent acting but, speaking of TV movies, it has a very TV movie feel to it. Maybe because this kind of story is such a Hallmark Channel type of film? I like that sort of thing when in the mood. I don’t normally go for Hallmark type “drama”, though. – 6.5/10

The Call – Again, a story about kidnapping. This stars Halle Berry as a 911 operator who takes a call from kidnapped teenager Abigail Breslin (calling from the trunk, or boot if you’re British, of her kidnapper’s car). This actually started out as a really good, fast-paced thriller as Berry does what she can to help keep the girl calm while also trying to think of ways to help her escape. Good edge-of-your-seat type stuff. Unfortunately, the movie takes a nose dive at the end when the characters do the stupid sort of things that only people in movies do. As much as I LOVE a good revenge thriller, it went a little overboard at the end. Still enjoyed the film & its intensity overall, though. – 6.5/10

The Nightingale – Fucking hell. This one was GRIM. I watched it as I absolutely loved director Jennifer Kent’s film The Babadook. I suppose it’s a good film with good acting but it’s just not my type of thing. At all. I don’t need to watch stuff like this & lose even more faith in humanity. Filled with violence, a lot of rape, death, and truly horrible, evil people. Watch it if you like a very gritty drama where even some revenge doesn’t give you any satisfaction as a viewer, as no one ends up any better off by the end of this film. – 6/10

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Awful. I don’t have much more to say than that. And, sorry, but Sophie Turner is a dreadful actress. I’ve spent lockdown watching all things X-Men since my daughter has become a big fan. I love the characters. I wish the movies were as good as the characters. This movie is the worst of them all. – 5/10

Work It – Bloody hell – Forgot that the kid put on this teen dance flick one night. It was fine as far as teen dance flicks go so I’m sure younger girls like it just fine. It’s no Save The Last Dance, though! That was much better. Even Honey was better (and that’s not exactly great). Meh. Stars Sabrina Carpenter. Think she’s one of these Nickelodeon or Disney kids (or something). – 5/10

Freaks – Watched this 2018 supernatural horror on Netflix since I liked the sound of it & am a fan of that genre. I hated it. It started out strong, but… Well, this is one of those where I’m not sure why I hated it. I think it’s because the characters were so unlikeable. You start out rooting for the girl but by the end you don’t care what happens to her. Why should a viewer care what happens to hateful characters? Shame, as it was intriguing at the start… – 4.5/10

Movies Rewatched In August

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – This was such a great series of films. Have started rewatching them again & think I enjoyed this one even more the second time around. – 8/10

The Legend Of Billie Jean – Clearly, I love the ’80s & have already mentioned in my review of The Wizard above that I had a crush on Christian Slater. Although I think I had a far bigger crush on Helen Slater in this one… Love her character & freaking love that Pat Benatar song in this (Invincible). I want to go back to 1985. – 7.5/10

13 Going On 30 – This one is a guilty pleasure. It always puts a smile on my face when it’s on & I liked rewatching it with my daughter. I was 30 when this came out & could relate 100% to the 30-year-old as well as the 13-year-old in 1987. Kind of love this movie even though it’s a little cheesy. But we don’t get these sort of family-friendly comedies anymore. What’s with that?! Oh, and a Pat Benatar song is featured in this movie too. Hell yeah! She ruled the ’80s. And The Talking Heads – still love them too. – 7.5/10

Daredevil – Hey, Jennifer Garner again! Preferred her in 13 Going On 30 – she was perfect for that sort of role. Watched this again as the kid is very into superheroes lately. The less mainstream ones, though – she’s not into the big MCU stuff as much. She never wants to like the most popular stuff! Absolutely refuses to ever read or watch Harry Potter as too many kids her age love it. Actually, that’s cool… She’s cooler than me. Anyway, the worst thing about this is that Ben Affleck is in it. I hate Affleck. Far prefer Garner! Did he dump her? Can’t remember. Anyway, the movie itself isn’t great but also isn’t exactly the worst superhero movie ever. There have been far worse. I’m just SO bored with superhero movies… – 6/10

Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! – Ha! Oh yeah – forgot we all rewatched this one. Hey, I like Pikachu. So sue me. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King – Been wanting to read this for years as I really liked the TV show Haven which I knew was only very loosely based on this book. Loosely was an understatement! It just happens to be set in the same small town in Maine. That’s the only true link. At least I think it was Maine. It’s a King book – it must be Maine! It’s set in small-town fishing village Maine & I think I want to live out my elderly years in StephenKingesque small-town Maine. I read too much King. This is one of his non-horrors and I really liked it. I often like his non-horrors where the focus is on good characters, and they were pretty well developed ones for what was a pretty short book. It’s not as good as the other one in this Hard Case Crime series, though (Joyland). Joyland was great! But I’d recommend both to King fans. – 3.5/5

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – This was disappointing compared to Rowell’s book Eleanor & Park. That was some good YA. Not sure this one is YA? Is it still YA when the main couple are married thirty-somethings (with flashbacks to their college days due to a magic time-travelling phone)? I read it because I liked what it was about: A woman may have a chance to save her marriage when she realises that an old landline phone she’s using is calling her now-husband back when they were in their twenties & first dating. Great concept but I didn’t care much for the characters & the ending seemed a bit cheesy & rushed. It was okay but Eleanor & Park was much better. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Umbrella Academy – Started watching this but as of November I’ve still only seen a couple of episodes. Ended up too busy with the fantastic Cobra Kai & The Mandalorian! Do really like The Umbrella Academy so far, though, and want to get back to it. Great first episode & my kind of weird. So far. But I’m used to things on Netflix taking a big dump after Season 1 (like Stranger Things did).

X-Men (The Animated Series) – Can’t say I watched this at the time as it started when I was in my late teens/early twenties, so it wouldn’t have been on my radar. But as I said above, my daughter has suddenly become a big X-Men fan so we’ve started watching this. It’s good! I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Hell, it’s better than most of the movies. Dammit – Can they just start over on the movies and make some really good ones finally?! They’re just getting worse & worse. Oh, and the theme song for this show is super catchy! Gets stuck in my head for days after watching some episodes. I miss ’80s & ’90s cartoons. They were the best! (Although Gumball was pretty awesomely weird for a more modern cartoon…)

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I suppose I’ll attempt to post my September & October monthly roundup posts next week before my 8th blogiversary at the end of the week. I always put a blogiversary post together but am not sure I have the energy this year. I may just do a roundup post of my favorite movies I’ve watched in 2020.

I’ll once again end my post with good music from a movie I watched. There was a lot of good movie music in August. All that Pat Benatar! And the music in Mid90s! Let’s go with Pat Benatar’s Invincible from The Legend Of Billie Jean…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched In July:

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2020

Looks like June was the month when I watched some actual “new releases”. Must admit I’m missing my pretty-much-weekly trip to the cinema but I have no plans on going back to one anytime soon. So I better get used to crappy straight-to-Netflix movies…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Okay, I’m not going to pretend this is in any way a good movie. But I quite liked it. Am I just desperate for new releases?! I have to say that I can’t imagine Americans enjoying this movie in the same way. I think you have to see the real Eurovision every year to fully appreciate just how delightfully cheesy & ridiculous it is. It’s especially entertaining to live in the UK & watch the UK entry get almost no votes every year because all the other countries hate the UK (there’s a joke about this in the movie that gave us a good laugh).

I think this movie did the real contest justice. It seems like your usual over-the-top Will Ferrell comedy but, honestly, he hasn’t really exaggerated what the show is like. Ferrell is a big fan of Eurovision and I think the movie manages to show his love for it while at the same time lovingly making fun of it. In the end, it’s a sweet story and the final half of the movie makes up for a slow start. And, hell, the songs are pretty good! Maybe a little too good. Much better than most the shit in the real Eurovision. Ferrell is goofy as always (his films are hit or miss for me) and Dan Stevens & Pierce Brosnan are fun additions but I think Rachel McAdams is the best thing about the movie. Her more subtle comedy works well with Ferrell’s usual craziness (liked her in Game Night too). The movie is silly & it won’t be winning any Oscars but it’s one of the first-time watches from all of lockdown that I enjoyed the most. Jaja Ding Dong! – 7/10

The Vast Of Night – I really liked this movie as well, although I wanted to like it even more as I think they did a great job with it. I respect it. I always appreciate a good low-budget sci-fi where you can tell that the filmmakers have truly put their hearts into making the movie. Let’s give them credit: This movie was written by Andrew Patterson (under the pseudonym of James Montague) & Craig W Sanger. Based on this, I’d love to see what sort of a big budget film they could make in this genre. But, to be fair, the slow-paced low-budget indie-movie style perfectly suits this innocent 1950’s small American town setting. I don’t think a big, glossy Hollywood movie would have captured this town in the same way. I think I’m also a fan of “small town Americana” movies as I grew up in such a small town myself.

I thought they especially did a good job adding all the small details to make this one feel like it really was taking place in the 1950s. I have a lot of affection for that time period and that whole “UFO paranoia” thing as I grew up on the original The Twilight Zone. The movie is clearly influenced by that & introduces the story in a Rod Serling/Twilight Zone way that gave me warm fuzzies. I do think this is a very well made indie sci-fi with two strong main characters but also know it’s absolutely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb if you’re interested: “In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.” FYI: This movie is on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend this movie to old school ’50s sci-fi fans. But probably only to those people. It’s a shame the film may not get as much recognition due to being such a specific sub genre.

Also a quick mention of another good low-budget movie this reminded me of (not sure why) but in the horror genre: Pontypool. Bizarre movie but a great concept. It just gave me a similar vibe, but The Vast Of Night is a better film. I’m happy I happened to see TVON mentioned on Twitter (by Robert Englund – What?! Freddy Krueger?!?). Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about it. Thanks, Freddy! – 7/10

Extraction – Not gonna lie: I 100% watched this for Chris Hemsworth. This isn’t my type of genre AT ALL so I wouldn’t have bothered if hottie Chris wasn’t in it. However, even though I don’t like this genre, I occasionally like the movies if they’re good enough. The likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger & Sylvester Stallone made plenty of this type of thing in my precious ’80s & I definitely liked some of those. But Extraction isn’t good enough. It’s… Forgettable. As in: I saw this only two months ago but don’t remember enough to write about it. Um… I think I remember Chris, like, sitting at the bottom of a lake & meditating (as you do)? And I remember the boy being likeable enough for you to want The Hems to save him. And I remember a ridiculous final scene (that I kind of liked as I thought this movie needed to be MORE ridiculous than it actually was – it would have made it more fun). Meh. At least I got to watch Chris Hemsworth in a new movie. – 6/10

My Spy – I shouldn’t be “reviewing” this as I slept through a good chuck of it. But it was so predictably predictable that sleeping through some of it made no difference. Anyway – I don’t know why but I’ve seen a lot of this weird genre (tough action movie guy doing a family film with a bunch of kids). When did this become a thing?? Because I kind of like these stupid films. I blame that on Kindergarten Cop. Kindergarten Cop rules. All I expect from these films is for them to have a few laughs, to have a cheesy heartwarming moment, and for the kid(s) to be somewhat likeable (or at least cheeky without being overly annoying). This movie fulfils the requirements well enough. Dave Bautista is fine as the latest big muscle-y dude to do this sort of film but the girl, Chloe Coleman, is the star. I can see her easily getting more roles after this. This movie is meh but at the better end of this genre. Not as good as Kindergarten Cop but thankfully much better than Tooth Fairy… – 6/10

As Above, So Below – This was disappointing. I have a fascination with the catacombs in Paris. I’ve been there and walking through row upon row of skulls & bones is a pretty freaky experience so I can see why it has inspired horror movies. But they have yet to make a good horror movie set there. There was a truly dreadful 2007 movie called Catacombs, starring Shannyn Sossamon & Pink, that I would never recommend to anyone. I actually bought that stupid DVD just because I’d been wanting a horror movie to be set in the catacombs. From what I remember, though, it did at least manage to be a little creepy.

As Above, So Below is certainly the better film of the two but it’s such a weird mishmash of genres that it just didn’t work for me. And it’s not creepy enough. I think a movie with this setting needs to be pure horror but this movie had a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider thing mixed in with the horror. And then some weird supernatural stuff which is something I normally love but was just too dumb in this case. And the characters were okay but extremely underdeveloped while our lead girl was a tad unlikeable (although the actress was fine). Oh, it’s also a “found footage” film, which not everyone likes (I don’t mind found footage). Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew’s experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell.” Oh yeah – there’s some weird religious stuff going on & ancient artefacts & that kind of shit. I wanted to like this movie but the weird Lara Croft thing going on with the main girl was just awkward. I guess I was expecting a more straightforward horror film but I also give the movie credit for trying to do something a little different. – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

The Wedding Singer – This is a favorite of mine & by far Adam Sandler’s best movie. I know he has a lot of bad ones but The Wedding Singer is genuinely good. And he has great chemistry with Drew Barrymore (love her). I mean, my username comes from this movie. Still think I was brave to use an Adam Sandler reference on a movie blog! I obviously like this movie even more because of Drew but the ’80s setting & great soundtrack help a lot as well. Steve Buscemi is hilarious. Rapping granny is adorable. And don’t you talk to Billy Idol that way! Plus I’ll always love the mutants at table 9. – 8/10

Never Been Kissed – More Drew Barrymore! Rewatched this one with the kid. I’ve always found this movie very “sweet”. And Josie Grossy is still fun to say. And Michael Vartan was a cute “hot teacher”. And I like the ending because I DO occasionally like girly romantic stuff. – 7.5/10

Turner & Hooch – Rewatched this with the kid as well. It’s a fun family film & I miss the days when they made so many films in this genre. Where have all the decent family films gone?! Anyway – the movie has aged pretty well. I still love a good “dog buddy” comedy. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JUNE

MUSIC LISTENED TO

I’ve listened to no “new” music the past couple of months… Can anyone recommend a good new album??? Or, better yet, a good old album since 90% of current music sucks? I’m bored.

