Happy Birthday to Woody Harrelson, who turns 58 today.
I like Harrelson but I can’t say I was always a fan. But his roles and movies keep getting better and better. I’m glad he’s finally being taken more seriously as an actor. I think he’s one of those actors who people will eventually realize was underrated for many years. I think being in fairly controversial films maybe didn’t help at the time, like Natural Born Killers & The People Vs. Larry Flynt, but he was fantastic in those. At least he was an Oscar nominee for Flynt, I guess. I’d like to see him get an Oscar someday. He’s proven he can do any sort of role; from comedy to serious drama to complete and utter psycho.
So I figured I’d do a full ranking of all the Harrelson films I’ve seen. I’ll be honest and say that I could really do with re-watching most of those outside of the Top Ten. Maybe some would end up in the ten on a re-watch. We’ll see. But, for now, these are My Top Ten Woody Harrelson Movies (ranked by how much I like the movie, not the role):
22. Friends With Benefits 21. Kingpin 20. Seven Pounds 19. The Glass Castle 18. Doc Hollywood 17. EDtv 16. Indecent Proposal 15. 2012 14. Now You See Me 13. Anger Management 12. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me 11. A Scanner Darkly
Wildcats, Moneytrain, Wag The Dog, The Thin Red Line, Palmetto, After The Sunset, North Country, A Prairie Home Companion, No Country For Old Men, Semi-Pro, Transsiberian, Out Of The Furnace, Free Birds, Triple 9, Now You See Me 2, The Duel, LBJ, Wilson, Venom
And I won’t count his uncredited roles in She’s Having A Baby & L.A. Story
I’m not forgetting, of course, his role as Woody on Cheers. I miss classic American TV here in the UK! It was weird to see him go from that sweet, lovable role to things like Natural Born Killers. And I know a lot of people loved True Detective but I hated it with a passion. I’m glad it helped keep him so popular, though.
It was fun watching him at Wimbledon the other day. People were going crazy on Twitter over the announcers commentating on everything Harrelson was doing. I saw more of Harrelson at Wimbledon than I did of any actual tennis.
This is my final 2018 Year End List. This one is really annoying as so many good 2017 US films got released in the UK in early 2018. But it’s a huge pain in the ass to try to adjust this list each year according to the US release dates so, once again, I’ve based this list on the UK cinema release dates.
It was an okay year for films but pretty disappointing overall. I certainly won’t have any all-time favorites from 2018 (although I think number 1 was entertaining as hell, number 2 was pretty damn fantastic & number 3 was certainly unique).
So here are My Top Ten 2018 Movie Releases (based on UK release date). Oh, and I saw a shitload so I’ll actually count down from 30. I’ve listed the rest I’ve seen at the end…
I’ll do one more post sometime next week with my 2019 Blind Spot Choices. I’m then going to take a bit of a blog break (but I’ll catch up on replying to comments first!). Sorry I’ve fallen behind on that again.
I seriously thought I’d quit this blogging thing once I hit my five year anniversary. Well, shit – I’m still lingering a year later. Sorry – I think you’re stuck with me! I enjoy this online movie diary. I may not post as many full-length reviews anymore but I’m obsessed with keeping lists so I’ll continue my monthly roundup posts.
As it’s so close to the end of the year, I’ll do what I always do for my anniversary posts & just do a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve watched & read so far this year. That means lists! So here are My Top Tens for 2018 so far (and likely to change order by the end of the year as I’m totally indecisive).
My Top Ten Books (& Short Stories) Read This Year:
A quick comment on the ones I’ve just finished & not yet reviewed: I really enjoyed Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It has been made into a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock but the trailer looks rubbish (it looks like too much has been changed). I recommend the book to horror fans, especially if you liked A Quiet Place. And I got a nice surprise as the UK version of the book has a bonus story called Ghastle And Yule. I loved this!! If you’re a lover of films, and especially if you’re a lover of classic horror films & filmmaking, I highly recommend finding a copy of this story about two rival horror filmmakers. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author & got a nice reply. It’s great having these kind of exchanges with authors, filmmakers & actors whose work you appreciate.
A quick comment on these: I’m clearly enjoying exploring more anime as so many are in my top ten (I’ve watched loads of movies this year – the full list is HERE). And I certainly didn’t expect a martial arts film to easily be my number one so far (Bruce Lee kicks ass!). I’ll say that the Blind Spot project is worth doing each year as most of them end up being in my top ten. So far, my top three are all Blind Spot choices of mine.
