It was all over Twitter that the Studio Ghibli movies were gonna disappear from Netflix U.K. at the end of May. Even though I knew I’d already seen all the best ones by far, I’ve still been desperate to watch all the rest for years now as I adore Studio Ghibli. So I watched these remaining four before the 1st of June. The only one I have left to watch, which I want to see the most but have to wait since my family want to see it too, is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (but luckily I have the DVD).
Well, the Ghibli movies are still on Netflix. Oh well – it got me closer to my goal! 🙂
These four confirm that I had indeed already seen the best. I’ve ranked the four at the bottom of my ranked Ghibli list here on Letterboxd (the only other one at the bottom being Ocean Waves). But one of these was still quite delightful, one was perfectly fine but very forgettable, one had way too many testicles, and one was sadly not worthy of the Ghibli name.
I just want to add that for some stupid reason I completely forgot to mention the coolest thing I’ve done in a very long time back in January. I can’t believe I didn’t mention this in my January roundup post! I’m just not used to doing interesting real-life things that relate to my stupid little movie blog. 🙂 I went to see the live production of My Neighbor Totoro at The Barbican in London. It was absolutely AMAZING. It did the film justice without harming its legacy in any way. The way they represented the soot sprites was so clever and the Totoros they created were perfect. And the Cat Bus! The acting was brilliant as well. They couldn’t have done a better job with such a beloved movie & score. Am happy to see they’ve added more shows now. I’d very highly recommend it to all Studio Ghibli fans. And you almost got a picture of me at it but other people are in all the photos too close to me to cut them out so here’s a photo of the lobby instead. 😉
Now let’s review these rather disappointing Studio Ghibli movies…
My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999) (ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん, Hōhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun)
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The life and misadventures of a family in contemporary Japan.
A fun series of vignettes with a delightful & very relatable family. The format reminded me somewhat of the Peanuts skits, which I absolutely adore. It’s certainly not up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis (of course) and I’d rank it below most of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis as well but it’s still worthy of the Ghibli name. It‘s just so different from the style & wonderfully bizarre nature of the Ghibli films I love the most, which is why it won’t ever be a favorite for me personally. But it was a very sweet film & a pleasant watch.
My Rating: 7/10
Tales From Earthsea (2006) (ゲド戦記)
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Based on Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin & Shuna’s Journey by Hayao Miyazaki
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) In a mythical land, a man and a young boy investigate a series of unusual occurrences.
Not one of Studio Ghibli’s best (it’s hard to live up to those) but I can’t quite put my finger on why? It has Ghibli fantasy elements that I like & a Ghibli look. It’s a much more straightforward story & far less “strange” than my favorites, so maybe that’s why it’s less memorable? Seriously – I watched this a week ago & I barely remember it already. That’s not something you can say about their films like Spirited Away, etc. It’s a simple story with fairly unremarkable characters. That warlock was pretty cool, though. And quite terrifying, so this one wouldn’t be for really young kids. He was sort of a scary combination of Howl & of the wizard from Ponyo. Most memorable thing about this film. Oh, and the cool dragons too (which are barely in this).
I still enjoyed this & think it’s a good anime film, just not a great Ghibli film. I’d say it’s most similar to The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun, which isn’t a Ghibli film but may as well be as it’s from Isao Takahata & was also worked on by Hayao Miyazaki. I liked that one a bit more. Both are worth watching if you’re a very big Ghibli fan like I am & want to watch them all.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) A community of magical shape-shifting raccoon dogs struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.
I expected to like this one the most of these four as it looked the most bizarre, which is something I love about Ghibli. But I think it featured just a few too many testicles for my liking.
I did appreciate the weirdness of Pom Poko, although it’s not the beautiful & magical sort of weirdness that I love in the very best Ghiblis. Some of the humor was fun but the story was far darker than I was expecting. Between all the death & all the testicles, it’s certainly not one for the youngest Ghibli fans. And while I normally prefer memorable films to boring ones (and I will certainly never forget Pom Poko), I just wasn’t feeling this one. I’m glad I’ve watched it as I’ve been wanting to see all the Ghibli films but this isn’t one I’ll have any desire to watch again, which is unlike most of the studio’s other films I’ve happily watched multiple times. So I’ve ranked this below the rather bland & forgettable Tales From Earthsea as I liked that story much more & that one felt more like a Ghibli film to me.
Pom Poko was disappointing but, as I said, at least it was memorable. Seriously, though. What was with the testicles?! Okay – those bits were kind of hilarious. I’m giving this an extra half a point just for the balls.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Earwig And The Witch (2020) (アーヤと魔女, Āya to Majo)
Directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Based on Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An orphan girl, Earwig, is adopted by a witch and comes home to a spooky house filled with mystery and magic.
Oh dear. This is indeed the worst Studio Ghibli film. But if the Ghibli name wasn’t attached to it, would we all think it was so bad? It’s certainly not the worst animated film I’ve ever seen. I’d say it’s something along the lines of the weakest films from Illumination or DreamWorks such as Sing or Home. You know, the kind of stuff you’ll happily watch once with your young kids to keep them entertained and then hopefully not have to watch a hundred more times if they then decide that’s their favorite movie. But that’s not what we expect from Studio Ghibli, who have made so many gorgeous & brilliant films that I as well as my daughter adore and have watched many, many times. The animation in Earwig is so ugly by comparison. Unfortunately, the character is also quite unlikeable, which I wasn’t expecting. I think they were trying to make her seem “cheeky” and precocious but she crossed the line into slightly annoying too often. The story is okay, I guess. I like a story about witches but it was hard to be interested when I didn’t care about any of the underdeveloped characters. And I can see why people complain about the ending. It just stops so abruptly. Could we not get a little closure? At least a small explanation? I thought maybe we’d get a “here’s what happened next” as they had some images through the credits but they didn’t fill in enough of the blanks.
I don’t know. It’s just a very frustrating film. It’s not absolutely terrible. But it’s not Ghibli. In all honesty, I liked it enough that I’d watch a sequel if it promised to continue the story properly. And I thought the band was actually pretty cool. A sequel could focus more on that and maybe include flashbacks with some cool songs? But I think it’s safe to say that a sequel to the most widely hated Ghibli film is extremely unlikely.
Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m really hoping that 2023 is going to be a much better year than 2022. I kept on top of my Letterboxd reviews so here are all the reviews of everything I watched in December. There are a lot as I was trying to finish watching the 2022 releases that are on services but there are still loads more that I’ve missed…
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Millennium Actress – Thoroughly enjoyed this story of a legendary film actress discussing her life with two documentary filmmakers. Always like films exploring the lives of those involved in filmmaking & loved how her life story was told through her film roles. This is my third & I think probably now my favorite Satoshi Kon film. I’d highly recommend this as well as his films Tokyo Godfathers& the trippy Paprika. Will definitely be checking out Perfect Blue at some point too… – 8/10
– Only Yesterday – Had to get at least one Studio Ghibli movie watched before the end of this year. I adore Ghibli but am running out of ones to watch. Think I only have five left! What will I do after that?! (I’ve ranked all I’ve seen here)
This one, of course, isn’t up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis but is still a great film worthy of the studio. It’s a very grownup story and follows a young woman as her trip to the countryside brings back strong memories from when she was a fifth grade schoolgirl. I thought it portrayed very well how strong nostalgia can be and how our experiences while young can have such a strong influence on who we become as adults. Something that can seem insignificant to an adult may be something that a child coming of age will never forget. Enjoyed the scenes when she was a child the most and they gave me my own happy & sad memories from when I was that same age. Especially liked how the boys behaved & how awkward the boys & girls were around each other. The 1966 Japanese schoolkids in this behaved exactly the same as my American classmates did in the mid-80s, which put a smile on my face.
Another great film from Studio Ghibli & one of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2022. – 8/10
– Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.
Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.
Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years. – 7.5/10
– The Banshees Of Inisherin – Tried to end the year on a good 2022 film as I’ve been very disappointed with most of the movies released this year. I can’t say this lived up to my expectations based on the rave reviews but I did like it. It might just squeak into my top ten for the year.
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Kerry Condon are all very good in this & I can see them all being nominated for Oscars. The acting nominations would be well deserved. The film itself didn’t quite live up to the performances for me but I did like the story and the beautiful setting and that adorable donkey. I never thought I’d want a little donkey to live in my house & keep me company but I totally want that now.
I’m adding my review now as the year is over & I just want to get this posted but I’ve not fully sorted out my feelings on this movie yet. I wanted to like it more but it’s one I think could grow on me. I liked the dark humor & the characters & not knowing where the story was going to end up. Finally something unpredictable in 2022! But it’s also a slow film & not one I think I’d watch again even though I sometimes love a depressing film. It’s just so deeply sad & I felt awful for Farrell‘s character and I’m not sure I’d want to watch him go through all that again. I’ve been dumped by friends too. It sucks. I need a donkey.