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – As I’ve said in every recent post, it took me months to read this but I finally finished in June. I said I’d review it in my June post but… I can’t do it! How the hell do you go about reviewing Dune?? It’s a loooong book and a lot happens. I enjoyed it very much, yes, but not enough to read the rest of the books (which I’ve heard aren’t as good anyway). I’m really looking forward to the Denis Villeneuve adaptation now, though, as I love his films. I’m especially wanting to see how Rebecca Ferguson does as Lady Jessica as she was my favorite character. I think she should do well as I thought she was great in Doctor Sleep. By the way – Lady Jessica kicks ass (for those wanting more strong female characters in books & film). Oh, and apparently the film is only covering half of this first book?? Bloody hell. Well, I don’t have time to continue reading these tomes but do like the story so am hoping for an epic series of films from Villeneuve. – 4/5

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman – This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening. Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters). – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

It looks like I watched no TV in June other than catching up on the latest season of annoying Grey’s Anatomy. Ugh.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’ll hopefully post my July roundup post by the end of August. Then post my August roundup in September. I have no blog plans beyond doing monthly roundup posts. Life is too busy at the moment, even with being stuck at home.

I should end this post with a song from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. But I’d rather post one from The Wedding Singer soundtrack. Woohoo! Eighties!! Here’s Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2020

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewatched:

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

X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10

X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10

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

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

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

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

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC & BOOKS

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2020

Hi again. Hope everyone is still safe & well. I’ve managed to put another post together, this time looking back at what I watched, read & listened to way back in April…

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Crimson Peak – I do love a gothic horror and, while none of Guillermo del Toro’s films are personal favorites of mine, I did like The Shape Of Water & think Pan’s Labyrinth is a brilliant & visually stunning film. So I’m not sure what took me so long to check out Crimson Peak as it’s the type of thing I enjoy. And I did definitely enjoy it despite it not being perfect. The story is fine but the atmosphere & the look are what I care about in this type of film and Crimson Peak didn’t disappoint in that department. Loved that creepy dilapidated mansion! I couldn’t find many great images to use for this post but that could be because the movie is quite dark & still images don’t do it justice. I have to say the most disappointing thing in this film are its stars. I’ve never liked Jessica Chastain’s acting & she was as bad as always. I also find Tom Hiddleston a bit bland, although his character was okay, and I’ll never get why Mia Wasikowska became so big when she’s so boring (although this role was perfect for her, so I didn’t mind her in this). But I don’t care that much about who stars in a movie, although it’s an added bonus when it’s actors I do really like. So the stars didn’t ruin this film for me anyway. It’s a pretty straightforward ghost story and a tad predictable but it’s still a solid “haunted house” film with some great imagery. Overall, though, it’s disappointing compared to Guillermo del Toro’s other films. But we can’t expect Pan’s Labyrinth every time. – 7/10

Dreamgirls – Not sure why I missed this one when it was out. I really liked this & Jennifer Hudson was worthy of her Oscar. I didn’t know anything whatsoever about the musical & didn’t think I knew any of the songs but it turns out that I did know And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. Good song but those reality show contestants sing it too often! But I suppose that’s okay since it’s how Hudson became famous. Anyway, I love the Motown era and thought this was a really good look at that ’60s into ’70s time period and the rise to fame of a girl group very clearly meant to resemble The Supremes. The songs were good & it was fun hearing ones so closely resembling acts such as The Jackson 5. I have to say that the movie isn’t exactly deep but the characters are good & it’s an enjoyable film. Definitely recommend it to music lovers and anyone interested in a lightweight fictional look at the Motown record industry. It made me want to watch a good documentary about Motown. – 7/10

Captain Fantastic – Enjoyed this as well, although I have to be in the right kind of mood for “quirky indie drama with good performances”. I often like these type of films but sometimes I absolutely hate them & find them phoney & pretentious. Captain Fantastic is a good film & Viggo Mortensen was deserving of his Best Actor Oscar nomination. As with most movies like this, I couldn’t in any way relate to these characters with a very different sort of lifestyle but the film did well in making you care about them and wanting the best possible life for them. The question is what is the best possible life for them? Not everyone has the same values, goals & dreams. I admit this movie is deserving of a much higher rating than I’m giving it. It’s a very good film (it’s certainly better than Crimson Peak) but it’s a bit too “drama” for me. I like my quirky indie dramas to have a touch more comedy as well. Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, The Way Way Back, etc etc. Think I had that expectation for Captain Fantastic for some reason. But as I said – Very good film & performances. I recommend it if this genre is your type of thing. – 7/10

Blinded By The Light – It’s very hard to not compare this film to the other 2019 British feelgood movie written around another band/singer and their songs (Yesterday, in which a guy wakes up to find he’s the only person with any memory of The Beatles and their music). Not gonna lie – I’m not a fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music at all while I absolutely love The Beatles (top ten here), so I was of course going to enjoy Yesterday much more than Blinded By The Light (and I prefer Manfred Mann’s version of that song – Sorry, Bruce!).

Which film is actually better? It’s hard to say. Yesterday was very flawed and completely failed to explore the complexities of its ambitious idea but I really liked it anyway. I like a good story and Yesterday had such a brilliant idea of exploring an alternate universe in which The Beatles never existed. As I watch so many movies, I get bored with seeing the same predictable stories over & over again so Yesterday was a treat even if it didn’t quite do its brilliant idea justice.

Blinded By The Light is indeed a feelgood film. I enjoyed it & think lovers of Springsteen would all very much enjoy it as well. But the film doesn’t feel like anything we’ve not seen before. Quirky feelgood indie movies are as predictable as quirky indie dramas. I wanted to like this movie more as it’s very “sweet” and god knows feelgood films are badly needed with the world being so shit at the moment. But, while it put a smile on my face while watching it, I can’t say it’s one that I’ll remember that well in a year. Again, it’s a good film for its genre but I’ve just seen too much of this genre… Sorry! I feel bad for not liking it more.

I should point out that it’s a true story, which is great. Here’s what Wikipedia says about that: “It was inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of the works of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor co-wrote the script, with Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. It is based on Manzoor’s 2007 memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll.” I like the true story & Manzoor seems like a nice guy and I can totally relate to being moved by music. I feel that way about music & movies. I can’t imagine life without them and this film helps show just how important art can be to people. Art can literally change a person’s life. This is a well-written film with a good story & likeable characters. I do wonder how much more I’d like it if it was based around an artist I love in the same way that Manzoor loves Springsteen. – 7/10

Boy – More quirky indie drama stuff! This one has more comedy thrown in, though. So it’s a quirky indie dramedy. It was a struggle to know how to rank all the movies I saw in April. I realise I’ve given my most common “good but didn’t blow me away” rating of 7/10 to the majority this month. The rankings don’t really matter but Boy is probably a better film than Blinded By The Light while Crimson Peak is admittedly probably the “worst” of the 7/10 films. But I rank on personal enjoyment. If you like quirky indie dramedy & Taika Waititi’s humor, you’ll like Boy. Like Jojo Rabbit, the kid actors are the best thing about the film (especially James Rolleston as Boy). Waititi plays the very unsympathetic father who suddenly come back into his kids’ lives. He’s funny as usual but also an asshole (you’re meant to feel this way about him, though). I of course appreciated that this was set in 1984 & it was cute that Boy was a big Michael Jackson fan. I also always appreciate a good coming of age film and likeable characters such as Boy and his little brother Rocky. It’s worth watching to see earlier work from Waititi. It’s probably most similar to Hunt For The Wilderpeople so I think you’ll like Boy of you liked that. I think I actually prefer Boy to that one. – 7/10

Rise Of The Guardians – I have to admit that I’m always a bit snobby about DreamWorks films. In comparison to Disney and especially Pixar & Studio Ghibli, DreamWorks’ films are just not as good (in my opinion, at least). I don’t like Shrek or How To Train Your Dragon to the degree that others do (Kung Fu Panda is probably my favorite, although I have yet to see Abominable which I did like the look of). So it may be because I went in with low expectations but I enjoyed Rise Of The Guardians. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still not as good as the output from those other studios but I liked the story as it felt quite original & having the connection to all the different holidays via Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, etc, was fun. But, meh, whatever. It’s still not going to be a favorite animated film. Like most DreamWorks movies, it’s a “one-time-watch” for me. – 7/10

Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨) (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) – I like a revenge movie & am a fan of quite a few South Korean films so expected to really like this one. I was very disappointed. Then again, I absolutely hated Park Chan-wook’s 2nd film in this “Vengeance Trilogy”, so I don’t know why I expected to like this one. Lady Vengeance is the third film, with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance being the first & that nasty Oldboy being the second. I definitely far preferred this to Oldboy, however, and liked the main character, Lee Geum-ja. From Wikipedia, the movie is about “a woman released from prison after serving the sentence for a murder she did not commit. The film tells her story of revenge against the real murderer“. The story was a decent enough revenge story but, as with Park Chan-wook’s other films I’ve seen, the characters are hard to like (although Lee Geum-ja is a far more sympathetic character than Oldboy dude). And her red eyeshadow was cool. I’d look like shit in red eyeshadow. Anyway, the film was okay. I was just hoping for it to be a bit better than it was… – 6.5/10

Three Identical Strangers – This was a fascinating documentary about triplets who were separated at birth & adopted by different families. They and their adoptive families were unaware of the other siblings. The story of how they later discovered each other was also great so I won’t spoil that here. Then, when you think this true story can’t get any more crazy, it goes in a completely unexpected direction. I don’t know why but I have to force myself to watch documentaries even though there are some great ones. This is a really good one & deserves a higher rating but I just enjoy fictional movies more. Weird, I know. But this story is almost stranger than fiction & I recommend it to the many people who do love good documentaries. Oh – the triplets got quite famous when their story first came out & it got them a cameo ogling Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan… (below) – 6.5/10

The Sun Is Also A Star – I read & liked this YA book by Nicola Yoon (my book review is HERE). It wasn’t exactly anything new and I read way too much YA but, whatever – it was an enjoyable enough read. The movie adaptation was pretty faithful. Except for the ending! Why do they change stuff?? Well, I guess the changed ending was okay. Also, they managed to make the girl a bit more likeable in the movie (she was kind of bitchy in the book). Meh. If you like YA romance, you’ll like this just fine. But as (almost) always, the book is better. – 6.5/10

Anna – Yeah, this movie is fucking ridiculous. And kind of creepy pervy (as to be expected from Luc Besson). I love how only gorgeous women can be spies in movies. And how they have to do a bunch of fighting in sexy heels & stockings. Surely it’s easier to kick ass in appropriate clothing?! And how they have to fuck everyone (in this movie, at least – fuck the good guy, fuck the bad guy, fuck the other sexy female model because of course our sexy spy is so sexy that she has to go undercover as a model…). So if you like sexy spy chick movies with lots of fucking, you’ll like this. Is it the best of this genre? Hell no! But it’s certainly not the worst either. It was far more enjoyable than that idiotic Red Sparrow movie and probably a bit better than Atomic Blonde (which was also fucking ridiculous but I kind of liked). Overall, I guess I kind of liked this one too. It was helped by the fact that Helen Mirren was in it. The original saucy minx! – 6.5/10

Isn’t It Romantic – What can I say? It was the start of lockdown & I watched any old shit in April. And this one ended up not being too bad. At least the idea behind it was fun. From Wikipedia: “The film stars Rebel Wilson as a woman who finds herself in a world where everything around her plays out like a clichéd PG-13 romantic comedy“. I liked the nods to those guilty pleasure chick flicks, like how Wilson wears the same outfit as Julia Roberts does in Pretty Woman (above). And, although not nearly as hot as brother Chris, Liam Hemsworth is a cutie. It won’t change your life but it’s a decent enough lazy Sunday afternoon romantic comedy. – 6/10

Dark Skies – This was fine for a horror about aliens. We’ve not had a horror movie involving aliens experimenting on us in a while. This sub genre was a big thing at one point! I’ve always found the alien abduction movies pretty effectively creepy & thought this movie was an okay example of this type of film. Maybe I liked it as the whole alien abduction thing really scared me as a young kid. I honestly thought I’d be abducted & experimented on. Seriously. I think I watched way too much old sci-fi and original Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I also like Keri Russell as an actress (love the film Waitress). The family were likeable (as far as horror movies go – it’s not the best genre for character development) & the story was fine & it was fairly creepy. Good enough. – 6/10

Rock Of Ages – Ugh. I fucking hated this. I’m probably being way too harsh on it since I guess it’s not the worst movie ever. But holy fuck is it cheesy!!! Okay, I was a teenager in the ’80s into early ’90s so I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t listen to Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Skid Row, Def Leppard, etc etc etc. All that cheesy hair metal! I liked all of it. But I feel the need to clarify that I preferred stuff like Metallica, Anthrax, AC/DC & Led Zeppelin at that same time, so don’t judge & assume that I only liked the more poppy hair metal like a lot of girls back then. The uglier the band, the better the actual music! 😉

Where was I?! Reminiscing. Man I feel so old now. So, yes, this music is seen as being very cheesy now & I admittedly haven’t listened to much of it since then whereas I still listen to stuff like Black Sabbath & Metallica. But it was accepted at the time and, let’s be honest, it seems damn good compared to the mainstream shit on the radio in 2020. But, while this music was very mainstream & most of the bands were too “pretty” to be fully taken seriously, they all lived that rock lifestyle to the fullest. God, the disgusting stories that Mötley Crüe must be able to tell! Sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what I expect from these bands. This film sucks all of the life out of these bands & how they lived. It pretends to have characters living that lifestyle, especially the ridiculously stupid Tom Cruise character, while the cast sing dreadful Glee-inspired versions of songs I once liked. I suppose I was expecting a fun look at that era but it instead felt like this was made by kids who didn’t live through that time. So I looked it up and the writers are the same sort of age as me. Really?! That’s surprising, as the movie doesn’t capture a love for that era and instead comes across as phoney. So, yeah – I wasn’t a fan of this film. Obviously. – 4.5/10

Rewatched:

Lady And The Tramp – Disney classic. Puppy Lady is adorable. The spaghetti scene rules. The Siamese cats are bitches. Not the best Disney film but that’s only because there are SO MANY great Disney films. Probably still within my Top 20. Oh yeah – I ranked the Disney films years ago on this blog (here). That’s so out of date! I think I’d change some now. I should update that sometime. Anyway, it looks like I ranked Lady And The Tramp at 14. – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I’ve linked my original review so don’t need to say much other than that I like these films (although this & the first one are much better than the final two). – 7.5/10

Yellow Submarine – Love this psychedelic weirdness! And I love The Beatles (as I mentioned in the Blinded By The Light review above). So I of course enjoy the music in this. I’ve always liked the imagery in this one as well. Fun animation & great music & weird as shit movie. They had great drugs in the ’60s. Nothing interesting gets made anymore. – 7.5/10

The Terminal – Rewatched this one as a family. The hubby has always really liked this movie (not sure why). Anyway, Tom Hanks is good as always and the story is unique. I always knew it was inspired by a true story but, holy shit, I just looked it up and the real guy lived in the airport for 18 years!!! That’s crazy. This is a fun, feelgood movie and Stanley Tucci is a total asshole in it. I still don’t understand why his character was so mean to Hanks! – 7/10

Just Go With It – So, yeah, my daughter is liking the silliness of the Adam Sandler movies so I’ve rewatched a lot of his stuff in the past year. This one is certainly not one of his best but at least it’s far better than his very worst (he does have some very bad ones!). This one is… Meh. He always has better chemistry with Drew Barrymore than with Jennifer Aniston. – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor II – I really liked the first EP, which I reviewed here, so was looking forward to the second EP coming out. Enjoyed Part II as well but Simmer is still by far the best song.