A quick comment on these: I always go by UK release date so I, Tonya makes this list. It’s still my favorite, although I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” film on the list. I’ve just always been fascinated by the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story and the movie was entertaining as hell. Plus I love dark comedy/drama. “Best” film is probably A Star Is Born. Cooper & Gaga are brilliant. Not sure if it’ll stay in second place, though. Straight drama isn’t really my thing and I probably enjoyed some others on this list a bit more. I do have the urge to move Mandy way up the list but I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if I even liked it all that much! But it’s weird and trippy and crazy as shit and looks good and sounds good and is maybe a little bit pretentious. It’s so my type of thing.
Thanks to everyone who still reads my occasional posts and my annoying lists. I do appreciate it!
I usually end these posts with a music clip so I’ll go with Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger from the thoroughly entertaining anime Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem:
Happy June, everyone! As always, I’m behind on my blog. I’m annoyed that I didn’t see Deadpool 2 in May (but I’ve seen it now – I’ll review it soon). And I didn’t manage to review my Blind Spot movie in May (Enter The Dragon) so I might post two Blind Spot reviews in June. Or not. Life is too busy! But you gotta put life first. 🙂 Here’s the crap I watched & read in May…
• War For The Planet Of The Apes – LOVED this. Wasn’t happy that I missed out on seeing this in the cinema last year but things were too hectic for me when it was out. If I’d seen it, it easily would’ve made My Top Ten Movies Of 2017. I’d put it in either 3rd or 4th place – I can’t decide if it would be above Blade Runner 2049 or not. Oh, by the way, I’d also add Colossal to that Top Ten now too and I recommend that if you’ve not seen it. But back to the apes! How great are those apes?! Who ever would’ve thought that they could look SO damn good?? I mean, I’m still a fan of the original 1968 film but this reboot has been amazing, especially in the development of these characters. The ape characters, of course. Love them. It’s funny how we can care so much more about them than we can about most human characters in movies nowadays. Anyway – I don’t need to ramble on forever. I missed this at the time but am so glad I’ve finally caught up. This has easily been one of the most satisfying reboots ever and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these films. But I hope they end it here – it would make for the perfect ending plus Hollywood needs to learn to quit while ahead. – 8/10
• Metropolis – This is a Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full soon. It’s a gorgeous film. – 8/10
• The Theory Of Everything – I’m happy that I finally watched this as well. I gotta be honest – Eddie Redmayne annoys me for some reason so that may be why I didn’t rush to see this. But, damn, he earned that Oscar! He was brilliant in this film. I’m sorry, Eddie Redmayne! I was also equally impressed by Felicity Jones – it’s a shame she didn’t get an Oscar as well but at least she was nominated. Jane Hawking came across as an incredibly strong woman in this movie so it’s a shame I think the role was overshadowed. I’ll be honest again and say that I didn’t know much about the life of Stephen Hawking, especially his personal life, so I found this film fascinating. I don’t normally like many “true stories” based on real people but this film was fantastic. Stephen & Jane Hawking led an amazing life. R.I.P. Stephen Hawking. – 8/10
• A Monster Calls – I read this book last year (it just made it into My Top Ten Books Of 2017). I never got around to reviewing the book but thought it was a great pre-teen to young adult novel showing a different way of handling grief. What the boy goes through with his mother’s cancer felt very real & heartbreaking. The idea for the story was conceived by Siobhan Dowd while she had cancer. She died before she could write it, so it was written by Patrick Ness. This probably helped add to the grief feeling so real in the book. As for the movie, it’s a great adaptation & very faithful to the book. I loved the look of the film (also true to the illustrated version of the book that I read). Felicity Jones (again!) is very good as the mother, the boy (Lewis MacDougall) is great in a very difficult role, and Sigourney Weaver, um, sounds weird as hell with an English accent. And the dad is a useless fuckwit (same as in the book). The movie is so faithful that you could probably just watch the movie if you really don’t want to read the book. But I recommend at least one or the other. Be sure to have tissues… – 7.5/10
• Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – I don’t know why I’m on a Marilyn Monroe kick but this is the third movie of hers that I’ve watched in the past several months. I always wanted to check this one out since, not gonna lie, I loved Madonna’s Material Girl video. Wow – she really did do an almost exact copy of Marilyn’s performance in this film. It was fun finally watching that scene in full. Of the three films I’ve seen so far, Marilyn played the “dumb blonde” and I don’t know if she did much beyond that sort of character but, hell, it worked. I thought I might find her a little annoying (sorry!) but she’s likable in a very innocent yet shrewd sort of way. Monroe herself wasn’t dumb in the slightest – she used what worked for her and, yes, I can see her appeal. Personality-wise, though, I’d have to say that I’d personally choose to be more like Jane Russell’s character in this. She’s the very definition of SASSY! I don’t watch enough old films so I think this is the first thing I’ve seen her in. I especially loved how she lusted over the male Olympians (I loved that song & dance number – I’ll stick it at the end of this post). Together, Russell & Monroe made a great team in this with their very different, yet determined, personalities. And this is probably the best I’ve seen from Monroe – I think Russell helped bring out the best in her here. I think I have a weird sort of girl crush on the combo of the two of them. I still like Some Like It Hot the most but far preferred Gentleman Prefer Blondes to The Seven Year Itch, which is dated in a somewhat uncomfortable way that doesn’t really work now. All three have outdated values but, screw it, who cares? These movies were made in a very different time. Monroe and Russell are very sexy but also very strong women in this one. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is just a really fun film. Movies are rarely fun anymore. – 7.5/10
• Everything, Everything – This is another book that I read last year and liked a heck of a lot. But it’s sooooo “Young Adult romance” and definitely not for everyone. Again, this is a pretty faithful adaptation but the book did a better job of capturing the likable personality of Madeline, who suffers from “severe combined immunodeficiency” and hasn’t been able to leave her house for 18 years. This becomes complicated when she falls for the boy who has just moved in next door. Amandla Stenberg is perfect as Madeline, though. Hey – she was Rue in The Hunger Games! When did she grow up? She’s adorable. The boy she falls for is played by Nick Robinson from Love, Simon. He was good as well but the movie tells you very little about him. Anyway. I really liked the book and this adaptation but you won’t like this one unless you’re into YA romances. – 7/10
• Atomic Blonde – This was fine but a bit disappointing. I feel similar to how I felt about The Hitman’s Bodyguard – it has a lot of big movie stars who did well in a weak film. Charlize Theron was great – tough & sexy & had me wondering how I would look in a blonde wig just like hers (I’d look shit – I’m not Charlize Theron). This is set in 1989 so I loved the soundtrack but the movie does try too hard to look “cool”. But it’s still a good-looking film and I totally wanted to be Charlize (without all the “getting beat to shit” stuff). I had fun with it and enjoyed it more than The Hitman’s Bodyguard. This is from one of the same directors as John Wickand it’s basically John Wick but with boobs and a far weaker storyline. – 6.5/10
• Shane – I watched this because this is the film they watched in Logan. Seriously – I’m weird like that. I’m always interested in looking into the films showing within films. This is a full-on old Western and not even one of those cool Leone Spaghetti Westerns so it’s not my favorite sort of genre and I’m certainly no expert. But it’s a very good film with some gorgeous cinematography and Shane is a really cool tough dude who stands up for what’s right. It’s a timeless story & totally deserves a much higher rating than I’m giving it. But the Leone films are much more my thing if I’m going to make myself watch Westerns. – 6.5/10
• Carnival Of Souls (1962) – I’ve wanted to see this for years (FYI – it’s on Amazon Prime UK). Mainly because of the title: CARNIVAL OF SOULS!!! Seriously – that’s an awesome title. The movie itself? Low budget and extremely slow-paced. I love the idea of the story, though, and can see that this probably influenced many later horror films such as Romero’s brilliant Night Of The Living Dead. There’s some great stuff going on in this movie, including creepy & atmospheric organ music and zombielike people who seem to be after the main character’s soul following her car accident. I want to give this a higher rating. It deserves higher. I may up my rating at some point… I do think it’s worthy of its cult status and that all film lovers, especially horror film lovers, should see it. But it IS very slow. The story is dragged out for too long but, to be fair, the ending won’t have been blatantly obvious in 1962. This film was probably a bit of a shock back then! But it could’ve made for a kick ass half-hour episode of The Twilight Zone instead. – 6.5/10
• Going In Style – I watched this as it seemed like a nice, lightweight film starring three actors that I really like. Oh, shit – one of them is in trouble now. Dammit. Am I allowed to talk about this movie now? At this rate, I’m going to have to delete half my blog’s old Top Ten lists involving male actors (I’d never do that – I don’t believe in erasing the past). Anyway, this film was fine but a bit meh. It’s one of those that I enjoyed well enough while watching but will barely remember in a year. It relies too much on its big name stars, who all did well and were likable as always but the story is a bit weak. – 6/10