I think In Bruges is still Martin McDonagh’s best and seeing this made me really want to rewatch that. Think this one may be just behind Three Billboards for me (they’re close) but I definitely preferred this to Seven Psychopaths. I’ll think about it a bit more. I think this may go up in my estimation but, man, it made me sad. – 7.5/10
– After Yang – Was looking forward to this as I really loved Kogonada‘s film Columbus. This one isn’t as good but I still liked it as I always love slow, thinky sci-fi and never tire of the exploration of life, death & what makes us human even though that’s been done to death in this genre. After Yang doesn’t really give us anything new on those themes but, like Columbus, it’s lovely to look at & I appreciated the score from the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m still working on my year-end movie rankings but this will rank highly for me as it’s right up my alley. I’m sure many would find this film far too slow with very little happening but I would definitely watch any further films from Kogonada based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7.5/10
– The Lodge – Really liked this slow burn psychological horror (but it’s exactly the type of thing I always enjoy). Good story and even better characters & performances. Really appreciated that the younger characters, played by Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh, felt very real especially in their grief. Riley Keough was also great as the new fiancée the kids don’t trust. And I always love a slightly creepy doll or dollhouse. – 7/10
– Men – I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror. I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.
Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022. – 7/10
– Scream(2022) – Thought this was one of the better recent horror, um, reboots/sequels/reimaginings/requels?? But maybe my standards are just very low as I think the majority are utter shit. It might help that, while I think the first Scream is great & a horror classic, I now don’t have much memory of any of its sequels & overall just never loved Scream to the same degree as A Nightmare On Elm Street (I’m old). So I didn’t mind seeing another Scream film setting up new characters & enjoyed this much more than other recent reboots or whatever-the-hell-they-are such as Halloween & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The killer reveal wasn’t at all surprising & the movie is pretty much just a rehash of the original Scream film but does it really matter? The new characters were fine & it will probably get a new generation into this series. I’ll certainly watch the next one but it would be great if it tried to do something a little less predictable.
And I agree with the Jenna Ortega character’s horror movie taste. I love The Babadook too.– 7/10
– Studio 666 – This looked like it would be bad bad instead of good bad so I had low expectations even though I love Dave Grohl & heavy metal & horror comedies. This movie was a blast. It’s not GREAT bad, like Road House, but it’s pure cheesy horror comedy fun. The acting was gloriously atrocious and you could tell that these guys must have had so many laughs while making this. It was also great seeing Taylor Hawkins (RIP) goofing off with Dave once again. A couple of the kills were hilariously inventive and I loved the movie band Dream Widow’s music (recorded by Grohl as a whole metal album because there’s nothing that dude can’t do). – 7/10
– Troll – This film follows every monster movie cliché imaginable… Which is EXACTLY what I want from a monster movie. It also has really likeable characters, funny nerds, a cute military guy and, most importantly, Norwegians & a massive troll. Therefore, I enjoyed it much more than most current Hollywood monster movies. – 7/10
– Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Enjoyed this but Knives Out was far superior so I did find it disappointing. It felt like it was trying too hard to be “wacky” and was just a bit too silly for me. The mystery also felt like an afterthought as the focus was more on how many big name stars they could get to play caricatures. This is sounding way more negative than it should… Glass Onion was fine. It was fun. It was just a little too goofy. I’d happily watch another Knives Out Mystery, though. I just want the next one to be more like the first film. – 6.5/10
– Marry Me – I liked this fine. Was better than I was expecting considering I didn’t even know it existed. Why have romcoms like this completely disappeared from cinemas? Not my favorite genre but I do miss these kind of movies from when they were mainstream & had big stars like in this one. Jennifer Lopez is good as a famous pop star (okay, not much of a stretch) who decides to marry random dude Owen Wilson in the audience at one of her concerts. The relationship is believable enough and they have surprisingly decent chemistry even though Lopez is entirely out of Wilson’s league. Still like Maid In Manhattan more but this was an enjoyably predictable romcom that I shouldn’t have discovered buried on one of my streaming services. – 6.5/10
– A Christmas Story Christmas – Being an American of a certain age, A Christmas Story is a Christmas Classic to me. I still clearly remember going to see it in the cinema when it was released & remember how much my dad & the audience were loving it. Was a little heartbroken when I moved to the U.K. and found that no one here likes it or even knows of it (my hubby hates it). So I was kind of excited to see a sequel all these years later but of course also very nervous as it had the potential to go very wrong.
I’d say it hasn’t done any damage to the original but, as with most of these sort of sequels, it also didn’t feel necessary. It was nice seeing so many of the original cast again in the same roles. Julie Hagerty replacing Melinda Dillon threw me out of things a bit, though. She was fine – I just hate different actors playing the same character. I had enough of that in American soap operas. The fan service scenes, and there were a lot, were fine by me. It’s a Christmas favorite & people just want to see the same thing again. To do anything too different from the original is too much of a risk with something like this so they played it very safe. It makes it a little boring, though. It’s pleasant & heartwarming & of course Christmassy but I’d feel no need to watch it again. I’ll stick with rewatching the original if I want to get into the Christmas spirit. – 6.5/10
– Good Luck To You, Leo Grande – I wish Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually could have had a Leo Grande. Thompson & Daryl McCormack are great together in this and he’s so damn handsome. A pleasurable film. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. – 7/10
– Barbarian – Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård. The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending.
I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer. – 6/10
– Shiva Baby – Another movie that didn’t live up to its cool poster. I do like dark comedy revolving around awkward social situations as I can always relate to being socially awkward so I enjoyed some of that here & really liked the parents. But I do struggle with characters who are just a little too unlikeable & self-absorbed so that was a bit frustrating. Rachel Sennott was very good in this, though – I’d be interested in seeing her in another role. I thought the film was well acted, it portrayed the pressure so often put on us by friends & family accurately, and it had an interesting score from what I can remember. It’s the type of film I can say I appreciated more than actually enjoyed. A “worth a one-time watch” movie for me. – 6.5/10
– Your Christmas Or Mine? – Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many Christmas romance movies. This one was cute enough, with a young couple deciding last minute to each go to the other person’s house for Christmas & then getting stranded & having to spend it with people they’d not yet met. Hilarity ensues! The girl’s family were really likeable & the story was extremely predictable but that’s what you want from a Christmas romcom, right? Worth watching once to get into the Christmas spirit but not one I’d add to my list of movies to watch every December.– 6/10
– Uncharted – An inoffensive & forgettable Indiana Jones crossed with The Goonies. But, you know, not nearly as good or as enjoyable as either of those. It passed the time. I saw it about a week ago & I’m already forgetting what happened in it besides some really dodgy OTT action shit involving planes & flying ships. – 6/10
– My Father’s Dragon – This was fine. It’s very “cute” and aimed quite young, which is a shame as it won’t appeal to all ages as much. I found the story a bit messy. The dragon was funny but in that borderline annoying kind of way (reminded me of Olaf from Frozen). Didn’t realize until finishing that it was a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some nice animation but it’s not in the same league as others from the studio such as The Secret Of Kells & Wolfwalkers. – 6/10
– The Bad Guys – Shouldn’t say much about this as I had it on while wrapping some gifts so admit I wasn’t paying much attention. It seemed like a decent enough heist movie with an extremely predictable story & villain but was probably fun for kids while also being fairly entertaining for their parents. Can’t say it made me want to stop what I was doing to fully watch it or to bother rewatching it at any point. I liked the snake dressed like he was in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, though. – 6/10
– About Fate – A romcom as predictable as expected but the setup at the start of the movie was cute enough. The characters had okay chemistry but the Emma Roberts character was too flaky for me to like and everyone kept making annoyingly bad decisions. There’s also a hateful influencer but at least she’s seen as the shallow baddie. The coat story was nice, though. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10
– Rosaline – I’ve clearly been trying to watch what I can of 2022 releases on services before this year ends. This was fine but yet another film I only watched as it’s a 2022 film on services & I’m not going to the cinema anymore to see what I most want to see. I’ve watched way too many movies that I wouldn’t have even bothered watching in the cinema. Depressing.