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – I started reading this in March & it took me months to finish as I just wasn’t able to concentrate on anything at that time. Liked it, though. I’ll maybe try to review it in my June roundup post, as I think that’s when I finally finished it…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Mandalorian – I’m not going to say much about this show as I’ll just ramble on forever. I adore this show (yes, The Child is THE reason why I love it so much). The Child is the pinnacle of cuteness. Nothing will top “Baby Yoda”. But, damn, it’s such a good show. It’s better than the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It’s made me like Star Wars again (not that I stopped, but I did find the recent films disappointing). And the score by Ludwig Göransson is BRILLIANT. Love it. And the artwork during the credits! Love everything about this show so far. I don’t have a bad thing to say about it.

The Golden Girls – I can’t even begin to tell you just HOW MUCH I loved watching this on Channel 5 during my working-from-home lunch breaks through lockdown. Seriously, it was the highlight of each weekday! And the show has aged well, to be honest. It’s still funny as hell. Love it and still love these ladies. Protect Betty White forever! But Channel 5 only aired 4 seasons. I’m still pissed off about that. Show the rest, Channel 5! Please!!!

The Masked Singer US – God this show was cheesy & stupid but also kind of… entertaining, I guess. I watched the U.K. one too. I was rubbish at guessing who anyone was. At least I’d heard of most of the stars in the U.S. one (except the sports stars). They really scraped the bottom of the barrel for the U.K. one! I’m not posting an image from this stupid show. Here’s The Mandalorian again…

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

I’m hoping to post the rest of my monthly roundup posts for May, June & July… If I get around to writing them.

Let’s listen to Ludwig Göransson’s awesome theme music for The Mandalorian:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2020

Hi all. Hope everyone is well & keeping safe.

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

MOVIES REVIEWED IN MARCH

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst)

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

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

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

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

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

Rewatched:

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUSIC, BOOKS, TV, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC LISTENED TO

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2020

Happy March everyone! I’m cold! February was worse than January for a change. And February’s movie releases were as disappointing as the weather. Here’s everything I watched & read & listened to in February...

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Parasite – 7.5/10
Little Women – 7/10
Jojo Rabbit – 7/10
Weathering With You – 7/10
1917 – 7/10
Long Shot – 7/10
Burning – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

The Gentlemen – I enjoyed this Guy Ritchie film. It’s good to see him back doing the “London gangster” type stuff since, quite frankly, it’s what he does best. I mean, WTF was Aladdin all about?! (Not that I’ve seen it – I’m boycotting Disney live-action remakes! But Aladdin looked especially rubbish). Lock Stock & Snatch are very enjoyable movies, though. If you’re a fan of those, I guarantee that you’ll like The Gentlemen as well. The only thing I’d say it has against it is that the story gets too convoluted. I think it’s trying too hard to be a little too clever at times. However, the characters are very strong & make up for the meandering plot. Matthew McConaughey is great & super cool as the powerful drug lord (well, it’s just marijuana so I don’t know if that exactly makes you a drug lord). I can’t believe how much I like McConaughey as an actor now after all the shitty rom-com stuff he did at first. Other standouts are Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, and surprisingly Colin Farrell and, even MORE surprisingly, Hugh Grant as a sleazeball you can’t help but kind of like. His & Farrell’s roles are a lot of fun, and I normally don’t like either actor. Farrell’s character seems the most “pointless” in a way but I’m glad they added him in anyway as he was fun to watch. There’s a lot of double crossing & back stabbing and it was nice not being able to predict what was going to happen every step of the way. As I said, though, the story was a little more messy than I’d have liked but overall I can’t complain as I got far more enjoyment from watching this than some of the dreary Oscar nominees in January. Oh, and they swear like absolute motherfuckers in this one. I love a good sweary movie. – 7/10

Onward – 7/10

The Call Of The Wild – I found this family-friendly film based on a classic American novel (that I never read – shame on me) very enjoyable as well. As I said, I never read the book so can’t compare it so I’m only speaking of my experience with the movie. It’s about a dog named Buck who is stolen from his family & sold to become a sled dog in Alaska during the time of the Gold Rush. Buck is a dog and who the hell doesn’t love a dog?! Plus there’s grumpy old Harrison Ford. Who the hell doesn’t love grumpy old Harrison Ford?! That’s all I needed to convince me to check this one out. And I’ll say once again that there are NOT enough “family films” being made these days (besides shitty live-action Disney remakes). We’re a household of big movie fans and it’s felt like we’ve had nothing to take our daughter to see in the cinema in months. Movies are either for adults or are too “kiddie” lately (being almost pre-teen she has no interest in those). She brought a friend to this & they both liked it and of course especially liked Buck. I’m assuming this is a toned-down version of the book and that there’s more focus on Buck feeling the “call of the wild” in the novel but, as a film, I think this does well to make you feel like you know Buck & what he’s thinking. The movie gets stronger once Ford plays a more active role later on. I’d have liked to know a little more of Ford’s backstory but they tell you enough to understand his character & his bond with Buck. It’s a lovely story & I’m sure it’s a very good book (just like Little Women, which I also never read). Damn. I really should’ve read more American classics as a kid & teen instead of just Stephen King. – 7/10

The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl – This was an odd one! I love Japanese anime & have been exploring more of it beyond just the Studio Ghibli stuff. I knew nothing about this one but liked the look of it from what I’d seen of images from it. I just realised in looking it up now that it’s from the same director, Masaaki Yuasa, as Lu Over The Wall (which I reviewed HERE). I’d say this one is the stronger film but both are fun & quite “cute”. Cute sounds kind of insulting but I can’t think of a better way to describe the animation style. Lu is aimed younger, though, while this one has a slightly more grown-up storyline involving romance, guys who keep losing their underwear, and drinking lots of alcohol. Honestly, the story is pretty damn weird at times & I have no idea how to go about reviewing this. But I like weird so I had fun watching it although I didn’t love it. If you like Japanese anime and if you like quirky movies, you might want to check this one out. – 6.5/10

Midnight Sun – Why do I watch so much YA romance bullshit? Oh yeah – Because I secretly like YA romance bullshit. Shh – Don’t tell anyone! This is an American remake of a Japanese film & I of course wanted to see the Japanese film instead. It’s about a teenage girl with xeroderma pigmentosum, which means she can’t ever go out into sunlight as it will kill her. But she’s a teenage girl & has had a crush on a neighbor boy who has gone past her window every day since they were kids. The boy is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son, FYI. But he’s no Terminator. The Terminator & Predator are WAY better movies than Midnight Sun. Obviously. Hell, Kindergarten Cop is better. Where was I?? Midnight Sun is fine as far as this weird subgenre of “dying teen romance” goes. But it’s got some of the most ridiculously cliché shit I’ve seen in a while, especially at the end. One cheesy bit at the end actually made me drop my overall score slightly. If you like this genre, it’s worth an easy watch as the two leads are likeable enough. But The Fault In Our Stars & especially Five Feet Apart are much better so I’d recommend those first. I also preferred Everything, Everything. Man – I watch too much of this genre… – 6/10

Uncut Gems – Had to check this out as everyone was raving about it on Twitter. And, once again, I’m wondering why the hell I listen to people on Twitter. I know it’s popular to hate Adam Sandler but I’ve never had a problem with him and do really enjoy SOME of his movies. It probably helps that he’s from my generation of Saturday Night Live (the years of my beloved Wayne’s World!!). I did also watch the Safdie Brothers’ film Good Time & really liked it so I was looking forward to Uncut Gems. I couldn’t get into this film at all. It’s honestly nothing but shouting & hateful characters the whole time. It gave me a headache. However, I agree with the general consensus that Adam Sandler is good in this. He is. It’s maybe worth a watch just to see him in a very different role. Maybe. I just wish the movie wasn’t so annoying. And I could’ve done without seeing up Sandler’s butthole. – 5.5/10

Birds Of Prey – Um. Ugh. Yikes. Damn… This was bad. Sorry! But what an absolute fucking mess of a film. And I wanted to like it. I really really did. To be fair, I’ve not really liked any of the DC movies other than Wonder Woman. Not being a fan in the first place probably didn’t help. I do think Margot Robbie is good as Harley Quinn but she was such a hateful character it was hard to really give a shit about her. She’s unhinged to the point of being silly instead of just being fun. The best thing about this movie was at the very end when the women team up & work together (then becoming the Birds Of Prey). So the reason for the title of the movie isn’t until the very end. I have to say that I’d find a movie about this group of female vigilantes FAR more interesting than this mess of a Harley Quinn story. The next movie should’ve been called Birds Of Prey as this one was really about Quinn with little development of the other female characters until the end. And I did like those characters, especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s. Maybe a spin-off Birds Of Prey movie wouldn’t suck as much. Even without the inclusion of Harley Quinn it could be okay. Meh. Waste of time. Worst movie I’ve gone to so far this year. – 5.5/10

Freeway – Wow. This was awful. I like Reese Witherspoon but had never seen this 1996 film with Kiefer Sutherland where he’s a creepy pervert serial killer & she’s a trashy juvenile delinquent. It’s apparently a dark satirical take on Little Red Riding Hood. I normally love dark humor (Heathers is a big favorite) but I can’t say I enjoyed Freeway at all. I do think Witherspoon is good, though. I knew she’d be a big star after seeing her in The Man In The Moon in 1991. She’s good in Freeway although it’s strange seeing her playing someone so trashy. If you want to see her saying all kinds of filthy shit, this movie is the one for you. It’s just one of those movies where everyone is so hateful that it’s hard to get any enjoyment out of it. For a far better satirical black comedy starring Witherspoon, I’d recommend Election instead of this one. – 4.5/10

Rewatched:

Pretty In Pink – Still love it. Of course – it’s a John Hughes film. – 8/10

BOOKS, MUSIC, TV, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

I actually listened to some NEW music in February. Shocking! I finally have access to a streaming service. Yeah, finally. What can I say? I’m old school. I still play CDs. So I finally have some music to talk about in this section. I’ll start with that. But I won’t rate or “review” music as I wouldn’t know how to go about doing that. Plus my musical tastes change way too often…

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Petals For Armor I by Hayley Williams – I mainly listened to this to get my daughter into Hayley Williams as she likes some Paramore. But, hell, I’m the one who ended up loving this EP (especially the song Simmer). The songs are unusual. Very grown-up (the kid liked Simmer but I don’t think the rest went down well). I’m now looking forward to this full album being released in May. I liked all the albums I listened to in February but my very favorite song from all of them is Simmer (I’ve put the video at the end of this post).

The Slow Rush by Tame Impala – I don’t have a lot to say about this as I’ve only listened to it once while working. I like Tame Impala so was looking forward to this. It’s super chilled. So, yeah – it was perfect while I was concentrating on working. Will give it more of a proper listen at some point. I’ll say I felt quite calm & relaxed that day so maybe it was good to not be blasting metal into my ears for a change.

Miss Anthropocene by Grimes – I admit it – I kind of like Grimes. I liked her before the whole Elon Musk thing when no one knew who she was. I even did a post about her for the Music Video Friday series I did for a while (Grimes post HERE. I really enjoyed that series…). Yeah, she’s fucking nutty. Yeah, I don’t like all of her songs and some of what she does is pretentious as shit. But I adore those two songs in that post I did & I happily listened to Miss Anthropocene as soon as she released it. I’ve listened to it quite a bit. I really like it, especially the songs Violence, 4ÆM, My Name Is Dark & You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around. I have to keep skipping Darkseid, though – what the fuck is that?!

Ordinary Man by Ozzy Osbourne – Of course I like this. I’ve loved Ozzy most of my life now. I have so much Black Sabbath & solo Ozzy stuff on various playlists that I don’t think a week ever goes by where I don’t hear his voice. Which is probably why I’ve only listened to this album a couple of times so far. I have loads of Ozzy already! Again, I’ve listened to this while working so I have to give it a proper listen some weekend. Liking it so far. But didn’t expect not to…

BOOKS READ

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira – Damn me & my annoying inability to stop reading YA books. I can’t help it – they’re simple reads! This one is about a teenage girl whose sister has died (we don’t know exactly how or why at the beginning). At school, she’s given an assignment to write to a famous person. She starts writing to various dead celebrities & the story is all told through her letters to them. She sorts out her feelings about her sister & her death as she writes mainly to people both she & her sister liked (Kurt Cobain & my beloved River Phoenix being two of the main ones). It’s a decent book. If you like YA stuff, it’s worth a read. I’ve read better but I’ve also certainly read worse. – 3/5

Currently Reading Dune by Frank Herbert. What the hell have I gotten myself into?! Crazy time to start something so heavy when I’m so damn busy. But one of my only New Year’s Resolutions this year was to finally read this before the new film comes out. I’m digging all, um, 32 pages I’ve managed to read so far…

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Picard – Have fallen so behind on watching this due to lack of time. Managed two episodes so far. Loving seeing my beloved Patrick Stewart as Picard again but not quite feeling this show yet. We’ll see. But nothing will ever live up to Star Trek: The Next Generation for me.

The Witcher – Watched the first episode of this. Will watch a couple more to see how I feel (but not sure when I’ll find the time!).