• The Space Between Us -The same again – a bit meh. Disappointing as I really loved the plot synopsis on IMDb: “The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.” It was okay. I liked the story but they somehow managed to make it into a very bland film. I like all the actors in it and am not really sure where it all went wrong. Oh well. I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time – I just wanted it to be better. – 6/10
• Goodnight Mommy – Another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like this one. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential. – 5.5/10
• Annabelle: Creation – Ugh. I trashed the first movie HERE. The first film was ridiculous and couldn’t have been more cliché. At first, it seemed that this one was going to be much better. Oh, hell no! It’s even worse. I think it made me appreciate the first film more, even with all its overused horror tropes. Those things are overused because they sometimes work. This sequel probably could have used a little more of that. I dunno. I think what annoys me with modern horror films such as these, besides the predictability and stupid jump scares and lack of originality or good storytelling, is the filmmakers’ obvious hatred for the characters. The characters are only there to die. So why would I give a shit about what happens? In that case, I’d rather watch silly 80’s slashers which had a sense of fun. We need at least one person to root for/to possibly survive/to not be possessed. I mean, we do have a nice group of young girls I wanted to like but they got so little character development. And a tragic beginning turns a sweet couple into “creepy people who act strange”. It doesn’t end well in this film for people who don’t deserve to suffer (sorry if that’s spoiler-y). And, okay, maybe I don’t like sweet young girls turning into psychotic demons. Well, maybe in a good movie. Actually, I like demonic kids – The Omen is awesome… Never mind. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. This movie just sucked. – 4.5/10
• Re-Watch: Stardust – Watched this with the kid and she loved it. She adores The Princess Bride (since she has awesome taste like her mother) so I figured she’d enjoy this as well. Not that this is nearly as good as The Princess Bride! But nothing is… – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)
• Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Me & my YA novels! What can I say? They’re simple reads and some are pretty good. This is one of the pretty good ones. It’s yet again another romance but the characters feel real & truly in love despite being so different. Plus, it’s set in the 80s and they talk about lots of music that I like so that was a big plus for me (I’m so old). The story is pretty straightforward but the characters make this a really enjoyable read. – 4/5
• The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James – This was an odd one. I love sci-if so was intrigued by this synopsis at Goodreads: “Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . ” This is, I guess, what would fall under the YA definition again? But only because it involves a teenage girl. And it’s not a romance in the way it sounds in the synopsis. It’s hard to describe this without spoilers but this gets pretty intense at the end and I have to say it was a real page-turner as I took it everywhere with me as I was eager to find out how it would end. I liked the way we learn about these chatacters through e-mails that they aren’t able to reply to until months later. And the thought of being alone in space has always intrigued me/freaked me out. But I’m not sure how I feel about the direction the book takes at the end. It would make for a good movie & I liked the story but I’m not sure this “YA sci-fi romance drama thriller” quite worked. – 3/5
• Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – I’ve now read all of Flynn’s novels and I think she’s a very good & entertaining writer, especially as I’m not usually into the crime thriller type of genre. Gone Girl drove me a bit crazy with its hateful characters but it was a damn good read. Sharp Objects, however, was so utterly twisted that it’s my favorite so far just because it was so bonkers. Dark Places was also a good read from Flynn but definitely my least favorite of her full-length novels so far. But that’s not saying it’s bad – it’s a twisty turny murder mystery that I’m sure any fans of this genre would like. It’s just not my favorite genre. And although everyone in it is truly fucked-up, I liked the even crazier Sharp Objects-level of fucked-up. – 3/5
• Laurie by Stephen King – This was fine. A very short, not-full-on-horror type of King story. This was a freebie released by King as a precursor to his new novel, The Outsider. Can’t wait to get that! I adore King and try to read everything of his. If you like King too, you need to read Laurie. – 3/5
Currently Reading: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)
Just stupid Grey’s Anatomy. Still. For some reason. They almost killed off a main doctor character again. Such a dangerous hospital to work in!!! Boring season finale. Maybe they should’ve killed someone after all.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
• Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I’m not overly excited, though, to be honest. The last one was just okay. But I’m not a massive Jurassic Park fan beyond the very first film anyway.
• Hereditary – This looks intense! And I always get excited by horrors that actually get really great reviews. This is the movie I’m most looking forward to this month. Can’t wait!