I appreciated the story in this, though. At least it felt original, which I can’t say of many current films. But I found most the characters slightly annoying including Kaitlyn Dever’s, who was fine in the role, but I’m not really a fan of any of her work that I’ve seen. To be fair, as I was watching this to “cross it off a list” at the last minute before the New Year, I probably didn’t give it much of a chance & wasn’t giving it my full attention. I just wish I could’ve seen more of the movies I really wanted to see in 2022. – 5.5/10
– The Northman – Tweeted five minutes into watching this thing that “I don’t have the patience for this shit”. And now I don’t have the patience for this review. That’s three Robert Eggers films I’ve suffered through now & I still can’t figure out what everyone sees in them. But I’ve decided that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. – 5/10
– Zola – Knew this was based on a Twitter thread so figured it must be a fascinating story to have been made into a movie. I was bored & the characters were annoying as hell. I’ve read many Twitter threads that were far more interesting than this story. It felt like this wanted to be a “smart” Spring Breakers (which I enjoyed for some bizarre reason) but this just felt even more shallow & pointless. To sound less negative, I’ll say that Taylour Paige & Riley Keough were good in the roles. But I couldn’t wait for the film to end. And then it didn’t even give us a proper ending anyway… – 5/10
– White Noise – I’ve not logged this film on Letterboxd as I didn’t watch it but it’s worth a mention here. I’ll watch any old shit & in my desperation to see more 2022 releases that I can watch at home, I put this on despite already knowing I tend to hate Noah Baumbach films. Think I managed maybe fifteen minutes? Good Lord, this thing was fucking unwatchable. Absolute torture. It’s not often that I completely give up on a movie so it’s getting the first ever Cinema Parrot Disco zero rating – 0/10
Shorts & Specials Watched In December:
– Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery – This was pretty dumb.
– Rewatched some of my usual Christmas favorites:Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol & Home Alone.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN DECEMBER
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Alice In Borderland: S2– I complained a bit about season 1 of this as, while it started out very strong, I didn’t like the final few episodes when the focus was no longer on the games & they spent far too long on unimportant & annoying characters. But this show really picked up again in season two & I ended up liking this entire show a lot. In fact, we’ve started rewatching it again from the start as it’s the kind of story where, once you get the full explanation (which you luckily DO), it’s good to rewatch from the start with a new perspective. Good stuff. Glad season two got back to the games, some of which were really cool, andback to characters we actually care about.Highly recommend if you liked Squid Game (but that one is still superior).
– The White Lotus: S2 E6-7 – Really enjoyed both seasons of this. I think the first season was a bit better but this one was still good too & the characters were great. Loved Jennifer Coolidge in both of these. Hope we get another season…
– Wednesday: S1 E2-8– Liked this show just fine. Daughter was very into it. I’d watch more if they did another season. I saw way too much of Jenna Ortega in December, though.
– Cabinet Of Curiosities: S1 E1-2 – First two episodes were okay but I wasn’t blown away. Will watch the rest when I get time.
– It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E4-5 – Still working my way through this. Really like the two brothers but the girl is such an odd character.
– The Peripheral: S1 E1 – Forgot I’d watched this. I’m intrigued but hope it gets better?
– I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Okay, I read another YA book but I don’t care – I like them. And I really liked this one & thought it was one of the better YA books I’ve read in quite a while. The twins were great & complex characters and I like how the story was told from their perspectives at different points in their lives. Good stuff. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.” – 4/5
I’m currently halfway through Fairy Tale by Stephen King & really enjoying it.
Blog Plans For The Coming Month:
Will try to post all my year end ranked lists this week if I have the energy. Very disappointing year for new movies.
I feel like I should end this post with something from the Studio 666 band Dream Widow. Happy New Year!
Oops. Guess I better post this before the end of the year. And I’ll try to finish the year by posting what I watched in December but probably gonna need a break after that. 🙂
MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Drifting Home – Really enjoyed this. It’s a pretty typical anime with young characters who can be overly dramatic but I really liked the creative story & themes of memory, loss, and friendship. Starts out a little slow but really gets going once they start “drifting” away and there was some lovely animation. One of my favorite 2022 releases that I’ve seen. – 7.5/10
– Anomalisa – I appreciate most of Charlie Kaufman’s work but can’t say I’ve ever loved any of it. Anomalisa really worked for me, though. I’m not sure why. Think I could relate to the film’s main character in some ways & I liked Lisa (am also a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh so that helped too). Am always happy to see a film that feels unique & I really liked the story. Glad I finally gave this one a chance.
Oh – I also liked seeing “Starburns Industries” as the production company which made me go “Ha! Like Star-Burns in Community!” then finding out later that was actually the case as it was co-founded by Community creator Dan Harmon & Star-Burns himself Dino Stamatopoulos. So, hey – I like the Community link because that show rules. – 8/10
– Glengarry Glen Ross – ACTORS ACTING.
I didn’t know just how many big names were in this but, when I looked it up, it was seeing Jack Lemmon’s name that made me hit the Play button. Wow, he was great. Everyone in this was clearly trying for an Oscar nomination so I was very surprised to see that only Al Pacino was nominated just for being, well, Al Pacino yet again. They all deserve recognition for these roles but I thought Lemmon, Baldwin & Pacino (even though he’s just being Pacino) especially stood out.
If you like plays & intense ACTING from some all-time great actors, this is the film for you. It’s not really the type of film for me & not one I’d rewatch but I’ve rated it highly for the performances & the script & for Jack Lemmon. Well worth watching just to see these guys in action. – 7.5/10
– Relic – This was good. Reminded me a lot of another recent(ish) Australian horror The Babadook, which I absolutely loved & was also a very clever allegory (or is it a metaphor?! I always confuse those!). This is the type of “horror” I like. Found it quite heartbreaking. Need more horror films like this one. – 7/10
– My Summer Of Love – Enjoyed this English countryside drama with strong performances from Natalie Press as a working class girl who falls for rich girl Emily Blunt in her debut film role (and naked). Paddy Considine is also good as the born-again Christian brother of Press. Liked the relationship & how the film ended. From the director of Cold War. Check it out on BBC iPlayer. – 7/10
– Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – This was fun. Liked that it was a parody of a biography, which is the only thing that would make sense for a Weird Al movie. Especially liked the stuff with Madonna & some fun cameos. It’s not as good as his music videos, though, and certainly not in the same league as something like This Is Spinal Tap. But certainly worth a watch for Weird Al fans. – 6.5/10
– My Policeman – This was fine. I liked the story (I always love years of yearning) but the complete lack of chemistry between all the characters meant that the story didn’t have the emotional impact that I’m sure it probably had in the book. Everyone mentions Harry Styles but I was equally unimpressed with most of the performances except for maybe David Dawson’s. An okay film but may have been better with different leads. – 6.5/10
– The Wonder – Good atmosphere & could have used a lot more of the eerie music which I quite liked. Not gonna lie, though: “Florence Pugh” & “Period Drama” are two things that aren’t going to get me excited about watching a movie. Not my type of thing at all but this was an intriguing story, the young girl was good, and I liked the conclusion. Hated how they started & finished the film, though. Totally threw me out of the movie. – 6.5/10
– See How They Run – This movie, as most 2022 streaming releases, was okay. But that’s the problem… I’m so bored with okay movies. At least the ones I really hate tend to be more memorable. I thought Sam Rockwell & Saoirse Ronan worked really well together, though, which made this somewhat dull mystery far more watchable than it would have been without them. There’s some fun humor too. Certainly not a bad film but I know I’ll forget it even exists in a year. – 6.5/10
– Disenchanted – Wow, this was terrible. I shouldn’t “review” it as I fell asleep & missed a big chunk in the middle but I refuse to rewatch it. I saw enough to know I don’t want it to ruin the fun & original first film so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist just like I do with the Disney live-action remakes. Still love Amy Adams, though. She’s still lovely & did what she could with this absolute mess. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched In November:
– Father Of The Bride – Watched this with the family. Been many years since I last saw this one. I’d say it’s actually held up better than some of the early ‘90s rom-coms. We could use more good father/daughter family films. This is sweet without being overly saccharine. The only annoying bit was when she freaked out over a blender. What?! I don’t remember us being offended by trivial things back in 1991. Also… Steve Martin’s family are meant to be “middle class” compared to the fiancé’s family but live in a big gorgeous house in a lovely neighborhood and can afford a ridiculously expensive wedding. Cry me a river! My daughter loved Martin Short, though. Think she’s a fan since seeing Martin & Short together in Only Murders In The Building. His character is fun & does threaten to steal the whole show in this film. – 7/10
Shorts Watched In November:
– Zen – Grogu & Dust Bunnies – Studio Ghibli & Grogu?! Two of my favorite things ever?!? My heart just about exploded when I watched this. Now if they could add in Totoro, R2-D2, WALL-E & Snoopy I’d need no new media to ever be made again. Loved this. So adorable & peaceful. And Ludwig Göransson‘s score is brilliant (as always). Works beautifully with the Ghibli style.
– The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special – This was…. Not great. Very cheesy. But did like seeing more of Drax & Mantis together.
– Minions & More – Yeah, I like the minions. I don’t care. I think they’re funny.
– The Wonderful Autumn Of Mickey Mouse – Bit of an odd one… Wasn’t really a fan. Give me old school Mickey Mouse.