The Creeps – This Goosebumps-esque British kids’ show is SO up my alley. Watched a couple episodes with my daughter. I love eerie stories with a twist! I adored The Twilight Zone as a kid but I can’t convince mine to watch a black & white show from the 1950s with me. Damn. Guess we have The Creeps as a compromise. (It’s very tame, though. I’d prefer creepier).

Locke & Key – Can’t wait to watch this if I can ever find the time. I managed about ten minutes of the first episode. I’m intrigued. As Joe Hill is one of my favorite authors, I’ll definitely be watching it even though I’ve not read his graphic novel this show is based on.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I have no plans other than to hopefully continue posting these monthly roundups. But as I’m listening to music a bit more again, it got me thinking about how much I enjoyed my Music Video Friday series (I especially loved the Billy Idol post with Brian of Hard Ticket To Home Video). No one read the posts but I had fun reminiscing when putting them together. Maybe I’ll start posting those again sometimes. Or maybe at least a Song Of The Week post each Friday…

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Fantasy Island – This looks like it could be dreadful so I’ll probably wait to watch it on Netflix. Like all shitty horror movies… (I watch too many)

The Photograph – From IMDb, this is “A series of intertwining love stories set in the past and in the present.” Well, that’s vague. Could be good?

Onward – Seen it! A little disappointing for a Pixar movie but still better than most things made by other animation studios.

Escape From Pretoria – Not sure this is my type of thing. Will see if reviews are good. Still freaks me out that Daniel Radcliffe is a grown-up in movies now.

Military Wives – This looks so British. A Sunday afternoon Netflix flick…

Bacurau – The plot synopsis for this is intriguing. Is it horror?? Mystery?? Will wait to see if reviews are good.

Misbehaviour – Damn, I hate Keira Knightley but this looks interesting.

A Quiet Place Part II – Will definitely go to this as I liked the first film a lot.

The Jesus Rolls – I’m not bothered about this since, unlike most people, I wasn’t that into The Big Lebowski. Loved that rug, though.

Radioactive – I’m sure this will be worth watching but can wait for Netflix.

Mulan – I’ve been boycotting these rubbish Disney live-action remakes ever since that stupid Beauty And The Beast remake. But Mulan looks really good in the trailers… Hmm…

Vivarium – Love the sound of this movie but can’t stand Jesse Eisenberg.

Here’s the Hayley Williams song Simmer:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2020

January is over!! Thank fuck. I’m still taking a blog break this year but I’ll probably do these monthly roundups as I’m obviously not going to take a break from watching movies. I watched seven movies in January, five of those in the cinema. Being in the U.K., January means the release of a lot of the Oscar nominees so I saw a lot of “worthy” stuff last month. I think the Oscar nominees are very weak this year, though. None of them really blew me away. I’ll do mini-reviews of each below.

**Damn. Three of my mini-reviews ended up way too long. So I might as well post separate full reviews for the Best Picture nominees (Parasite, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit & 1917) over the next three days.**

Also, apologies as I was taking a blog break for my sanity (Ha! As if I’ll ever be sane). So I haven’t replied to some great comments in the past month. I’ll be catching up on replies this week. Thanks for putting up with my unreliability!

MOVIES IN JANUARY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Parasite – 7.5/10

Little Women7/10

Jojo Rabbit7/10

Weathering With You – I couldn’t believe it when I saw that there was going to be a showing of a Japanese anime film at my local cinema. Only one showing, though, I believe. And it was packed. Maybe they should show this stuff a bit more often? It clearly has a fanbase. This film is from Makoto Shinkai, who also directed 5 Centimetres Per Second, The Garden Of Words & the fantastic Your Name. I’ll be honest – I thoroughly enjoyed this movie (as I knew I would) & it was gorgeous like all of Shinkai’s films but I did think it was the weakest of what I’ve seen of his work. As a lot of his films, this is another YA romance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – YA romance will probably always be a guilty pleasure of mine (especially when it’s supernatural romance & pretty anime). Like Your Name, the story involves nature & the sky & it’s all very lovely but the teens are borderline annoying at times. These anime teenagers in love are so damn dramatic! But there are funny moments & sweet moments and, fuck it – it’s Japanese anime so I liked it because I’m a nerdy film snob. Here’s one extra image from the film since it’s so pretty… – 7/10

1917 – 7/10

Long Shot – This was surprisingly enjoyable and pretty goddamn funny. If I wasn’t such a pussy, I’d rank it above 1917 but I don’t want anyone to yell at me. Let’s be honest – Seth Rogen wouldn’t have a chance in hell with gorgeous Charlize Theron but they somehow managed to make this relationship fairly believable. And Theron was a real surprise doing the comedy. She’s done comedy before but I thought she was really good in this and the chemistry with Rogen did work. To be fair, they’re my sort of age so I’m the right target market for the film but I got some good laughs out of this movie & am glad I watched it as I don’t go for many comedies these days. I needed some laughs in this month of “dramatic Oscar nominees”. – 7/10

Burning – I’ve been absolutely desperate to see this South Korean movie for ages. When this came out in 2018, everyone claimed you’d like one of these 2018 foreign films: Roma, Cold War, Shoplifters, or Burning. Well, I’ve finally seen them all and have to say they were all pretty damn disappointing. I fully expected to adore Shoplifters as I love Japanese movies, but… Meh. Well, it might be my favorite of these. Here’s my ranking:

Shoplifters
Burning
Cold War
Roma

Yes, I’ll never understand the love for Roma. Anyway, I did like Burning even though it’s far too long. I knew it was a “slow burn” but, holy hell. Not everyone will have the patience to sit through this one & you aren’t really rewarded with answers if you do. However, I did like the film’s atmosphere & its look & the frustrating mystery. And yeah – I also like Steven Yeun (as Glenn was one of the only characters I liked in The Walking Dead, which I’ve finally stopped watching as it has sucked for years). But nothing really happens in this movie. As I said, I did like it okay & thought it was a decent piece of filmmaking but it would be very hard to recommend to anyone. It certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. – 6.5/10

Rewatched:

The Meg – Rewatched this movie with the kid. It’s obviously not a “good” movie but it’s fun. And the characters are more likeable than we usually get in these kind of films. Good enough for me! – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I made a New Year’s Resolution to read more worthy books (or at least not so much YA). Then I read this YA book. Oops. I’d been intrigued by this one for a while as I’d read that is has a great twist ending (Really?! Lies). I enjoyed the book but it’s a series & I’m not sure I have the energy to read the rest. It’s my favorite sort of YA (Dystopian! Woohoo!). The world is made up of those with silver blood & special powers and those with red blood & no powers, who are essentially slaves to the silver bloods. There’s of course a love triangle (actually, it’s four people so it’s whatever you’d call that. THREE guys like the main chick. WTF). It’s a decent enough story but I can’t say it feels all that original as there are soooo many YA novels in this genre now. I’d like to know how it ends but maybe I’ll wait to see if they just do a film adaption of all the books. – 3/5

Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar – I enjoyed the first short novel, Gwendy’s Button Box, which Chizmar wrote with Stephen King so I figured I’d read this short sequel. It’s fine but you could tell the difference with King not writing this one as well. Not that it matters – it just certainly had far less “horror” than King’s stories. The story in this sequel is more straightforward & not as much strange stuff happens. I like the strange stuff, which is why I like King, so I definitely prefer the first book. But Chizmar did well with the character, who I liked in the first book, so it was good to find out more about what happened to her later in life. Worth a read if you read & liked the first one but don’t expect nearly as much stuff to happen in the sequel. The button box itself seemed a bit pointless in this book (and it’s a pretty cool box). – 3/5

Now Reading: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James & Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira (YA. Oops.)

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Star Trek: Picard – I’m a MASSIVE Star Trek: The Next Generation fan so I was of course super excited about this show. Love Patrick Stewart! I’ve only managed to watch the first episode so far, which was fine. Will see how the rest go. I badly want to see more TNG characters on this show…

The Middle – Wanted a simple, short sitcom to watch with the family. I recommended this as I’d seen a couple of seasons when it was first on & I liked it. Happy to say that my daughter loves it! It’s great to have a fun family sitcom to veg out to. They make so few of them now. Nothing is made with families in mind these days. I like the show as I think it’s a very realistic portrayal of a normal, slightly fucked-up, poor & struggling family in the American Midwest. I can relate to more of it than my British family, though. Reminds me of growing up in the same part of America.

Watchmen – I read Alan Moore’s Watchmen years ago & did enjoy it. I wasn’t a big fan of the 2009 film. It was okay – I should probably watch it again sometime. Oh man, though – I’m not sure how I felt about this TV series. It’s just… not Watchmen. There were things I liked about it. The story was okay, the characters were interesting, and I’m impressed that they played part of Devo’s Mongoloid in an episode. Oh, and a Howard Jones song too. Yay 80s! But. I dunno. It’s not Watchmen. The only thing it really accomplished was making me want to read the far superior graphic novel again. I think I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. I’d had zero experience reading graphic novels/ comic books & Watchmen was probably a pretty heavy one for me to start on. Not that I’ve read any more since… (Other than Tank Girl). Yeah, I’ll read Watchmen again someday. I’ll never watch this TV “sequel” thing again, though.

The Masked Singer (UK) – I hate myself for watching this shit. But it’s something braindead to stick on to pass the time with the family. Not being from the UK originally & having very little knowledge of the mainstream shit that people like or sports, I’ve not known some of the “celebrities” unmasked so far. Think they had far bigger stars for the US one??

Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer – I’m about halfway through watching this. It’s certainly an intriguing story but I’m not sure why I’m watching it as I’m not at all into the “true crime” thing like so many people seem to be. I don’t want to know about these psychos. It makes me sick. That’s why I watch fictional stuff. But it’s certainly worth a watch if this kind of thing floats your boat. The guy is an absolute nutjob. The most interesting thing to me has been seeing how a group of people on the Internet were the ones trying to hunt this psycho down.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Nothing planned! And I actually have no way to watch the Oscars this year for the first time, um, ever? So I have no plans to do any Oscar posts besides posting my reviews for Parasite, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit & 1917 this week. Hell, maybe I’ll also reblog my reviews of the other nominees as I’ve watched & reviewed every Best Picture nominee this year other than The Irishman (It’s too long! I have no time!).

Upcoming February Movies Releases:

Parasite – Saw this. Will post the full review this week.

Underwater – Could be fun or it could be total shit? May wait for Netflix.

Birds Of Prey – Meh. I never really enjoy the DC shit & I think this looks awful from the trailer. Maybe I’ll go to it if reviews are good.

The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle – Ohh. Bad reviews!! Will wait for Netflix.

Daniel Isn’t Real – Shitty horror? I watch way too much shitty horror. But this stars Mary Stuart Masterson! So I might check it out.

Fantasy Island – More shitty horror! Again, I’ll probably watch it but will wait for Netflix if reviews are really bad.

Emma – Meh. Another “wait for Netflix” film. How many Hollywood adaptations of the same stories do we really need??

The Call Of The Wild – Grumpy old Harrison Ford & a dog? Sounds okay to me.

Like A Boss – Meh. Shitty comedy can wait for Netflix too.

Brahms: The Boy II – Not gonna lie: I really liked The Boy. It had a cheesy ’80’s horror feel to it. And I love creepy dolls! So I’ll watch the sequel at some point.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Wow, this has a high rating on IMDb. Looks a bit “worthy”, though. I’ve had enough of “worthy” films for a while.

Color Out Of Space – I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BAD!!! 1. It’s directed by Richard Stanley, who directed a huge favorite film of mine (the criminally underrated Hardware). 2. It’s an H.P. Lovecraft story. 3. It stars Nicolas Cage doing yet another weird-ass looking film. If it’s half as strange as Mandy, I’ll be very happy. But I’m unlikely to be able to easily see it since non-mainstream movies are very hard to get hold of…

Wendy – Know nothing whatsoever about this but the plot synopsis sounds okay.

As I mentioned Devo in the Watchmen TV show, here’s the song. Devo deserve more recognition.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2019

Happy January! Here’s the stuff I watched & read in December. I’ll soon post my Top Ten Of 2019 lists and then I’ll be taking a long break from blogging. I may only do these monthly roundup posts this year. Will see how I feel in a few months. One of my resolutions this year is to watch fewer movies (at home, anyway). I watch too much shit!

MOVIES IN DECEMBER 2019

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – 7.5/10
Jumanji: The Next Level – 7.5/10
Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari) – 7.5/10
Knives Out – 7.5/10
Five Feet Apart – 7.5/10
Support The Girls – 6/10
Marriage Story – 5.5/10
The Knight Before Christmas – 5.5/10
Destination Wedding – 5/10
Brittany Runs A Marathon – 5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

El Topo – Been putting off watching this for years so finally watched it as part of my Blind Spot project. It’s as bizarre as I was expecting and I always appreciate that. I can’t say it’s exactly a good film but it’s certainly interesting. I’m glad I finally watched it. I may try to do mini-reviews of my 2019 Blind Spot movies when I publish my post of ratings & rankings for them all next week. – 7.5/10

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – 7.5/10

Jumanji: The Next Level – 7.5/10

Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari) – 7.5/10

Knives Out – 7.5/10

In This Corner Of The World – This is a good anime movie which focuses on one young woman’s struggles during WWII Japan. Obviously, it’s a serious movie so it’s best to be in the right sort of mood if you watch it (certainly don’t do it as a double feature with Grave Of The Fireflies). I watched several anime movies in 2019 so may do a short post about all of them next week. – 7/10

Paris, Texas – This was another Blind Spot choice of mine. It was good but a little disappointing, although I still love Harry Dean Stanton and he was fantastic in the film. Will try to post about it next week. – 7/10

Five Feet Apart – 7.5/10

Big Fish & Begonia – Another anime film but this one was more my type of thing (fantasy & weirdness instead of a dreary war drama). It wasn’t as good as In This Corner Of The World, although my enjoyment will have been hampered by having to watch a version dubbed in English as it’s all I had. I far prefer to see anime in its original language as it loses some of the magic when in English. This movie was fine. It doesn’t measure up to the Ghiblis, though, despite having a similar sort of fantastical story. But nothing measures up to Studio Ghibli… – 6.5/10