• Ocean’s 8 – Looks like a bit of fun but I don’t expect much more than that.
• Sicario 2: Soldado – I thought Sicario was fantastic despite it not being my type of genre at all. But different people are involved this time (no Villeneuve or Deakins!) so it’s hard to get overly excited about it.
May watch on Netflix:
Book Club, In The Fade, Adrift, Tag, Leave No Trace
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany
Music by John Powell & John Williams
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
I saw this at midnight last night. I’m exhausted! But I suppose I better do a quickie review before America gets to see this tonight (is that right?). Because I’m sure everyone is just dying to know my opinion as there’ll be NO other reviews to be found for this movie anywhere. Yeah, the other reviews will be much more detailed than mine. You won’t find that here. I’ll make this very quick and just let you know if I liked the latest Star Wars movie or not.
Yep! I liked it. I really really liked it. Not sure yet if I loved it, but… Maybe. I need to see it again. Here’s how I feel about all the new Star Wars movies (I’ve linked to my full reviews):
• The Force Awakens: LOVED it. Easily my favorite of the new ones.
• Rogue One: Certainly didn’t hate it but didn’t love it. Liked it okay but, overall, it just didn’t work for me. Felt the least “Star Wars” to me.
• The Last Jedi: Wasn’t happy with this at first. It has grown on me. I certainly like it much more than a lot of people seemed to but, depending on what they do with the final film, I could end up liking this one much more or much less. Really hope they do the final film right (I want it to be more like The Force Awakens).
My ranking? I don’t yet know until the final film but it’s currently probably The Force Awakens, then The Last Jedi or Solo (time will tell so I’ll make them a tie at the moment) and then Rogue One. My hubby’s order (HUGE Star Wars nut), if you’re interested, is currently: The Force Awakens, Solo, Rogue One, The Last Jedi. I was surprised he has Solo in second place so far but he did thoroughly enjoy it.
So onto Solo… As most people have said so far, this movie is a lot of fun. There seems to be a big backlash against this movie before people have even seen it. I truly don’t understand that. Is it just because they didn’t like The Last Jedi?? Wow, people are hard to please. I was shocked that the midnight showings for this at my cinema were completely dead. One screen had only six people! I love Star Wars and, no, I really don’t want to see its legacy ruined. Yes, I worry that The Last Jedi has started down that path. But let’s see how they handle the final film. And, in the meantime, let’s spend some time having fun with Han, Chewbacca & Lando since they’re fantastic characters we all love. I also saw a lot of people say “Oh, people are saying Solo is fun. That just means it’s bad”. Huh? Since when did people decide that movies aren’t meant to be fun anymore?! I want movies to be fun. I want to be entertained. Fun doesn’t automatically mean bad.
I think the most important thing to me was that they’d get our most beloved characters right. I think we all had our doubts about Alden Ehrenreich but I think he did a good job. Was he the perfect person for this role? Maybe not. But who could be? Han Solo is one of the most iconic (and coolest) characters of all time. Who can possibly do Han Solo justice?? I had no problem with Ehrenreich – I liked him as Han. And Donald Glover is great as Lando but I think we had already accepted him based on the trailers. He’s cool as f*^k. I loved seeing these two characters meeting and, even as I write this, I’m probably liking this movie even more as I think of young Han, Lando, and Chewbacca all meeting for the first time. I adored all their scenes together.
I thought all the new characters were pretty great as well. I’m not sure that I have any new absolute favorites but it’s very hard to top all of the original trilogy characters. I’m not going to get into the new additions, however, as I wish to remain completely spoiler free. I’ll just say that I liked the history that Han had with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), Woody Harrelson and his team of “can they be trusted?” misfits were a joy and the perfect fit to team up with Han & Lando, and the baddies were quite effective – they looked the part and were menacing.
What else can I say? This movie gave me what I wanted. It’ll never top the original trilogy but no new Star Wars movie ever will. I don’t expect that from any of the new movies. I think Ron Howard has done a great job with Solo, especially considering that it was such a troubled production. It stays very faithful to & respectful of the Star Wars legacy and does all the existing characters justice. There are some great “fan service” bits that are a real pleasure but don’t feel at all forced (they aren’t the type you’ll roll your eyes at – they’re just fun). Yeah. Fun! This movie is fun. Fun is good. Fun is what I wanted. It’s okay to have fun sometimes! Solo: A Star Wars Story is a good film and, for me, it’s a welcome addition to the Star Wars universe.