– Zootopia Shorts – Meh. Not big on the movie but these shorts were fine (except that dumb Real Housewives one because god I can’t stand that type of shit…)
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER
Been watching quite a bit of TV. Which is fine but it’s cutting into movie-time. 🙂
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The White Lotus: S2 E1-5 – Really liked the first series & feel the same about this one. Good characters & I always like a murder mystery where you don’t know who ends up being the victim. But, mainly, it’s all about Jennifer Coolidge. Love her. Best thing about The White Lotus.
– Wednesday: S1 E1 – Think we’d only seen one episode in November but now seen through episode 5. Enjoying the story and the characters are growing on me. Teen daughter seems to love it so that makes me happy.
– Andor: S1 E9-12 – Ended up thinking this was a really good series overall after a few episodes I wasn’t feeling so much. All the prison stuff & the funeral were fantastic. A very strong couple of episodes at the end of this series.
– House Of The Dragon: S1 E8-10 – Was gonna write more about this now I’m finished but can’t be arsed. 🙂 It’s fine but definitely inferior to Game Of Thrones. Much better character development in Thrones. I’ll again say I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra. And the incest is just fucking nuts in this one. Game Of Thrones was bad enough with that. Ew.
Also been rewatching the pilots of various old ’70s & ’80s shows on YouTube for the nostalgia. Never see this stuff re-run in the U.K. Very much missing the sitcoms of my youth. Really enjoyed rewatching the pilots of It’s Your Move, The Facts Of Life, Benson & Taxi.
– Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – Ended up really enjoying this trilogy (review of first book here and second book here). It’s one of those made much better by turning the story into a trilogy & really getting to know the character of Gwendy. I liked how they went all out in the final book. I mean, she manages to get herself up into space in order to try to finally rid the planet of the dangerous button box. That could’ve turned out ridiculous but I thought it worked well & I always love a story set in space. Also enjoyed King having fun with the rich asshole character who is SO obviously modelled on Tr*mp. – 3.5/5
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Gonna try to catch up on watching as many 2022 films as I can before the year ends. Man, 2022 has been another shit year for movies! Massively disappointing. As far as what’s made it to streaming, at least. Hoping some of what I missed in cinemas was good.
As I adored Ghibli Grogu & Ludwig Göransson‘s score, I need to end with a clip of that music:
I started this project, my IMDb Top 250 Challenge, on the 1st of January 2013 having already seen 151 of the 250 movies in the Top 250 IMDb list at that time. My goal was to watch the remaining 99. I’m taking my time but, eight years later, I’ve managed to watch 65. Only 34 left to go!
I figured it was time to make more of an effort to watch the remaining 34. I’m putting a list together of those remaining, which I’ll post in a few days. Would like to hear from people on which of those 34 I should try to watch first. 🙂
I’ll also soon post about a new project, the Best Picture Project, which I know many people have done. A far easier project as that list always stays the same with just one new addition each year! There are only 31 Best Picture Oscar Winners I’ve not seen (not too bad, right?). There are also several films on both the Top 250 & Best Picture lists that I need to see so might as well kill two birds with one stone.
For now, I thought it was be fun to rank the 65 movies I’ve watched so far for the Top 250 challenge. So here are My IMDb Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite & With Links To My Reviews):
In 2016, I did take the new IMDb Top 250 list to see if there were any new additions I’d not seen. There were lots of new ones but only 14 I’d not seen. I’m working through those too (as well as any on the current list), but the 2013 list is my first priority. Here are 5 of the 14 I’ve watched so far from the 2016 list:
***IMDb Top 250 New Additions As Of 01/01/2016 Watched:***
Happy March, everyone! I watched way too many movies in February. To be fair, though, I did have a week off of work so what else was I going to do?! 🙂
Here are my quickie reviews of every movie & TV show I watched (and two books I read)…
MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):
– Les Diaboliques – I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.) The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955. – 7.5/10
– Willy’s Wonderland – I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential. He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing. – 7.5/10
**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…
– The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – Not gonna lie: YA books & movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. Think this one was just a short story instead of a full novel and I’ve not read it but I thought the movie was quite enjoyable. It’s a good story with likeable characters & that’s all I ask for from this genre. It’s also yet another “Groundhog Day” setup. How many times can this same thing be done?! I think it doesn’t matter as long as the story still manages to feel like it has a unique twist on having to live the same day over & over and this movie doesachieve that. Let’s see… Edge Of Tomorrow is still obviously the best film since Groundhog Day with this theme but I’d have to say I preferred The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things to the Happy Death Day movies & Before I Fall. Recommended if you do like the YA genre & a good story. – 7.5/10
**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…
– Palmer – I really enjoyed this movie, even though I don’t always go for dramas. It depends on the characters & I liked the characters in this. Justin Timberlake was good as a guy just out of prison who has to try to make a new start & I liked Alisha Wainwright as the teacher of the young boy Timberlake’s character finds himself stuck with when the boy’s troubled mother disappears. The true star is the boy, however, played by Ryder Allen. He’s adorable & super likeable. I think movies often don’t get kids’ characters quite right. They’re sometimes just so obviously saying lines written by an adult screenwriter so it feels awkward (see review below for an example). They don’t act like real kids that age would act. Or, more often, they’re made to be far too “bratty”, which isn’t very realistic either. Not saying kids are never bratty (because they certainly are!!) but I hate how it’s so exaggerated in movies. The boy in this seems real & you just want him to have the best possible life. Yes, the film may be quite predictable & it’s nothing we haven’t seen before but a predictable feelgood film doesn’t exactly do anyone any harm. I liked it. – 7/10
– All The President’s Men – I have a confession: This is NOT my type of film. At all. I just very rarely enjoy “historical dramas”. Same goes for true crime. Man, I hate true crime! I have no interest in all the true crime stuff on Netflix that people always go on about. I don’t know why. But I especially hate politics & crime & most of the crappy stuff that goes on in real life. I mainly watch movies for escapism so often go for sci-fi or fantasy or horror. Or, well, any genre really as long as it’s fiction. If I want a genuinely true story, I’ll watch a documentary.
I thought I’d give this one a chance, though, as it’s a respected classic and I really like Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman. Yeah. It’s good. I guess it’s what you’d call a slow burn as you watch the story gradually unfold through the eyes of the reporters. It felt very “real” but, me being the person-least-interested-in-history-in-the-history-of-history, I haven’t got the slightest clue as to how accurate this movie is on the whole Watergate Richard Nixon thingy. Redford & Hoffman are great (as always). Everyone looks very ’70s which is also great (as always). I ended up playing on my phone through most of this, though, and only kind of paid attention when I realised they were talking to the Deep Throat guy (only porn movie I own!).
I’m sorry. I’m a terrible, terrible movie blogger. This is a classic & I lost interest & I played on my phone & I still have no knowledge of Watergate. But, hey – it’s super tame anyway compared to all the political bullshit these days! Watergate seems like child’s play now. I’ll give this movie a decent score but know it deserves an even higher rating. And speaking of child’s play, it certainly deserves a higher rating than what I gave the Child’s Play 2019 reboot! But I also gave that a 7/10 (it was fun)… – 7/10
– Level 16 – No, this movie isn’t exactly the best or most original thing ever made but it IS very much my type of story so I quite enjoyed it. It’s on Netflix & this is the plot synopsis from Wikipedia: “Level 16 is a 2018 sci-fi thriller by filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy. It follows a group of girls who live at a “school” which educates them about how to be perfect young women for families that they are told will eventually adopt them. Two girls work together to uncover the truth about their captivity.” By the way, do NOT look this up on IMDb if you want to see it. The images they show ruin the whole story! WTF? So I knew what was going to happen. But I still enjoyed it. Being someone who grew up loving The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have guessed the ending of this movie anyway as it’s pretty predictable if you watch as much of this sort of thing as I do. I suppose you younger people may also know what to expect if you like Black Mirror. But this is still worth a watch if you like mysterious sci-fi thrillers. – 6.5/10
– I Care A Lot – I hadn’t planned on watching this until it ended up being so divisive on Twitter. Man, some people really hate this movie! But others seemed to really enjoy it. Well, movies with such a strong reaction always get me curious so I checked it out expecting to absolutely hate it as I usually despise hateful characters. I want characters to like & to root for!
I enjoyed this film. It’s not one I’ll ever watch again but I enjoyed the ride & thought the performances were good. It goes a bit overboard at the end but, whatever, it’s just a movie so that never really bothers me. And, with everyone going on about how evil these characters are, I thought they’d be far worse. Seriously?! Yeah, Rosamund Pike & Peter Dinklage are assholes. But that’s the whole point? We’re not meant to like them. And there have been many characters in movies just as bad & also much worse. Why such a strong reaction to these characters? Seems strange. I’d also point out that they both have one other person who they clearly love & do truly care about. That’s more than can be said for a lot of “evil” movie characters.