Shoplifters – I was desperate to see this Japanese film after everyone raved over it in 2018 (along with Roma, Cold War, and Burning). I’ve now seen all but Burning & all have been a disappointment, although I liked Shoplifters okay. Roma was boring as hell. Maybe Burning will be the one I like?? Anyway – As I said, Shoplifters was okay but I can’t see the reason for such rave reviews. The young girl was cute and the young boy was good but, overall, the characters were weak and the movie didn’t make you care all that much about them (well, maybe the two youngest ones). I just expected a really emotional film from what I’d read so I was disappointed to not care about the characters much and to find the movie a little bit boring. Oh well. – 6.5/10

Climax – So. I finally saw this “shocking film”. To be honest, it’s not as shocking Gaspar Noé’s Love & certainly sounds nowhere near as shocking as what I’ve read about Irreversible (I’ll never watch that). This was fine. It’s about a group of dancers who drink a spiked drink and they all start hallucinating and all either get very violent or horny. Everyone is pretty hateful, just like in Love. And everyone is pretty pretty. And young. Sofia Boutella is the only decent character – she was good in this. It’s not a long movie but felt like I was watching these people lose their minds for HOURS. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it either. Meh. At least it’s a memorable film. Far preferred it to Love, at least. – 6/10

Thunder Road – This was an odd one. A very indie film (I’m not sure what movies fulfill the indie definition anymore) about a guy having a breakdown after the death of his mother and his marriage falling apart and a custody battle taking place. It starts with his mother’s funeral, which was good in a dark comedy sort of way as the guy makes an embarrassing mess of his speech. But the character was too unstable and a little too quirky-indie-weird and a bit too unlikeable to make me really give a shit. And his ex was a bitch. I did think people were pretty shitty to him, other than his cop partner, so I did feel a little sorry for him. It looks like the funeral bit was first a short film? That was probably decent as it was the best bit. I can see some people really liking this movie if they buy into the character but it just didn’t quite work for me as a film overall. The ending was good. If you watch it, bear in mind that it’s mostly a drama with some dark humor (I like dark humor). I can me see liking this guy in the right kind of movie, though. He does a good job and is nerdy-cute (Jim Cummings – he’s also the director & writer of the film). It looks like he has done a lot of short films. I can see him doing very well in bigger budget films playing similar characters, but in smaller roles. Such as “quirky best friend” or “quirky neighbor”. As a main character for the whole movie, he’s a bit too much to take. But Cummings is on the right track & I see he has a lot of upcoming projects. – 6/10

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – I can’t really review this as, in all honesty, we put it on to watch and then all fucked around on our phones the whole time so I missed a hell of a lot. But, hey – if it was really good I’d have paid more attention. It didn’t even keep the kid’s attention. I do think the Dragon films are probably the best from DreamWorks but I’m just not a DreamWorks fan. I’m a Disney & Pixar snob. I don’t even really like Shrek. I missed out on Abominable this year, though, and the family tell me that will easily be my favorite from DreamWorks as it’s much more my type of thing. Well, damn! I’ll check that out when I can. As for The Hidden World, I’ll give it an average rating since these movies are still better than most the stuff made by DreamWorks. And the ending was cute. The first film is just by far the best of the three. – 6/10

Marriage Story – 5.5/10

The Knight Before Christmas – 5.5/10

Oldboy – Wow. Wow. I’ve been meaning to watch this for years as it’s in the IMDb Top 250 & has a very high rating. I fucking hated it. Maybe I’ll try to do a very short review next week when I do a post with all the Top 250 movies I watched this year. I’m giving it an extra half a point, though, for having the audacity to go with THAT horrific twist. Bloody hell. It took some balls to say “Fuck it – let’s do this sick fucking thing!”. And this movie was remade? Did they change that storyline?!? I fucking hope so. – 5/10

Destination Wedding – 5/10

Re-Watched:

Scrooged – I love this movie. It may be my favorite Christmas movie (although it rotates between my top five, depending on my mood). I’m a big fan of the Dickens story (Well, I’ve not actually read it 😉 ) and I love that there are so many adaptations of it. Scrooged is my favorite of the “alternative” modern adaptations. Murray is hilarious in it, although I’m starting to think he’s an asshole in movies too often. But I guess that’s why he’s so perfect in this role. I love that it’s also heartwarming without being over-the-top saccharine thanks to all the dark humor throughout it. Sometimes all the heartwarming Christmas movies can be a bit too much. Which is why I also love Christmas Vacation… (link below, as I’ve already reviewed that in full). I may prefer Christmas Vacation. Maybe I’ll flip them around. I can’t decide. “Shitter was full!” beats all of Scrooged. – 8.5/10

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Love it. – 8.5/10

Elf – I love this movie too. I think it’s one of the only Christmas movies from recent years to come anywhere near “Christmas classic” status. I still think of it as recent even though it’s going on 16 years old. WTF?! When did that happen?!?! It’s a NEW movie! Fuck. I’m old. I’m so so old. Anyway – Elf rules. Maybe I’ll give it a higher score someday. I just didn’t grow up with it like the others. It’s too NEW. But it’s funny as hell. And it’s adorable. I’ve probably seen at least part of it every Christmas for years now & it always makes me smile. Honestly, it’s as good as my ’80’s Christmas “classics”. I’m just a sucker for those since I was still a teen when those came out. Fuck. I’m so old. Okay, I’ve convinced myself to raise my score half a point to 8. It’s the newest Christmas classic. – 8/10

Miss Congeniality – Watched both this & Legally Blonde with the kid recently & am loving re-visiting stuff like this with her as she gets older. Really enjoy both films and still love both Witherspoon & Bullock. Unfortunately, both movies haven’t aged as well as I was hoping. But they’re still fun. Silly but fun. We don’t really get these sort of “chick flicks” very often anymore. Where did this genre go? I like these (occasionally). Everything is too damn serious now. The world needs more lighthearted comedy! Before we all die in WWIII. – 6.5/10

Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery – First, I have to say that I adore Mike Myers. I fully & with no shame admit that Wayne’s World is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s fucking hilarious & doesn’t get enough credit. If I could hang out with two movie characters, it would probably be Wayne & Garth. Myers was always great at creating characters. Wayne is brilliant. And I realize I moaned about Shrek in this same post but Shrek himself is the best thing about Shrek – I just don’t like DreamWorks or the overall Shrek movies but Myers is great as always. Austin Powers is similar in that he’s a great creation but the movies themselves aren’t great. Same for Dr. Evil – a really good character in “just okay” movies. Hell, I even like Fat Bastard! He’s probably not for everyone, though. So, Mike Myers is what really makes the Austin Powers movies enjoyable. Okay, Myers and all the sexual innuendos. But I’ve never loved the Austin Powers movies as much as others seem to. Maybe it doesn’t help to very much NOT be a James Bond fan?? These movies are fun but Wayne’s World is my thing. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

I finished all of Full Throttle by Joe Hill in December. It’s a collection of short stories and I love his (and his dad Stephen King’s) short story collections. This one was great but Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts collection was my favorite – that one was brilliant. I’ll try to review Full Throttle story by story at some point. 3.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – I loved this!!! I’d never ever seen this 1977 Jim Henson short TV movie. My beloved Jim Henson Muppets in a TV special from my beloved Seventies?! I was pretty much guaranteed to love this. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to see it! It’s on Amazon Prime UK, FYI. It’s mostly Muppets you’ve never seen, although Kermit has a small part. But they’re Henson Muppets in every way and if you love The Muppets, you’ll love this. I highly recommend this if, like me, you never saw it as a kid. – 8.5/10

Watchmen – Still halfway through watching these. Still can’t decide how I feel, although I’m enjoying watching something that’s far more interesting than most of the shit that gets made now. Will see how I feel after seeing them all and knowing if it has too much of an agenda.

Parks & Recreation – Wanted a short, lightweight comedy to stick on every once in a while. I’ve watched maybe 4 episodes now? So far, this fits the bill. It’s funny but a bit forgettable. It’s not a show where I’d re-watch any episodes after seeing them. I hear Joy from Inside Out the entire time I’m watching it, though. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I adore that movie.

BLOG PLANS FOR JANUARY

As I said, I’m going to take a break from blogging after posting all my 2019 Top Ten lists. I want to watch far fewer movies at home, more movies in the cinema (I need to make use of my Unlimited card), and read more quality books (main priority for 2020 is to finally read Dune).

I just don’t want to spend much time blogging or tweeting anymore. It’s kind of depressing. Especially Twitter, which is full of angry people moaning and is only good these days for Baby Yoda gifs (which I would happily watch 24/7). But I may still do these monthly roundup posts because my head might explode if I never ever blather on & on about movies anymore. No one at work talks to me and I certainly can’t talk about some of the non-mainstream stuff I watch with boring, normal, real-life people anyway. “Hey, colleagues! How was your weekend? I watched El Topo!”. This is why I have no real-life friends. So thank you for still being here, Internet weirdos! Feel free to talk to me about movies or share Baby Yoda gifs. WWIII may be on the way but it’s okay as we’ve reached the pinnacle of cuteness with Baby Yoda. It’s all downhill from here.

January Movies I Want To See If The World Hasn’t Ended:

Jojo Rabbit – Seen it. It was just… Okay?

The Gentlemen – Whatever. But Henry Golding is in it & he’s adorable.

1917 – Suppose I should watch this as it’s the most likely Best Picture Oscar contender, right? But I always have to force myself to watch war movies.

Bombshell – Meh. Again, may watch it for the likely Oscar nominations but I’m not that bothered.

Bad Boys For Life – May be an okay popcorn movie but I won’t cry if I miss it.

Waves – Looks depressing?

Weathering With You – Hell yeah! It’s anime and actually getting some UK cinema showings!!! My ticket is already booked. From the same director who did Your Name.

The Turning – Oh man, I seriously need to read that The Turn Of The Screw story. Off to the library I go!

The Lighthouse – Can’t wait to see if this is “indie good” or “indie pretentious bore”.

Richard Jewell – Interested in the story but will probably wait for Netflix.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood – Finally coming out in the UK. Will check this one out.

Queen & Slim – Maybe. If a showtime works out, but I bet it’ll disappear from cinemas quickly.

The Rhythm Section – Looks intriguing but also looks like it could be good or very bad. I was going to read the book last year. Guess I should have.

As we got the final movie in the Star Wars Skywalker Saga in December, let’s celebrate the absolute genius of John Williams. Here’s Rey’s theme, which is my favorite piece from this trilogy.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2019

Happy New Year, everyone!

I never did my November Roundup post. So just to complete my 2019 posts, here’s what I watched & read in November 2019. I’ll try to post my December Roundup within the next few days. I’ll then do my 2019 Top Ten Lists next week before taking a blog break for 2020.

NOVEMBER 2019 MOVIES

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Judy – 7.5/10
Hustlers – 7.5/10
Joker – 7.5/10
The Farewell – 7.5/10
Frozen 2 – 7/10
I Am Mother – 7/10
Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10
Last Christmas – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Miss Hokusai – I really enjoyed this anime film about Katsushika Ōi, artist & daughter of critically acclaimed artist Katsushika Hokusai (famous for The Great Wave off Kanagawa). The film has lovely animation and strong characters. I’ll try to review it at some point as it’s probably my favorite non-Ghibli anime that I’ve watched recently. – 7.5/10

Frozen 27/10

3 Idiots – I didn’t manage to watch all my 2019 Blind Spot movies but did watch 12 movies for my IMDb project. This is one of them so I’ll do a short post with all 12 sometime. I enjoyed this but don’t think it’s Top 250 material, although the second half is much better than the first. – 7/10

Last Christmas – 6.5/10

Support The Girls – 6/10

Locke – This was surprisingly boring. I remember being annoyed at missing out on this one in the cinema as it got really good reviews. It’s Tom Hardy in a car talking on the phone the whole time. It may have been better if he didn’t have some weird ass accent through the whole thing (maybe that’s how he really talks? Ha! Dunno). Anyway, it wasn’t terrible but it certainly wasn’t great and the character was a bit hateful, which sucks when he’s the only damn character in the movie. But I give them credit for managing to make a whole movie about a guy driving in his car… – 6/10

Brittany Runs A Marathon – 5/10

Re-Watched:

Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Thanksgiving classic! Finally watched this with the kid as I have to make sure she sees some of the American traditions, etc. Think she liked it but it’s still a slightly more grownup comedy. The ending still makes me feel a little weepy. Loved John Candy (and of course John Hughes). 😦 – 7.5/10

Legally Blonde – I’m obviously revisiting films with the kid as she gets older. She liked this one (and a new one is coming out this year??). I’ll always be a fan of Reese Witherspoon & she’s adorable as shit in Legally Blonde. Jennifer Coolidge is also as funny as always. The movie is silly but it’s fun and has a decent message. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS

BOOKS READ

I read The Institute by Stephen King & half of Full Throttle by Joe Hill. Full Throttle is a short story collection, including two stories he wrote with his father (one being In The Tall Grass, which I reviewed HERE). I love both King & son Hill’s short story collections so I slightly preferred Hill’s collection to The Institute. But I of course very much enjoyed both and will read everything either of them write. I was unfortunately quite disappointed with the recent King book The Outsider so was very happy to get a better novel this time (even if the story is extremely familiar Stephen King territory). I may try to review these in full at some point (or at least Full Throttle as I like to discuss each story). – 3.5/5 (for both)

TV SHOWS WATCHED

None, as usual lately. However, I did manage to finally watch some stuff in December and am halfway through Watchmen. Not sure how I feel about that one yet.

MUSIC POSTS

I did a music post in November for the first time in years! Here are My Top Ten Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs.

BLOG PLANS FOR DECEMBER

My plan was to catch up on reviewing December movie releases & preparing my Year End Top Ten lists. But I haven’t yet & it’s now 2020. Oops. At least I caught up on reviewing most 2019 movies.

December Movies I Wanted To See:

I did see a couple. Links are below.

Jumanji: The Next Level – Saw it. Kind of loved it.

Black Christmas – Now kind of wish I hadn’t missed this as reviews are SO bad but they seem to be from people not liking the politics of this version? So I’d like to judge it for myself.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – Saw it. Wanted to love it more.

Cats – HA! Think I dodged a bullet missing out on this one.

Spies In Disguise – Forgot about this one. Think I can live without it.

Little Women – I’m weirdly not bothered about this one now that it’s out. There have been so many adaptations already. I’m also not on the Greta Gerwig bandwagon with everyone else. Plus, Emma Watson is in this. Can’t stand her.

Here’s a trailer for Miss Hokusai. I recommend it if you’re an anime fan.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2019

Happy (middle of) November! As I did October Horror Month again this year, I only reviewed horror movies in October. However, I did watch some non-horror throughout the month as well. As most of my horror reviews were reposts & reblogs, I’m only listing those below that I reviewed for the first time in October. (The Princess Switch feels very out of place in this list!)

MOVIES IN OCTOBER

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10
Doctor Sleep – 8/10
Ready Or Not – 7/10
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10
Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10
The Legacy – 6/10
The Addams Family – 6/10
Shocker – 5.5/10
The Stuff – 5/10
In The Tall Grass – 4/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Yojimbo – I bought an Akira Kurosawa boxset years ago and have been meaning to get around to watching more of his work as I love what I’ve seen so far. Ikiru & Rashômon are brilliant and Seven Samurai is a masterpiece. Yojimbo is also in the IMDb Top 250 so I might review it as part of my Top 250 Project. I was hoping to instead devote a couple of weeks to Akira Kurosawa on my blog but I think my blogathon days are over. I really enjoyed Yojimbo, even though I’d already seen the same story in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars. Which, apparently, didn’t originally credit Kurosawa & the other writer Ryūzō Kikushima. Naughty! (There was a lawsuit). Anyway, both films are great as the story is so damn good. I of course have to go with Yojimbo as it’s definitely the superior film but can see why it was made into a spaghetti western since the story was just as perfect in that setting. I highly recommend Kurosawa’s films to anyone who hasn’t seen any. Maybe I’ll manage to review his movies someday but I sure I wouldn’t be able to do them justice. – 8/10

Doctor Sleep – 8/10

The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince) – As this is sort of a pre-Studio Ghibli film, I’ll try to do a full review of it at some point. I adore Studio Ghibli. This was made by Ghibli co-founders Isao Takahata (director) & Hayao Miyazaki (scene design & key animation). It’s a much older film, released in 1968 (17 years before the founding of Ghibli). However, it certainly shows the beginnings of the Ghibli style and has some of that great magical fantasy vibe that Miyazaki perfected in his Ghibli years. It’s not perfect but I enjoyed it and would say I liked it more than some of the non-Ghibli anime I’ve tried. I guess I just love Miyazaki’s style. The characters aren’t as strong as in Ghibli movies and it doesn’t have the beautiful weirdness of the Ghiblis but it’s a promising start and a fun story. – 7.5/10

Judy – 7.5/10

Joker – 7.5/10

Ready Or Not – 7/10

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10

Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10

Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10

The Princess Switch – This was fine. My daughter had watched & liked it so I agreed to watch it with her one night. It’s a wholesome chick flick that’s predictable as F*^K but it won’t do anyone any harm. My daughter was amazed when I predicted the ending within the first ten minutes. Poor kid – I told her that her mom just watches many movies so tends to know how these sort of plots go. She probably thinks I’m a pain in the ass. Anyway, I sort of liked this predictable cheese. We all need some predictable cheese sometimes. And I’m not gonna lie – I’m SO going to be watching The Princess Switch: Switched Again when that comes out. And if there’s a surprise ending that I don’t predict within the first ten minutes, I’ll want my money back. – 6.5/10

The Addams Family – 6/10

The Legacy – 6/10

Shocker – 5.5/10

The Stuff – 5/10

In The Tall Grass – 4/10

Re-Watched:

Wayne’s World – I’m not going to do a mini-review for this movie. If I ever do review this, it needs a full post. This movie is and always will be an all-time favorite of mine. It speaks to me. It’s from my era, set close to where I grew up, I love the same music they do, I knew people exactly like Wayne & Garth, and it’s one of very few movies that I truly find funny. Okay – and I am the female equivalent of Garth Algar. I was a metal-loving, socially awkward nerd who could never talk to my crushes. I had similar hair. And I still wear Converse at all times (well, outside of work). This is the movie that I quote more than any other. I think it’s brilliant and if you badmouth it, you’re on my Shitlist and we can’t be friends. Anyway – I watched this once again the other day as my daughter loves it. She also loves Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. YES! Believe me – she doesn’t just humor me as she dislikes plenty of favorites from my teenage years. I take it as proof that these two films are timeless classics. Yes, I’m serious. Wayne’s World is a comedy classic. It deserves more love. – 9/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Holy SHIT it’s never taken me so long to finish a book. It took months. What a slog. To be honest, it’s a good book. I suppose. At least, the story itself was good. It just honestly didn’t need to be so long. I wouldn’t have minded if the characters were more likeable but, after THAT many pages, you’d think you’d connect with or at least care about the main character. I can’t say that I cared although I did feel a little sorry for him & what he’d been through. His time in Las Vegas especially dragged. Good god. Luckily his friend Boris was highly entertaining, which helped keep me going along with wanting to find out what the hell was gonna happen with The Goldfinch painting. Apparently the movie was boring as hell too according to reviews. That’s a shame, as I think there’s enough content here to make a decent film. – 3/5

In The Tall Grass by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 2/5

Currently Reading The Institute by Stephen King – I’m really enjoying this one so far. I’ll probably be finished by the time this posts so I’ll review it soon.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Er, The Walking Dead has started up again. I watched an episode. Or did I watch two? Hard to keep track since nothing ever happens in this fucking show anymore. I know I need a new show to watch but don’t have the time to devote to anything new. What I miss are half hour sitcoms. Why don’t they make sitcoms these days?! I watch worthy enough films – I want lightweight TV so I can switch off my brain. But NOT reality bullshit. A good old sitcom like Seinfeld. Or Friends. Yeah, I like Friends – I’m not one of these anti-Friends snobs! Anyone have any recommendations??

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

November already?! Shit. I’m not ready for Christmas. It’ll be a quiet month on the blog as I’ll be too busy to do many posts. I’ll try to do a post for my 7-year blogiversary at the end of the month.

November Releases I May Want To See: (wow – a lot coming out!)

Brittany Runs A Marathon – Meh. Definitely one to wait for on Netflix.

The Aeronauts – This one looks… Odd. As in, it may be brilliant or it may be a steaming pile of shit. Can’t call it from the trailer.

Midway – War stuff. I’ll probably wait for Netflix. Never a favorite genre of mine, although I’ve loved a few war movies.

The Good Liar – Oh, this looks exciting from the trailer! I do love Helen Mirren & Ian McKellen. Proper ACTORS! Want to see this. (It’s out now. Damn – reviews aren’t good).

Luce – Don’t know much about this. Looks like it may be another one to wait for on Netflix.

Driven – Another one I don’t know anything about. Meh.

Le Mans ’66 – Is this seriously called Ford v Ferrari in America?? That’s a better name. Doesn’t really look like my type of thing but the trailer does look good. Want to see this.

Last Christmas – I’m not a big girly movie girl but do enjoy these kind of films when they’re decent. Plus this has the hot husband from A Simple Favor & Crazy Rich Asians. I’d be a liar if I said I had no interest in seeing this. Looks fun. (This is out now too and also has bad reviews. Damn!!)

Little Monsters – Another zombie comedy horror?? I’ll definitely watch this as it’s a sub genre I really enjoy. Sad to see the reviews aren’t the best.

The Report – I’m sure this will be decent but these kind of dramas are SO not my thing. I tend to only watch them if they end up being nominated for lots of Oscars.

Frozen II – Oh, I’ll definitely go to this. I happily admit that I still think Frozen is great. My daughter is getting to the age where she’s pretending she has no interest in going to see Frozen II. Think she’s slowly changing her mind…

Greener Grass – And another I know nothing about. I need to watch some trailers. It says it’s a comedy so, who knows? I hate most modern comedies.

21 Bridges – Cop drama? Again, not really my thing. Will see what reviews are like.

Judy & Punch – Maybe a Netflix watch.

Ophelia – Again, one for Netflix but would like to check out Daisy Ridley’s performance.

Knives Out – This is the one I’m most looking forward to in November. Hope it’s great! Love the star power in it.

Charlie’s Angels – Meh. May wait for Netflix. Give me Drew Barrymore instead!

Jay And Silent Bob Reboot – I’m middle-aged. I’ll of course watch this Kevin Smith film.

The Nightingale – A horror from the director of the brilliant The Babadook?? DEFINITELY want to see this.

I’ll end this post with with Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I thought Judy was a great film and I’m very glad I watched it.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2019

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

MOVIES IN SEPTEMBER

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

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

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

It Chapter Two – 7.5/10

Hustlers – 7.5/10

The Farewell – 7.5/10

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

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – 7/10

I Am Mother – 7/10

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

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

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

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

Rewatched:

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

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

BLOG PLANS FOR OCTOBER

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

October Releases I Wanted To See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2019

Happy Almost-End-Of September! Where did August go?! I spent half of it in America & half of it mega busy with work but still managed to watch some movies (Six on airplanes – What the hell else can you do on a plane?!). Here’s what I watched & read in August…

MOVIES IN AUGUST

I saw Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood while in America & Crawl in the UK (links to my reviews are below). I also saw four 2019 UK movie releases on the plane trips so reviewed those in a separate post (also linked below). I’ve done mini-reviews of the rest…

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – 7.5/10


Green Book – 7.5/10


Sorry To Bother You – This movie was a little mental but, overall, fairly entertaining. It’s very hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it and also one that’s absolutely impossible to recommend to anyone unless you know their tastes really well. Now, I absolutely love “weird” movies. The problem here is that it’s not weird enough. It’s quite straightforward through most of it – it only suddenly gets weird at the end (think From Dusk Till Dawn). I’d have liked more weirdness. Strangely, it gave me Joe Versus The Volcano vibes, though I have NO idea why (but only during scenes set in the dreary workplace office). It just reminded me that I badly need to rewatch that underrated film… But where was I? I’m getting off track! I have no idea how to review this film. I enjoyed it but it’s one where I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. The strongest thing about it are the characters and I especially liked Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Steven Yeun (probably because his character Glenn was one of very few characters that I actually liked in The Walking Dead). Oh, and I loved Tessa Thompson’s funky earrings and cool sort of 80’s style. How did I not even realize that the smarmy guy was Armie Hammer? He just has such a nondescript smarmy face. Well, I liked this movie as a one-time watch and won’t forget it. It wasn’t perfect and didn’t fully work for me but it’s the kind of indie movie I’d like to see more of: Creative & highly original instead of just boring navel-gazing and hateful characters (I’m looking at you, Eighth Grade movie!). – 7/10


The Hate U Give – This was a fairly decent look at a very serious issue, albeit from a very YA perspective. I’d been thinking about reading the Young Adult novel first but never got around to it, so I can only judge this based on the movie itself. It’s certainly no Boyz N The Hood but I see no problem with raising awareness by aiming a story at a slightly younger audience. Amandla Stenberg is good – I enjoyed her in The Hunger Games & Everything, Everything (she’s certainly in some of the biggest YA stuff!). Other than her character, though, I’d say a lot of the others were a bit one-dimensional (especially her annoying school friend). I don’t mean to sound too down on this one as it’s a pretty good film but it does suffer a little bit from the YA feel and a slightly too perfect “things might be okay” sort of ending. But not everything has to be gritty – it’s good if this movie has given a more mainstream audience an insight into this issue. – 7/10


Bad Times At The El Royale – Well, this was an odd one and not quite what I was expecting. I’d been super annoyed at missing this after loving the look of a skinny, shirtless, Jesus-looking Chris Hemsworth in the trailers. Just FYI if you’re wanting shirtless Hemsworth – he doesn’t show up until an hour into the movie and his character is extremely hateful. Damn – how can you make someone as loveable as Chris play someone hateful?! I did like the strange atmosphere to this film and the 60’s setting and the mysterious & creepy hotel but the strangers’ stories were a mess and didn’t seem to have any sort of point. You also certainly aren’t made to care about any of them, other than maybe the two characters played by Jeff Bridges & Cynthia Erivo, who are the true standouts of this film and by far the best things about it. Dakota Johnson is as underwhelming as always and, as I said, can we not make Hemsworth a bad guy ever again? I love him but, honestly – it didn’t work. Sorry, Chris! It was completely unbelievable. Overall, I did like that this movie felt a little bit unique and thought Bridges and Erivo were great together and fun to watch but, man – the movie is just kind of a mess. – 6.5/10


Crawl – 6.5/10


Instant Family – 6.5/10


Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 6.5/10


Mortal Engines – Look! Yet another adaptation of a dystopian YA novel! Hey, I’m not exactly complaining since dystopian YA is a huge guilty pleasure genre of mine but I think the general public has had enough of it. I did read this book (mini-review here) and really enjoyed it but it was mainly because I loved the bizarre concept. Basically, the cities in this dystopian future are on wheels and go around devouring smaller cities (I suppose there’s some sort of political message there). The characters could’ve been stronger but the story was enough fun that I didn’t care too much. Well, shit – this movie was pretty terrible but I can’t explain why as, from what I remember, it’s a fairly faithful adaptation. I was just bored. It should’ve been Mad Max: Fury Road levels of craziness but it was bland and the characters were so underdeveloped and uninteresting, although that was a fault with the book as well. They also shifted the focus onto the girl in the film, which is fine, but it meant they spent far too little time on the boy who’s the main character in the book. By the way, the girl is also WAY more disfigured in the book so they really did try to make her “Hollywood pretty” in the film. It’s just a surprisingly forgettable movie for one with such a nutso concept and I can’t see this having done well enough to warrant any of the remaining books being adapted. What a shame. If you like the sound of this concept, just watch Howl’s Moving Castle instead. – 5/10


Eighth Grade – 5/10

Re-Watched:

Adventures In Babysitting Yes, I still love this movie. It’s a personal favorite. – 8.5/10

Big Daddy – I don’t care what anyone says about Adam Sandler. Yes, he has some really bad movies but he also has several that I really like. The Wedding Singer is his best by far and I love it but I think Big Daddy is good too and doesn’t get enough credit – It’s definitely one of his better films. I mean, come on – it’s quotable and the kid is cute. “I wipe my own ass! I wipe my own ass!!“. Ha. I love that bit. And we once again get a small Steve Buscemi cameo! It’s not as hilarious as his Wedding Singer cameo but it’s still fun. And it’s even a little bit sweet and heartfelt without being over-the-top saccharine and annoying. Plus, quite frankly, Sandler’s character is likeable in this one. I like this movie. I like Scuba Steve. Screw snobby film critics. – 7/10

The Dark Crystal (1982) – I watched this since the new series was coming up and I’d not seen this in years and honestly couldn’t remember a thing about it. I adored the look of it. Of course! It’s Jim Henson! I’m an 80’s kid so I’m a sucker for his work. This is no Labyrinth, though – I’ll be honest and say that I still far prefer Labyrinth. I might have even snoozed through The Dark Crystal a little bit. Blasphemy, I know! I’m sorry. Maybe I’ll watch it again sometime. I did watch the first episode of the new Netflix series so I’ll try to get back to that when life is a little less hectic. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Shattered by Dean Koontz – Well, as I said I went to America in August so I needed a light & easy read to bring with me. I love Dean Koontz but I have to admit that his novels are usually light & easy reads so he was of course my first choice of author to bring along. Shattered is one of his older books (first published in 1973 under the pseudonym K.R. Dwyer) so it was perfect as it was short since he didn’t get so overly wordy in his older books. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia: “Artist Alex Doyle and his new family, bride Courtney and her 11-year-old brother Colin, are moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Courtney’s flying out ahead to get the house set up. Alex and Colin are driving there in Alex’s new Ford Thunderbird. The cross-country trip starts out as a bonding experience, but their car is being tailed by a van; a van driven by a psychopath intent on terrorizing them.” This book was perfectly fine. For its short length, the characters were developed well enough (other than the wife, but there’s not much focus on her as she’s not the one being stalked on the journey). She’s a little too perfect & beautiful, though, like most female Koontz characters. My only issue with this book is that it ended way too abruptly. Loads of build-up and then, BOOM, it was over. Huh. Kind of like sex. – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Stranger ThingsUm. I can’t, uh, even make it through Season 3 of Stranger Things. I think I have only two or three episodes to go but can’t even be bothered to get back to them. Everyone seemed to love it, though. Are the hubby & I the only ones not feeling Stranger Things anymore?? So disappointing after Season 1 was so enjoyable.