Anyway. I liked this far more than I was expecting so it was a nice surprise. I especially liked Dianne Wiest (always makes me think of The Lost Boys & Edward Scissorhands – she has a great filmography!) & Eiza González was very good as well. So there are two characters who are a little less evil if you really can’t handle Pike & Dinklage. I’d almost give this a higher rating but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me. I’d say just don’t necessarily avoid it based on people being all weird about it. – 6.5/10
– Greenland – This was a perfectly fine disaster movie. Not the best but certainly not the worst of this genre. The characters were more likeable than in some of them (I especially liked Scott Glenn as the grandfather). I think we’re all just desperate for blockbuster action movies during lockdown??? So everyone seems to be giving it slightly more praise than it may actually deserve. We’d probably be more harsh on it if we weren’t all stuck indoors with nothing but mediocre Netflix stuff to watch. Compared to most of the straight-to-streaming films we’ve had in the past year, this is one of the better ones. Still far prefer Deep Impact but this was at least less cheesy than Armageddon. – 6.5/10
– 9 – Somehow missed out on this when released even though its style is the type of thing I like plus I love anything post-apocalyptic. It’s a bit Tim Burton-esque. Which makes sense, as he produced it (he saw & liked the original 9 short film, so produced this feature length film). I wanted to like this one more, as I loved the look and it had so many great names involved. Here’s the synopsis & its stars from Wikipedia: “The film stars the voice of Elijah Wood as a small ragdoll-like robot who awakens shortly after the end of mankind, and must find eight other robots to figure out the mystery behind humanity’s destruction while tangling with the vicious creations of a massive soul-stealing machine, alongside other voices of John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover with Martin Landau and Fred Tatasciore.” I think the story just kind of fell apart plus I wasn’t crazy about the ending. Still a great looking film, though, and am glad to have finally seen it. – 6.5/10
– Malcolm & Marie – This was fine. Not sure how to go about reviewing it. It certainly had some issues & some of it came across a bit too “I’m a brilliant filmmaker and my movies are masterpieces and everyone else is an idiot”. Malcolm was hateful as hell as the pretentious filmmaker and complete asshole of a boyfriend. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else that Sam Levinson has done but, looking at his filmography, it doesn’t look all that impressive (does he see himself as Malcolm??). Movies that come across too condescending do annoy the hell out of me. I had the same issues with Marriage Story (I hated that). I didn’t hate this one but I can’t see myself ever wanting to watch it again. Zendaya is definitely the best thing about the film & she does a great job. It’s worth watching just for her performance. John David Washington is good as well, I guess, as he certainly manages to make you hate his character. And people moaned about the characters being too hateful in I Care A Lot?!? Honestly, the guy was a prick. I kind of wanted her to stab him. That would have been a fun turn of events! It would be cool for a movie to go from being all arthouse pretentious to some f*^ked up horror movie like From Dusk Till Dawn at the end. I want to see that version of Malcolm & Marie! I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for the good performances. It also made me want some good ‘ol American Mac & Cheese. – 6.5/10
– It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – This was… Fine? Man, I’ve seen so many “fine” movies in the past year. I’m bored!! Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.” Emma Roberts is in this. And that guy in the photo who I know from nothing else (Keir Gilchrist. Oops – looks like he was in It Follows, which I loved). And Zach Galifianakis, the dude everyone thought was the guy in the Robert Redford meme on Twitter. It’s a predictable but harmless film. Meh. – 6/10
– Finding ‘Ohana – This was fine too. Kind of Goonies-light. Very much aimed at kids, so it wasn’t really for me, but I could see why a kid might really like this one. The characters are fun and they mention “nips” a lot. And one of the girls loves Keanu Reeves, which is totally understandable. Cute movie but watch it with a kid of 11 or younger. – 6/10
– News Of The World – This movie probably deserves a higher rating. To be fair, I watched it knowing it’s not really at all my type of thing. I think I just feel like I should watch any big new releases that other bloggers are talking about but I’ve been underwhelmed with 90% of the newer films released on streaming services in the past year. Hanks was his usual Hanks-self & the girl was pretty good (Helena Zengel). And I was pretty bored. It ended well, though. So that’s nice. – 6/10
– Over The Moon – This started out strong but I lost interest halfway through (and may have fallen asleep for a while). It’s a cute movie with a likeable girl and fun younger boy and adorable pet rabbit. It’s also a musical but the songs aren’t very good. It may have actually been better without the songs. It’s also another movie very much aimed at kids (mine is a bit too old for it & seemed bored by the end). Am sure young kids would like it and the super cute pet bunny, though. – 5.5/10
– In Fabric – This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.
I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to. I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five movies involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric). – 5/10
– Saint Frances – Didn’t like this one. This is just one of those movies where you don’t really care about anyone. The main character is boring & self-absorbed. The only decent characters are the cute young girl & her mother who has a new baby so needs to hire the main character as a nanny to help take of her. Where I mentioned in the review for Palmer above that a lot of writers don’t seem to know how to write child characters? This is one of those. The girl is super cute and I think 5 or 6 years old but talks like an adult sometimes. It doesn’t work. And I know I did a list of My Top Ten Period Dramas but there was waaaaay too much of that in this movie. No thanks. – 5/10
Shorts & Miscellaneous
– Wayne & Garth for Uber Eats – I’m a huge Wayne’s World fan. I (kind of) reviewed it HERE. I love Wayne and adore Garth and they’re the two movie characters I’d probably most like to hang out with. I couldn’t believe it when I found out there was a two and a half hour Wayne & Garth Uber Eats “ad”. There is! It’s HERE! And I watched all of it. It was the perfect thing to just stick on in the background – it really feels like you’re just hanging out with Wayne & Garth in Wayne’s basement. There are a couple of guest stars too (one of them is super cool but not a surprise to fans). Highly recommend leaving this on one day if you’re a fan of these guys & just want to hang out with them for a couple of hours.
– The Breakfast Club – It would have been the 71st birthday of John Hughes in February & we felt like rewatching a couple of his films. I also again shared all the links to all the guest reviews from the John Hughes Blogathon I had here. Well, I already reviewed The Breakfast Club at the above link so won’t do that here. I’ll just say that I still love it now as much as I did in the ’80s. It’s still my favorite Hughes movie. – 9/10
– The Matrix – Thought it was time to introduce this one to the kid. She loved it! She does love a really interesting concept. I have to admit I’d not rewatched it in years, especially after the horrible sequels. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this again & think it has aged very well. I’m now maybe a bit more excited about The Matrix 4 (even though the last two were huge disappointments). We’ll see. It won’t live up to the first film, though. It really is a modern classic. – 8.5/10
– Sixteen Candles – Watched this one too in honor of John Hughes. It’s another favorite (reviewed in full in my link). – 8.5/10
– Ponyo – Rewatching a lot of my Studio Ghibli favorites. Again, I won’t go into this as I reviewed it in full at the link but I love Ghibli & Ponyo is great. Am also very happy to have introduced another blogger to Studio Ghibli via this film, which she chose as the first one to check out. You can read Claire’s review of PonyoHERE at Cinematic Delights. Think we may have a new Ghibli fan! 🙂 – 8/10
– Catch Me If You Can – Still love this Steven Spielberg movie. Think it doesn’t get quite as much attention as his other films but it’s such a fascinating true story plus Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio & Christopher Walken are all fantastic. Highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it. – 8/10
– Tremors – Hadn’t watched this one in years after watching it many times in my teens. I remember this being on TV all the time in America. It’s unfortunately one that ended up being not quite as good as I remembered but it’s still a really fun monster movie slash horror comedy. – 7/10
– The Devil Wears Prada – I do enjoy this movie, despite finding Anne Hathaway annoying & not being a big “chick flick” girl and not being into fashion whatsoever (what a stupid waste of money). But the story is fun, Emily Blunt is entertaining, and Meryl Streep is great as a complete & total bitch. She’d get along with Malcolm! Hey, this character is super hateful but people don’t moan about this movie like they moaned about I Care A Lot… Oh, I also admit that I like any movie that has a makeover scene. Why?!? No idea. Oh, and I also like Stanley Tucci. This is one of the better “chick flicks”. I shouldn’t call it that, though. I hate that term. This is a good film. What do we call the equivalent male films starring the likes of Steven Seagal, etc? Those don’t get condescending names, do they?! And there are some terrible “bro movies”. – 7.5/10
– Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Another rewatch that wasn’t as good as I’d remembered. Still think it’s a fun film, though, and there’s nothing else quite like it so I like that as I watch too many movies that all feel the same. It’s very of its time, though, so can see its fans mainly being of the right age when this came out who have a thing for all the fairly big name actors in it. They’ll be nostalgic for it the same way that I am for ’80s movies that don’t necessarily translate to a new, younger audience. – 7/10
– The Maze Runner – I remember quite liking this when it came out. It even made me buy the books after so I could read them (even though I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie). Wow, those books were disappointing!! Maybe that’s partly why I didn’t enjoy this film as much on the rewatch, as I know how terrible the sequels were and how strange the books were. Too bad, as this first movie is still a decent film in the YA dystopian genre. – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Moon by James Herbert – Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year. Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff… – 2.5/5
– Iggie’s House by Judy Blume – As I said, libraries have been closed for a year so I’m grabbing whatever books are around the house. I stocked up on Judy Blume books from charity shops for my kid years ago as I grew up on Blume’s books. I’d actually not read this one as a kid and I’m obviously not the target audience now (the kid is too old for it now too – Damn, I don’t think she read all the Judy Blumes I got her!). It’s about racism & obviously seems dated now plus it’s overly simplistic. But it’s also clearly aimed at very young kids so I suppose it’s a good introduction to this sort of topic for them. The kids in it are good characters & they don’t fully understand the adults & their behaviour. It’s written from the point of view of an 11-year-old girl & I think Blume does well to get inside the head of a kid this age. Like I said above, many adults don’t seem to know how to write kids but Blume does, which is why kids liked her books at the time (don’t think they’re as popular now, unfortunately, due to many probably seeming dated). – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Muppet Show – Watched four or five of these when they showed up on Disney Plus. Loved how excited everyone was on Twitter! Everyone seemed to be watching them at the same time. This show is a classic & it’s amazing how much I giggled while watching these again despite being an adult (well, not sure I’m an adult but I’m old). I absolutely adore the genuinely funny family comedy in this show. It’s brilliant. The two best we’ve rewatched so far are the Rita Moreno & Mark Hamill episodes (obviously seen the Hamill one many times, though). Wish we had access to ALL of them but think certain episodes, such as the Johnny Cash one, have been pulled? Well, at least that 12 second message they’ve slapped onto the start of each episode of this amazing show gives you time to go grab a snack. Guess we just have to be thankful that they let us watch some stuff from the past still? It won’t last. Grab this stuff on DVD before they go fully Fahrenheit 451 on our asses.
– WandaVision: Season 1 Episodes 5-8 – Really been enjoying this even though I’m not a huge Marvel fan (seen all the MCU films, though). I do like how original this show feels as I was getting bored with all the superhero stories, which all end up being exactly the same in all the films. Although, the same thing is obviously happening on this show now as more is being revealed & they’re no longer on the “classic TV sitcom” thing, which was fun. Also, I’ve never seen an episode of Modern Family – it was more fun when I understood the references. The penultimate episode was a bit of a letdown but it needed to lead into the finale at the end of this week, so it did well in getting us all excited for the final episode. Really looking forward to it & will be sure to avoid Twitter on Friday until I’ve seen it.
– 21 Jump Street: Season 1 Episodes 1 (double Episode) & 2 – This is on Amazon Prime U.K., FYI. Being Gen X, I loved this show at the time & was of course in love with Johnny Depp. Forced my kid to watch the first few episodes. She likes it so far. Yay! I was surprised as it’s admittedly a bit dated. There was also a guest star in the first one whose acting was truly abysmal & we both had a good laugh over that. Hoping to watch some more, as I know it got better & also a bit more serious later on.
– Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 1-11– This is on Disney Star. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone! Am pretty sure we’re the only family watching it as clearly no one has complained about it yet to force a 12 second warning message onto it. I’d seen some of these at the time (off & on – I had a young baby). I’d kind of forgotten about it & how funny it was. We’re loving watching these (especially the kid as it’s borderline inappropriate). What can I say? I love sitcoms about dysfunctional American families. They’re the only types of sitcoms I’ve ever really gone for. I hate “perfect” families. Give me the f*#ked up ones! Can see why I like this, as it’s created by the same guy (Greg Garcia) who did My Name Is Earl. Loved that too.
– The Crown: Season 3 Episode 3 – Still seriously not feeling the new cast in The Crown, which is probably why we’ve slowed way down on watching these. Man, Claire Foy & Co were so much better!! Episode 3 of Season 3 (Aberfan) was really good. A very tragic story I knew of but didn’t know much about. Heartbreaking. Will try to watch more as want to get to the Diana years but am not loving the show currently.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I’m going to try to get back onto watching films for my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge as I only have 34 of those 250 left to watch. I’ll post about that sometime soon & rank the 65 that I’ve watched for the project so far.
I’m also going to start a Best Picture Oscar Project & try to watch all the Best Picture Oscar Winners. Will post about that closer to Oscar-time. I just realised after watching It Happened One Night in January that I’ve seen a lot of the winners anyway (there are only 31 I have yet to see).
I’d also planned to stick a list of my favorite old movies recently added to Disney Star U.K. at the end of this post but it’s ended up long enough already so I won’t bore you with my weird taste in movies. I’ll just say that I’m super excited that Ladyhawke & Can’t Buy Me love are on there, so that gives you an idea of my Gen X tastes. Maybe I’ll bore you all with a separate post about it.
Let’s end with a classic clip from The Muppet Show…
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). – 8/10
**Decided to up the rating to 8…
– 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 Academyslightly 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
– 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
– 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.
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 REVIEWEDIN 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
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 Royaleafter 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).
– 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:
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!)
– 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
– 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
– 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
– 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
– 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
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.
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…
– 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
– 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
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…
Happy October, everyone! I won’t be doing a month of horror posts like usual as I don’t have the time but I may try to do a couple of horror-related posts as I watched quite a few “scary” films in the past year. But first I’ll do a quick roundup of everything I watched in September.
• Mary And The Witch’s Flower – This is the first movie from Studio Ponoc, which was founded by Yoshiaki Nishimura (formerly of Studio Ghibli). Basically, it’s the new Studio Ghibli as several former Ghibli employees have joined Studio Ponoc. Although Hayao Miyazaki has come out of retirement to make another Ghibli film, expected to be released in 2020… YES!!! But, if this studio is going to be the next Ghibli and this is their first film, I think things may be alright. We’ll see. It’s certainly not up there with Miyazaki’s work (but nothing is). It’s a good start and easily lives up to some of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s of the “kid friendly” variety & reminded me the most of Arrietty. I think I may actually prefer Mary And The Witch’s Flower to that one. I’ll review this in full at some point as I try to review all the anime I watch. – 7.5/10
• A Simple Favor – I’ll review this in full sometime. Went in with zero expectations and really enjoyed it. – 7.5/10
• The Rose – I’d somehow never seen this movie in which Bette Midler plays a 70s rock star desperate for fame (it’s loosely based on Janis Joplin’s life). This type of movie is right up my alley and I thought it was quite good while Midler herself was excellent. She was nominated for an Oscar for this performance & won a Golden Globe. Yet I never really hear this movie or Midler’s performance mentioned, despite its song (The Rose) being a big American hit. Worth watching if the movie is your type of thing but it’s definitely not for everyone and people who love mainly just current films wouldn’t like the fairly slow pacing of this one. – 7.5/10
• Brigsby Bear – Really enjoyed this one as well but it’s truly not for everyone. It’s quirky, a little weird, and indie as shit. But it has a lot of heart and is one of the most original stories I’ve seen in a while. Mark Hamill supposedly accepted his role because he was impressed by the script’s originality (I heard that somewhere but can’t find a link regarding this). It’s a “comedy” drama but the comedy is subtle and, more than anything, it’s just a sweet, feel-good sort of film. I highly recommend knowing as little as possible about it beforehand if you decide to watch it as I think going in blind helped my enjoyment. – 7.5/10
• The House With A Clock In Its Walls – Will review in full. It was fun. – 7/10
• American Animals – Will also try to review this. I was disappointed. – 6.5/10
• The Glass Castle – Finally saw this adaptation after thoroughly enjoying the novel (it was my favorite book I read last year). It was my favorite despite not being at all my usual type of thing (it’s a memoir based on the author’s highly unusual and impoverished upbringing). The book was truly fascinating, however, as her parents’ behaviour was so outrageous that it was equally entertaining and maddening to read about. It was also very hard to not be disgusted by their behavior at times, especially the father’s, but the author did manage to somehow create some sympathy toward her parents that didn’t translate as well to film. Woody Harrelson was good as the father but the movie did leave out some of the things he did that would make it too hard to like him. – 6.5/10
• Compliance – This movie is thoroughly messed up, mostly because it’s unfortunately 100% true. I remember hearing about this film when it came out & finding the true story interesting so I looked into it & the Kentucky case (I believe) is what’s shown in this film. This was part of the “strip search phone call scam” that went on for 12 years(!!) across small American towns. From Wikipedia:
“The strip search phone call scam is a series of incidents, mostly occurring in rural areas of the United States, that extended over a period of about twelve years, starting in 1992. The incidents involved a man calling a restaurant or grocery store, claiming to be a police officer and then convincing managers to conduct strip searches of female employees, and to perform other bizarre acts on behalf of “the police”. The calls were most often placed to fast-food restaurants in small towns.