BLOG PLANS FOR SEPTEMBER

Ha! Well, the month is pretty much over. Crap… It’s almost October! I usually do October Horror Month but don’t think I’ll have time. Maybe I’ll try to re-post mini reviews of the many horror movies I’ve watched this year.

September Movies I Want To See:

It Chapter Two – Seen it! Thoroughly enjoyed it. My review is HERE.

Hustlers – Well, I had no interest in this as the thought of watching Cardi B makes me cringe but it’s had such surprisingly good reviews that I just might check it out…

Ad Astra – Sci-fi is my favorite genre and I badly want to see this.

Rambo: Last Blood – Nah! I’m not bothered but thought I should mention that it’s out.

The Farewell – Looks good! Going to try to go this week.

Ready Or Not – Looking forward to this after it got great reviews. Looks a bit fucked-up! I love fucked-up…

The Goldfinch – Shit! Not happy this has had such terrible reviews as I’ve been working my way through the extremely long novel for MONTHS and I’m finally almost finished with the damn thing.

Poms – Looks a bit stupid but the cast is great so I’ll catch this one on Netflix when having a girly night alone.

There was no great music in what I watched in August other than Adventures In Babysitting (which has an awesome soundtrack). Here’s the Iggy Pop song Real Wild Child (Wild One) that’s in the film. Love it.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2019

Happy August! I got my shit together and am posting this on time! It helps that I watched very few movies in July, so this is a short post. I also managed to do separate full reviews of the cinema releases I saw in July, so I’ve posted the links to those. Here’s what I watched and partially read in July…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Yesterday – 7.5/10
Toy Story 4 – 7.5/10
Rocketman – 7.5/10
Midsommar – 7/10
Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10
Ma – 7/10
Child’s Play (2019) – 7/10
Booksmart – 7/10
Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10
Brightburn – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Midsommar – 7/10

Ocean Waves – As this is a Studio Ghibli film, I’ll devote a full review post to it at some point. I love Studio Ghibli and this was of course good but it’s certainly not the studio’s best. – 7/10

Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10

Annabelle Comes Home – 6.5/10

The Brotherhood Of Justice – Figured I’d check out this young Keanu Reeves movie since he’s so popular now that everyone has (finally) realized that Keanu is awesome. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A group of high school students, led by a rich boy Derek, is sick of school violence and decides to become underground vigilantes named “Brotherhood of Justice”.” The movie was okay but a little dated, which is fine with me since I love the Eighties (it came out in 1986). What’s funny is that Keanu Reeves was the rich guy (Derek) and Kiefer Sutherland was the nice guy and, knowing their later roles, it’s the opposite of how I see these two actors. Luckily, Keanu was the NICE rich vigilante (he’s too nice in real life to be a bad guy). What was also funny was that Lori Loughlin played his girlfriend and she complained to him that, since she wasn’t rich like him, she had to study and work hard to earn money for college. Ha! I just found that amusing with the college admissions scandal. Anyway, I liked this movie just fine since it’s from my era and I love Keanu but, unless you’re a fan of the Eighties and/or Keanu, you might find this one a little underwhelming. There are better “vigilantes out of control” films. This one isn’t very hard-hitting and doesn’t really address the various issues involved in seeking justice in this sort of way. – 6.5/10

Year Of The Dog – This was an odd one. I was eager to watch this as it was written & directed by Mike White and I love some of what he’s written (School Of Rock and I think some of Freaks And Geeks). This movie was disappointing and probably a little too “indie” for a mainstream audience to get any enjoyment out of it. I see plenty of reviews trashing it on IMDb but, to be fair, I think those people were expecting a mainstream comedy which it SO should not have been marketed as. As an indie film focusing on a woman who goes a little off the deep end after the death of her dog, it’s fine. It’s just a fairly depressing film but the characters aren’t strong enough to really make you care about any of them. I think Molly Shannon did a good job as the woman and I liked seeing Regina King as her friend but the story just didn’t really seem to go anywhere or have any kind of point. But, hey – that’s indie films for you! I think White was better off working with Richard Linklater, who does indie “stories about nothing” that are brilliant due to the characters & dialogue. Unfortunately, Year Of The Dog just felt a bit “So what?”. I’ll give it an extra half a point for Shannon’s performance. – 6/10

Starry Eyes – I hated this. But I don’t feel like trashing it since, well, I assume it’s a low budget film that people worked hard to create and what the hell have I done with MY life? Huh? Nothing! I’ve never made a movie. So they’ve accomplished more than I ever will. Right? Man I hated this movie. I’m never listening to “Horror Twitter” users again. They praise ALL horror movies. I’ll give this an extra half a point for, um, the fact that they made a movie & I haven’t. I’m feeling generous today. Yeah, I realize this isn’t a “review”. I can’t be bothered. I’ve got stuff to do, dammit. – 2.5/10

Re-Watched:

Speed – Keanu Reeves again! I’ve of course seen Speed. Loads of times. But I hadn’t watched it in YEARS so gave it another go. I still think it’s great and remember this movie turning Keanu into a proper action star heart throb. To be fair, Point Break may have done that first but I don’t think that was as big of a mainstream hit (I prefer Point Break – Underrated classic!). Speed is maybe a tiny bit dated in that way that so many 90’s movies are now (man that decade sucked). But, for the most part, it still stands up today and I love the fast pace. You never get bored during this film. I wish action movies nowadays were as good as they used to be… – 8/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

No time for reading at the moment so have been working my way through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for months. But I’m going on holiday at some point so I’ll bring a nice & easy Dean Koontz book with me!

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Stranger Things – Still working through Season 3 of this. I think I have only two or three episodes left to watch and I cannot get into it AT ALL. The first season was great but it’s gone downhill since. To be honest, they should’ve quit after Season 1. It feels like they’re making shit up as they go along now. It feels pointless.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans for any posts in August. I’ll see you again in September!

August Movies I Want To See:

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – I know nothing whatsoever about this movie but it looks like there’s a cute dog in it, so… Good enough reason to watch it! But maybe on Netflix.

Blinded By The Light – I don’t know much about this either but it’s some kind of musical having to do with the music of Bruce Springsteen? Well, I hate Springsteen so I won’t be rushing to this but it might be worth a watch a home. I prefer movies about music that I like (like The Beatles in Yesterday).

The Sun Is Also A Star – YA romance bullshit! So I of course read the book it’s based on (review HERE). And I’m sure I’ll definitely watch this bullshit adaptation at some point.

Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood – I’ll definitely go to this one but am feeling a bit dubious about the subject matter.

Good Boys – Raunchy pre-teen comedy? Meh. Might watch it (but only because I have Unlimited cinema now).

Crawl – This looks a bit ridiculous and I badly want to see it…

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – This actually looks freaky as shit! Is it aimed at a younger horror audience? The trailer looks good so I’ll go if reviews are decent. Why do I watch so much horror lately?

There wasn’t much music in the movies I watched in July. So, as I thoroughly enjoyed the film Yesterday (watched in June), here’s my favorite song by The Beatles. Even though it unfortunately wasn’t one of the many songs in the movie…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2019

Happy almost-end-of July! I’m way behind on these posts (as usual). Here’s the stuff I watched in June. I watched way too much. I’m going to take a break from watching so much crap, especially at home…

MOVIES IN JUNE

MOVIES REVIEWED IN JUNE

None. I had a busy month so posted nothing on my blog. I caught up on reviewing current releases the past couple of weeks, though. I’ve posted links to my full reviews below.

MOVIES WATCHED IN JUNE (ranked best to worst):

Yesterday – 7.5/10

Toy Story 4 – 7.5/10

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – This is one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so I’ll review it in full at some point (probably for Halloween). I added it since the Italian Giallo horror thing is one of very few genres I’ve not yet really explored (I’ve still seen nothing other than three Dario Argento films). I liked Deep Red – I have to say it’s a more straightforward and “accessible” film than something like Suspiria, although that one is more my style. Man I love the Goblin score in these movies… – 7.5/10

Rocketman7.5/10

Searching – I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting for a movie that’s all seen through a computer screen via Skype, social media posts, websites, videos, etc. I didn’t think the gimmick would work but the mystery of the daughter’s disappearance was intriguing enough to keep you interested the whole time. The story worked well, the father & daughter had good character development (making up for other characters having very little), and the gimmick didn’t end up being a distraction from the story like I feared it might. The pacing was also really good – these mystery thrillers can drag a bit sometimes but this was fast-paced and very engaging the entire time. I feel like I’m hyping this too much… It’s not exactly Oscar-worthy material but I’m impressed that its gimmick worked so surprisingly well. – 7/10

Ma7/10

Child’s Play (2019)7/10

Crazy Rich Asians – I see why this film got a lot of hype as it’s a good return to the simple rom-coms that have really died off in the past decade. To be fair, it truly deserves to be ranked higher than Ma & Child’s Play as it’s a much better film (but I’m more of a horror girl than a rom-com girl). If you’re a rom-com fan, I definitely recommend this movie as it’s a fun film with characters you’ll love as well as love to hate. Is it the most original movie ever?? No, we’ve seen the whole “evil mother-in-law” thing before. But that doesn’t matter if it’s a well-written movie. The characters are strong and the main guy is a hottie – I enjoyed gazing at him in the thoroughly entertaining A Simple Favor as well. The only thing I’ll say is that I’d have liked a bit more to happen at the end. Some things are left unresolved and I’d have liked more of a comeuppance for a few people. This movie keeps things very light, though. It’s also very “clean” so it’s something that wouldn’t be inappropriate to have on while your kids or grandparents are around or something. I don’t mean that as an insult, though – it was kind of refreshing to see a modern rom-com that isn’t crude in any way. – 7/10

The Killing – I’ve watched a lot of movies for my IMDb Top 250 Project this year so I’ll try to give this Stanley Kubrick film a review when I do a big post with the other Top 250 movies that I’ve watched. – 7/10

Booksmart7/10

Wine Country – This was fine. I actually liked it more than I was expecting for a Netflix old-chick chick-flick. But that’s because I’m an old chick like these chicks. Well, I’m a tiny bit younger… (Not much!). Considering the stars of this, the movie is fairly tame. I actually prefer that to the over-the-top comedies such as Bridesmaids. It’s not a laugh-out-loud riot but I got a few laughs out of it (mostly thanks to Maya Rudolph – I usually find her funny). What I also liked is that the women all had different personalities so you’ll probably like or relate to at least one of them if you’re a middle-aged woman like me. I’d totally be the friend in this who no one expected to actually turn up to this get-together. That’s so me. Seriously – Don’t invite me to anything. I don’t want to come. – 6.5/10

Brightburn6.5/10

If I Stay – I figured I should finally watch this since I read the book when I was on my “I’m tired and I’m only going to read easy YA stuff” kick. From what I remember of the book now, this is a pretty faithful adaptation. Dare I say that it was maybe even a little better than the book? They did a good job with the characters and the parents were especially likeable (I don’t remember as much focus on them in the book?). The romance was also believable enough and they had decent chemistry. As far as teen drama romances go, I thought this was fairly good. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis:”Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on.” – 6.5/10

Boogaloo Shrimp Documentary – This documentary has only FIVE votes at IMDb. Shameful! Anyway, here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you don’t know who the hell Boogaloo Shrimp is – “The life story of Michael Chambers aka “Boogaloo Shrimp”: the dancer, actor, singer, comedian and master of waving, ticking, backsliding and liquid animation dance during the 1980’s breakdancing phenomenon.” Well, this documentary is fine and it was fun seeing Michael Chambers being interviewed. It’s not the most in-depth documentary, though – I’d only recommend it if you’re a fan. What I DO totally recommend is the movie Breakin‘ (1984). Eighties classic! Love it. And nothing beats Boogaloo Shrimp’s “broom dance” from that movie. I’ve posted a video of the dance at the end of this post. – 6.5/10

Life As We Know It – I honestly can’t believe I watched a Katherine Fucking Heigl movie. Something about her is just really hateful. I hope she doesn’t read this… Hey, Katherine Heigl – you’re far less hateful than Gwyneth Paltrow! Anyway. I think I watched this because I liked the (unbelievable) setup: A couple with a new baby die in a car accident and leave the baby to their two best friends who can’t stand each other. The two best friends must then work together to create a new life for the baby!! Madness and TOTALLY FUCKING PREDICTABLE possible romance ensues!!! I kind of hate myself for watching this. And even more for kind of liking it. It’s fine. What can I say? Sometimes you’re in the mood for an utterly predictable rom-com with a cute baby. My only actual complaint is that I’d have liked a little more focus on the baby. Poor kid. Not sure I felt by the end that she’d ever really feel like these are her “parents”. But I’m probably putting too much thought into a movie with a pretty ridiculous concept. – 6/10