Over 70 such occurrences were reported in 30 U.S. states, until an incident in 2004 in Mount Washington, Kentucky, finally led to the arrest of David Richard Stewart…”
So the point of this scam, I guess, was to see how far people will go when they think they’re being told to do something by an authority figure. It’s scary that so few people questioned the voice on the phone when they were told to do increasingly disturbing things to the female employees who had been targeted. I think viewers won’t believe how far things went in this film and I think it had some bad reviews simply because it’s hard to watch. But, from what I read, nothing is exaggerated (a security camera actually caught it all on film). I’m glad they caught the sick bastard but the scam itself made for a fascinating study in human behavior, I guess. Disturbing. A decently acted film but obviously a hard one to actually “recommend”. It’ll make you angry and the real life girl who was targeted has had a lot of issues since this happened to her. – 6.5/10
• Veronica – To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story). – 6/10
• Tetsuo(aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man) – I’ve been meaning to watch this Japanese film for years as I have a weird fascination with body horror (god knows why – I’m a wuss when it comes to violence). I really wanted to see it before doing the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies but it wouldn’t have made the list anyway. It’s only just over an hour long but it felt like it was never going to end. The last 20 minutes or so just go on & on & on (I decided to fast-forward). I suppose this movie was shocking in 1989 but we’ve had The Human Freaking Centipede since then, so… is anything really going to gross anyone out in this fucked-up world anymore? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.” I like weird movies and especially love ones with great imagery but the low budget imagery in this wasn’t good enough to make up for the meandering story and the terrible characters. It’s certainly original and one of the stranger films I’ve seen but I didn’t expect to mostly just find it boring. It’s fucked-up, though. I’ll give it that. It’s one of very few movies I have that I’ll have to keep hidden away – you sure as shit don’t want your kids to ever get hold of this one. – 6/10
• The Nun – Meh. I don’t know. This was actually a bit better than the terrible reviews would suggest. I thought it was far better than those idiotic Annabelle movies but far worse than the first Conjuring film. I thought the characters were all fairly strong (as far as horrors go) and I really liked the setting of the secluded old convent or castle or whatever it was. It was fairly creepy & atmospheric and, hell, I think I’m talking myself into liking this one a little more than I thought. I do love a good bit of Satanic horror but there are far better films in that sub-genre. I’ve realized that I’ve watched all of the Conjuring Universe films so far despite not being a huge fan. Here are my reviews & ratings:
• Frozen (2010) – Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM). – 5.5/10
• Re-Watch: Bridge To Terabithia – This is actually a great coming of age movie based on a famous American kids’ book. I’d watched it years ago and hesitated when my daughter asked to watch it recently. It’s controversial for stupid reasons (but you know what uptight Americans are like). I don’t want to give away the plot if you know nothing about it but it’s one you need to look into first before deciding if your kid will be okay watching it. Mine liked it a lot. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking story with strong characters. I’ve ordered her the book now as well. I really should have read it as a kid. – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
I didn’t manage to finish any books in September as I’ve been too busy. But I am finally almost done with The Outsider by Stephen King. Pretty good so far but started out slow & took too long for the weird supernatural stuff to happen (which is what I love the most). Also been reading Nightflyers And Other Stories by George R.R. Martin on my phone (digital library book – I’m so cheap!). But it’s too hard to read it through my cracked phone screen so I might have to look for the actual book instead. #FirstWorldProblems
TV SHOWS WATCHED
None. Okay, I’m lying – I’ve been watching America’s Got Talent on Netflix with the kid. She loves it. It’s a simple family thing to watch but I sincerely hate reality TV for the most part. I make fun of the sob stories and all the contrived, phony, “heartwarming” bullshit. Am I evil??? I like that card magician dude, though. I wonder how far he gets. (Don’t tell me!)
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Nothing planned. As I said, I’m too busy to do my usual horror posts. I’m also way behind on my 2018 Blind Spot reviews. I don’t think I’ll manage to watch all twelve this year.
October Releases I Maybe Want To See:
• A Star Is Born – This is one of those that’ll be up for Oscars so I should watch it. But I don’t really want to…
• Venom – Ha! Horrible reviews so far. I’ll skip it.
• Mandy – Curious about this Nicolas Cage horror as the horror fans on Twitter have been raving about it. Sounds extreme. But I can’t say I fully trust any movie starring Nicolas Cage. Not the bees!!!
• Bad Times At The El Royale – Jeff Bridges and shirtless Chris Hemsworth looking like some super sexy Jesus dude?? Oh yes. I’ll go to this but have to admit it looks like it may be a bit crap.
• First Man – Want to see this but don’t love Damien Chazelle as its director. Am hoping it’s not as millennial as La La Land (sorry!).
• Halloween – Will definitely go to this but with low expectations.
• Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – Is it sad how much I want to see this?? I want more “scary” family movies!
• Bohemian Rhapsody – I love Queen and adored Freddie Mercury. This could be good or REALLY bad.
• Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot – Looks pretty good but probably a Netflix film. Very indie so doubt it’ll get a wide release anyway.
• The Guilty – A film from Denmark that I’ve only just noticed when looking up movies coming soon. Great reviews & sounds pretty good.
• Slaughterhouse Rulez – We’ll see. Could be awesome! Hopefully it’ll be as good as Shaun Of The Dead.
• Suspiria – First of all, remakes piss me off. Make something new, dammit! Second of all, this isn’t an October release in the UK – it’s out in November. WTF??? Not in time for Halloween? Piss off. It’s starring Dakota Johnson anyway so I’m not exactly thrilled despite almost liking its (derivative) “look” in the trailers.
Yikes. Five years?! I honestly didn’t think I’d be doing this movie blogging thing for five years.
I want to say a huge thank you to the fellow bloggers who’ve dropped by in these last five years & had little chats with me on my silly movie & book reviews. I’m sorry I’ve been around a lot less this year and hate that it’s becoming almost impossible to spend any time on my blog or on the blogs that I follow. The whole reason for starting this blog was so that I could discuss movies with fellow film lovers since, in the real world, it’s hard to find obsessive movie nerds. You think I talk about movies all day long with people at work? Hell no! (That would be fun, though – where can I get a job like that?). So, thank you again to the special few who were here from the start and are still around and to all the lovely newer bloggers who’ve come along since. I feel like an “old blogger” now!
I always say I need to cut back on the time I spend here and I’ve done that this year but I’ll be doing it even more in 2018. I’d always kind of planned on quitting on my 5th anniversary but I’d miss the occasional movie chats as well as the one other reason I keep this thing going: to use it as a “movie diary” and keep a log of all I’ve seen & read. Because, as well as being a movie nerd, I’m also massive LIST NERD! I now have a record of every movie I’ve watched since 2012. Which is totally not important when the world is f*^%ing falling apart, right?! To psychoanalyze myself, I think it helps keeps me calm in the face of all the bullshit in the world. Or something. Nicely ordered lists! Nicely ordered lists could create world peace!!
So, I do have a plan to keep this blog going with a bare minimum of posts in 2018. I’ll focus only on reviewing 12 more Blind Spot movies (as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that project) and the 2018 UK cinema releases I manage to see. The main other thing I’ll do is bring back an end-of-month post so I can at least very briefly discuss all I’ve watched in that month. At the moment, the movies I watch at home are getting no attention as I don’t have time for full-length reviews. I’ve watched a lot of really good movies this year and am annoyed to have not even mentioned some of them (For example, I really liked an obscure movie called The Frame.Here’s the IMDb link. I believe it’s still showing on Amazon Video.)
With these blogiversary posts, I tend to do a “Year In Review” post since it’s close to the end of the year anyway. This time, I’m going to do a “Five-Year Review“(!!). One thing I can really thank this blog for is that I’ve seen some TRULY brilliant movies since starting it because of things like my IMDB Top 250 Challenge and the Blind Spot project. Knowing you’ll be writing for a blog kind of helps “force” you to finally watch the more highly acclaimed classics you’d been avoiding for no good reason. Plus there’ve been some damn good new movies released since 2012. SO GET READY FOR SOME LISTS!!!! Let’s see if these can create universal harmony.
Here are some ranked lists of my favorite movies I’ve seen & the best books I’ve read for the very first time since starting this blog in November 2012….
My Top 20 Books Read Since 2012 (No one gives a shit about books so let’s get this list out of the way first.): 😉
Yep – I can’t NOT have a Star Wars film as my number one movie released since 2012. I can’t wait for The Last Jedi in a couple of weeks!