Finders Keepers (2015) – This was a bizarrely fascinating documentary. I really need to give you the Wikipedia plot synopsis for THIS one: “The story details John Wood’s attempts to recover his mummified leg from Shannon Whisnant, after Whisnant found the leg in a grill purchased at a storage unit auction.” Yep, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. This guy lost a leg in a plane crash and asked the hospital if he could keep the leg. So they gave it to him, skin and all, and it was really gross and he didn’t know what to do with it so he stuck it inside a grill in a storage unit. Then he didn’t pay the rent on the unit and the stuff in the unit went to auction. A guy bought the grill and discovered this gnarly leg inside and decided to turn it into a money-making opportunity and wanted to charge people to come see the human leg. But the original owner of the leg heard about it and wanted his leg back and it all turned into a custody battle over who had the right to now own the leg. Seriously. What’s best about the documentary, besides the bizarro story itself, is that these two guys are obviously unique characters. Who the hell would want to keep a human leg they found?! You’re likely to be on the side of the guy who lost his leg. I mean, it’s his damn leg! Humans are so fucking weird sometimes. Well, watch this one if you want some light (and weird) entertainment. – 6/10

The Happytime Murders – Soooo much silly string! This movie was, uh, what I was expecting. To be fair, although it’s not great, it’s better than its ratings would have you believe. What the hell did people expect? It’s a raunchy comedy with filthy puppets. Not as funny or clever as I’d been hoping but who doesn’t want to see a puppet squirting silly string, uh, semen all over the place, huh? – 5.5/10

On Chesil Beach – Soooo much silly string! I guess this movie was fine. Well acted & all that but I was a bit bored. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “Based on Ian McEwan’s novel. In 1962 England, a young couple find their idyllic romance colliding with issues of sexual freedom and societal pressure, leading to an awkward and fateful wedding night.” The problem was that the new husband was a complete asshole and it was very hard to have any sympathy for him. I felt sorry for Saoirse Ronan’s character. The ending was fairly good – it just felt like it took forever to get there. I’m not really into this sort of genre, though. Watch it if you like a relationship drama. – 6/10

Murder Mystery – Ugh. First of all, can I just say that I do NOT hate Adam Sandler? Hating him seems to be the popular thing. He’s had some dreadful movies, yes, but he’s also had several that I quite like (especially The Wedding Singer). Murder Mystery is definitely not one of his better films, though. For the most part, it’s just boring. It has none of that wacky Sandler humor that I know isn’t for everyone but I prefer that humor to the blandness of this film. I suppose it’s kind of fun in that it has, well, a murder mystery. It’s like Murder-On-The-Orient-Express-Lite. But with a far less intriguing mystery. If you like Sandler & Aniston, Just Go With It is a better movie. But his movies with Drew Barrymore are WAY better. – 5.5/10

Re-Watched:

The Karate Kid (1984) – LOVE this movie. It’s another Eighties classic. And when it comes to inspirational underdog movies, you can’t deny that The Karate Kid is one of the all-time BEST. Hell, I’d personally put it up there with Rocky but I know that’s because I’m an 80’s kid so I love this as I grew up with it (I like it more than I like Rocky). I watched this with my daughter and I’m loving sharing favorites of mine with her as she gets older. They don’t always work… I admit that some of my beloved Eighties films are dated and she hasn’t liked some of them. She loved this. While it has some very 80’s moments (The You’re The Best montage! God I love a cheesy old montage!!), I think it easily stands the test of time. The underdog story is timeless, the characters are strong, and it has some extremely iconic moments and lines. Who doesn’t know the whole “wax on, wax off” thing even if they’ve never seen the movie?? What really sold it to my daughter was Mr. Miyagi and she has now declared him as one of her very favorite movie characters. She was very excited when she got a Karate Kid shirt the other day and thinks she’s cool as shit when she wears it now. It’s actually a cool as shit shirt – I want one too. Any movie that can gain new generations of fans 30+ years after its original release is my definition of a damn good film. – 9/10

A Knight’s Tale – Watched this with the kid as well since I thought she might like it. I think she did but not nearly as much as The Karate Kid! I remember hearing a while back that this is “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. Come ON. I know it’s not exactly Citizen Kane but it’s fun and there’s a Bowie song in it, dammit. Critics need to lighten the hell up sometimes. Like The Karate Kid, it’s an entertaining underdog story. Who the hell doesn’t like a good underdog story?! Who cares that this one is pretty damn predictable? It’s light entertainment. It’s a popcorn movie. (It’s no Karate Kid, though – Watch that one first) – 7/10

Godzilla (2014) – Ugh. I figured I’d re-watch this before going to the new Godzilla movie. It reminded me just how fucking boring this one was. I was so bored that I ended up not bothering going to the new one. – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

As I said, it was a busy month so I watched no TV shows and I’m still in the middle of reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s long so it’s taking FOREVER…….

As for music, I realized that I never actually post about music in this section. Weird as I love it almost as much as I do movies. I suppose it’s because I never like any new music. Anyone have any recommendations of music from within the last ten years that doesn’t suck?! Here’s the kind of shit that I like. Yeah, stuff like Bowie. I always love an excuse to use a David Bowie image.

BLOG PLANS FOR JULY

My only blog plans for July were to catch up on reviewing cinema releases that I’ve seen. I’m now all caught up. Yay! And I’m unlikely to go to any more for a while since movie releases for the next few weeks are really poor for the summer season. Yikes.

July Movies I Want To See:

Well, it’s over halfway through the month now so I’ve seen some of these. I’ve included links to those I’ve reviewed.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Midsommar

Anna – Was kind of annoyed to miss this. It didn’t show for long. I’m sure it’s not great but I did actually like Luc Besson’s Lucy and sexy female assassin stories are usually entertaining popcorn movies.

Annabelle Comes Home

The Dead Don’t Die – Could’ve gone to this last week then remembered that it’s directed by Jim Jarmusch and I thought his film Only Lovers Left Alive was boring as shit. So I didn’t bother.

The Lion King – NO. I’ve had it with these Disney remakes. I don’t want to give this or any more unnecessary remakes any money. But, yeah – I’m likely to see it on whatever service it pops up on. (Oh yeah – I guess it’ll be the Disney one that we aren’t getting in the U.K. anytime soon???).

The Current War – So odd that this took SO long to come out! That’s worrying. The reviews don’t look great but I’d be interested in seeing it on Netflix eventually.

Teen Spirit – Looks like it could be a fun family film. Might go to it if we have nothing else to do one night.

Here’s the Boogaloo Shrimp broom dance from Breakin’. With music from Kraftwerk! That’s the kind of shit that I like…

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2019

It’s July! Oops – I’m two months behind on my monthly roundup posts. Oh well, here’s what I watched in May. I saw some great stuff (finally!).

MOVIES IN MAY

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – 7.5/10
Pokémon Detective Pikachu – 5.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

A Matter Of Life And Death – I loved this! Why isn’t this movie more well known?? I decided to check it out when I saw people on Twitter highly recommending it when it was on TV. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you’ve not heard of it: “A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.” It’s a 1946 British film starring David Niven and Kim Hunter and it’s pretty damn epic. It reminded me of the great classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life. I loved the Technicolor look of it and the gorgeous elaborate sets (as far as 1946 films go). It also has a Wizard Of Oz vibe with the parts of the film that are set on Earth being in color and those in Heaven being in black & white. Fantastic!


This is also one of those old romantic films where the couple fall in love IMMEDIATELY. Like, they knew each for two whole seconds. Man I love that about old romances, like the super mushy Brief Encounter (which has the best sexual tension EVER). I love old movies and their sexless romance! I also love that everyone in old films looks at least 45. At one point David Niven said his age (27) and I was like “You’re shitting me!” Anyway. This movie was a lovely surprise and I highly recommend it if you like wartime romances and/or unique stories. There’s also some playful “American vs British” stuff that was quite fun and an enjoyable character in a small role as a stereotypical cocky American soldier (he was kind of hot, too). – 8/10

Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – This was great. I’ve been focusing on watching the remainder of the movies for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I prefer to see the original film before a Hollywood remake but didn’t manage that this time. Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is very good and a fairly faithful remake but, as expected, the original is better. I have a lot of IMDb film reviews to catch up on this year so I’ll do a review of this one along with the rest at some point. I highly recommend it if you liked The Departed (and if you’ve not seen The Departed, watch this one first!). – 7.5/10

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – 7.5/10

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – I’ve been meaning to explore more of Sidney Poitier’s work so have finally managed to watch both this and In The Heat Of The Night, which was one that I chose as a 2019 Blind Spot film. In The Heat Of The Night is a better film but this one is also worth watching, mainly for the great performances (especially Poitier’s & Hepburn’s). I wasn’t crazy about his love interest but I think that’s just because her character was so annoyingly happy. She also just seemed a bit weak in comparison to the heavyweight stars in this one – these are proper ACTORS. The movie is obviously going to seem dated now and people might find it slightly uncomfortable to watch but, hell, I wouldn’t say that the times have changed as much as you’d have expected by now (just over 50 freaking YEARS later!). So I think it’s still a very relevant film & certainly worth a watch to see some classic actors at their usual best. The movie itself could’ve been slightly better – it does drag a little and the “stage play” feeling won’t be for everyone but I’m happy to say I’ve seen another Poitier film and think he’s fantastic. I don’t feel like the stars of today have the same sort of presence as classic stars such as Poitier & Hepburn. I should really watch more old films… – 7/10

Touch Of Evil – This is another IMDb Top 250 film so I’ll review it in full with the rest in a separate post. It was good but not a favorite of mine compared to the others I’ve watched from the Top 250 since starting this blog. – 7/10

The Wild Bunch – This is another Top 250 film as well as one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so will get a full review later. I have to say that, while it’s a good film, I was a bit disappointed. I’ve watched several Westerns now since starting this blog and far prefer the others I’ve watched, such as Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. – 7/10

In Order Of Disappearance – The is the original Norwegian film of Liam Neeson’s Cold Pursuit (which I’ve not seen but the hubby enjoyed). It’s fine. It’s a decent revenge story and I can certainly see why they remade it with Neeson – it’s SO the type of film he’s typecast in now. To be honest, though, where I’m so behind on writing this I now don’t even remember it all that well. It’s an entertaining crime film but that’s never been a favorite genre of mine and I clearly find the movies in this genre a bit forgettable. – 6.5/10

Snowpiercer – Hmm. After waiting YEARS to finally get the opportunity to see this 2013 film in the U.K. and all the hype surrounding it, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. I was very much looking forward to seeing John Hurt again, though (R.I.P.), and I did love seeing him in this. At least I did have my doubts beforehand as I didn’t really like Bong Joon-ho’s movie Okja. However, I liked his film The Host and loved the crazy ass concept in Snowpiercer so was very interested in seeing it. People live on a motherfucking train that never stops and travels around the entire frozen apocalyptic Earth. That’s nuts. I love a weird ass story. I bet the French graphic novel this is based on, Le Transperceneige, is fun. I hope it’s better than this film, which was hard to fully get into as most of the characters are unlikeable and poorly developed. Strong characters are very important to me and annoying characters do seem to be a problem with Bong Joon-ho’s films that I’ve seen. I also hate over-the-top caricatures and hated Tilda Swinton in both this & Okja. Sorry, Swinton fans! It just threw me out of both movies. Chris Evans is fine but, again, by the end you kind of don’t care about him anymore (I won’t say why). I did, however, like the two characters who also happen to be the only likeable characters from The Host, so that helped the movie a bit and I was fine with how it ended. I’m just disappointed as the story itself had so much potential to be a really kick ass movie but it tries too hard to be weird & quirky and it fails massively in making you give the slightest shit about the characters. Great concept wasted. – 6.5/10

Lu Over The Wall – This was an odd one. First of all, if you want to see a good anime film about a weird fishgirl, do yourself a favor and watch Ponyo. And watch all the other Studio Ghibli movies. And Akira. And Ghost In The Shell. And Wolf Children. And Your Name. I’m no anime expert as I clearly stick to the most mainstream stuff but Lu Over The Wall is the sort of thing you’d watch after checking out more well-known anime first. It’s a cute movie but definitely aimed at a younger audience (maybe 13 and under). The mermaid, Lu, is sweet but a fraction annoying. The story is simple and the characters are likeable enough but slightly dull. I just far prefer the artistic beauty & otherworldliness of Studio Ghibli. The best way to describe it is to say that Lu Over The Wall is the equivalent of a DreamWorks movie in the West: Enjoyable enough for a couple of hours of entertainment but ultimately forgettable. – 6.5/10

Adrift – This was fine. I’d probably have liked it more with a different actress as I find Shailene Woodley annoying. But I’m always intrigued by true stories of people lost at sea (maybe because the thought of being adrift in the middle of the ocean freaks me out). If true story disaster dramas are your thing, this one is worth a watch. It’s exactly what I expected but most movies in this sort of genre are pretty predictable. – 6/10

The Wandering Earth – This Chinese sci-fi film was disappointing but had potential and certainly had plenty of ambition. Here’s the crazy IMDb synopsis: “As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind.” Hey – it’s no more outrageous than Snowpiercer! I just wish the characters had been stronger, which would have made up for the expected cheesiness of this story. The movie looked very good, which I enjoyed. It’s just a shame that the story is too much like cheesy Western sci-fi (I kept thinking of The Core from 2003). Oh well. It was entertaining enough for a couple of hours and I’m always happy to watch science fiction. – 6/10

King Of Thieves – I found this a bit disappointing as well. Ever since the real life Hatton Garden raid, I’ve been wanting them to make a movie of it starring Michael Caine. Casting that’s predictable as hell, yes, but he had to be in it! No one was more perfect for this role. But, somehow, they managed to make a movie about an amazing heist quite boring. I guess that’s kind of the point, though – these old British dudes managed this huge heist but it won’t have been all sleek & stylish like Ocean’s Eleven. It was a real heist, not a sexy Hollywood heist. I just wanted to like it more and to kind of like the characters, even though they’re criminals. They weren’t well developed and I’m still not exactly sure why they even did this robbery. – 6/10