As you can see from these lists, I really do have this blog to thank for my newfound love of Studio Ghibli & Charlie Chaplin. I’d seen & loved My Neighbor Totoro & Spirited Away before blogging but decided to watch all the rest of the Miyazaki films for a month of Ghibli reviews. I’d seen no Chaplin at all before 2012. I highly recommend his stuff to all true film lovers, especially City Lights & Modern Times.
The other two directors I’ve been trying to further explore are John Carpenter (I’d already seen the majority of his best films, though) and Akira Kurosawa. That’s why they have the only two films in the lists above which I haven’t yet reviewed as I want to devote an entire week (or month) to their work someday in the future.
Okay – it’s time for me to shut up. You all probably stopped reading halfway through my lists anyway. Ha! I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen in these last five years (I’m too lazy to count, although I do have them all listed year by year on my blog pages). But I’d say I average about 100 per year. So… Narrowing it down to 60 favorites out of 500 isn’t too bad! Thank you again, everyone! Especially those who made it to the very end of this post… 😉
Now, as I feel really bad about putting The Warriors in second place after originally having it at number one, I’ll end this post with the ending of the movie. Seems appropriate. All our lives deserve appropriate songs that play over our end credits. Hmm. That sounded a little morbid. Sing it, Joe!
Actually, I want Morricone to score my real life end credits…
It’s Studio Ghibli-related movie art so you know I have to post this… 🙂
I noticed an article about artist Jordan Bolton HERE at creators.vice.com because of my love of anything Studio Ghibli-related. You can see a couple more of his Ghibli object posters at my link to that article.
I then discovered that he’s done of bunch of these movie prop posters for a wide variety of films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Her, and Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Very cool stuff! Bolton calls this series of movie prop posters Objects and you can see them (plus other great movie & music art) on his Tumblr and Etsy pages.
**I’ve managed to finally write my February Blind Spot review! See you tomorrow with my review of my February Blind Spot choice: Watership Down.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all having a good 2017 so far. (Okay – it’s the 10th of January. I’m done saying “Happy New Year”). 😉
Like most people, I’ve made my own personal resolutions for 2017. I won’t share those here but they’re my main priority. However, I don’t want to abandon my “online movie diary” completely so I’ve decided on some things I’ll focus on this year in order to keep this blog going. Here are my 2017 Blog Resolutions:
– Keep It Short
I ramble on too much (probably because I’m not a writer & I suck with words!). This has kept me from reviewing a lot of the (79!) movies I watched at home last year. This year, I’ll keep any reviews of non-current, meh movies very brief.
– One Or Two Posts A Week
Simple: I’ll do a minimum of one or two posts a week. Some weeks there will be more but I won’t stress if I only manage one. I’ll mainly post Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.
– Blind Spot Movie Reviews
The one blog commitment I didn’t come to regret in 2016 was watching & reviewing the 12 Blind Spot Movies that I chose last January. This is one of my main blog resolutions that I plan to stick to again this year. I’ll be posting my 2017 Blind Spot Choices tomorrow.
This has been almost entirely on hold for the past couple of years. I no longer want any guest reviews as some became too much of a headache. But I do, from the bottom of my heart, thank those of you who fulfilled your guest review commitments at least once. Sincerely. *Hugssssss!* I got a lot of excellent classics reviewed on my blog thanks to you guys (and it gave me the opportunity to be very lazy for over a year with a guaranteed weekly post I didn’t have to write). 😉 I’m now going to go back to doing this on my own but I’m in no rush. By now, I’ve watched the majority of the Top 250 films that I actually WANT to watch. So I’ll make my goal, hmm… To watch & review four IMDB Top 250 Movies this year. Think I can manage that!
– Top Ten Lists
I’ll still do these but not on a regular basis. When I do, I’ll probably continue to post them on a Thursday.
– Books & Reviews
I tend to read about one book per month & I kept on top of reviewing them all in 2016. I’ll continue to try to do this but I’ll make my book reviews very brief as well.
– Themed Weeks/Months
I enjoy doing themed weeks and/or months on my blog but I won’t commit to definitely doing any this year. If I’m in the mood & if I have the time, these are the ones I keep toying with:
Studio Ghibli Week: I already devoted all of January 2015 to Studio Ghibli but have since been working my way through the non-Miyazaki films as well. I’ve watched five already so I’ll review them all one week. Probably. I already started 2017 by watching Arrietty. 🙂
Akira Kurosawa Week: I keep putting this off as I don’t know how to go about reviewing these fantastic films (I’ve only watched three so far). But I’ve just bought myself a lovely blu-ray set of five of his samurai films (it was cheap!) so, maybe one week by the year 2021, I’ll actually review all the Kurosawa films that I’ve watched.
John Carpenter Week: Another thing I’ve been putting off for two years! I have, however, watched plenty of his movies in preparation. One of these weeks…. BAM! I’ll suddenly review them all. Maybe. We’ll see.
New York City Week: I’ve watched so many movies based in NYC in the past year & have saved them up to devote a week to reviewing them.
Rocky Week: To kill two birds with one stone, I’m putting the IMDB Top 250 film Rocky on my Blind Spot list. But, as the hubby keeps telling me how good Creed was, I figure I better watch all the Rocky movies first, right?? Ugh. Are there seven? Well, I’ll try! I do have them all available so I might as well. Considering how much I ended up enjoying Clint Eastwood Week last year, I’m bizarrely looking forward to watching all the Rocky “guy” movies. I’m a weird chick…
Non-Disney, Non-Pixar, Non-Ghibli Animation Month: One thing I really want to focus on is watching more animated films that aren’t necessarily “kids’ films” (although some will be). I’m talking about things such as Ralph Bakshi movies & non-Ghibli Japanese anime. There are also some movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years, such as Watership Down. I have quite a long list, however, so it’s likely that I’ll watch what I can this year but not review anything until 2018. Hmm… 2018 resolution?! I’ve not even had a chance to break all my 2017 ones yet!
Well. That’s it. So much for my “Keep It Short” resolution!!! There – I’ve broken one already… See you tomorrow with my Blind Spot Choices. 🙂
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama that focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
My Very Quickie Opinion:
I watched this movie on August 9th, 2014. Whoops! Is it really taking me almost two years to get around to reviewing some of these Top 250 films?? Yikes.
This is truly going to be a quickie “review” as I don’t remember this film very well (I had to read the full plot synopsis online just now to refresh my memory). This is a very good film, so I can see why it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It’s a drama with great performances from all involved but it just isn’t my type of thing. I rarely like realistic dramas. I watch movies for escapism, which is probably why a lot of my favorites are sci-fi or fantasy.
I remember thinking the two main actors (the separating husband & wife) were especially good & I felt for their situation, particularly the husband struggling with taking care of his father who has Alzheimer’s. I won’t give away the plot but something happens with the woman who is hired to take care of the husband’s father and that’s just one of several stories woven together. It’s good in that most people watching this will relate to at least one of the stories/characters: whether it’s dealing with an aging parent, marital problems, religious beliefs & customs, etc. I didn’t relate to it any more or any less than I do to American films dealing with the same sort of issues. The themes are universal so it’s certainly worth a watch if this genre is your sort of thing – don’t let it being a foreign language film or my “meh” review put you off. It’s a good, Oscar-worthy film. But it’s just not my favorite genre. Once again, my ratings are based more on personal enjoyment than “worthiness” – I’d rate this one more highly if I rated only on worthiness.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Well, watching A Separation got another Top 250 film crossed off my list & I did say at the start that some might not get lengthy reviews from me. I started this project (details HERE) on 01/01/2013 & my goal is to watch all the IMDB Top 250 movies that I hadn’t yet seen at that point (I’d already seen 100 – those 100 are the ones I’ve let guests review). So I’m very slowly working my way through the rest of that 2013 list. I’ve watched 42 of the remaining 150.
As this review was so short, I thought I’d rank the 42 films I’ve watched so far. Because I’m sad like that. 😉 It’s quite obvious that the ones I’ve loved the most are the Studio Ghibli & the Charlie Chaplin films. I’d already watched a couple of Ghibli films when I started this but I do have this project to thank for introducing me to Chaplin. 🙂
I did keep some Top 250 favorites of mine to be reviewed by me someday instead of guests – things like The Shawshank Redemption & WALL-E (which I did review) and the Star Wars original trilogy & The Princess Bride. This list is only ranking the films I’ve watched since starting this project, not the 100 I’d already seen in the past. Most of my all-time favorite films are in the Top 250 – I just struggle to write about the ones I really love so I haven’t reviewed many of those. How could a review of mine ever express just how awesome Aliens or The Princess Bride are?! 🙂
So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! I need a life…)
I highly recommend my Top Ten. No… I highly recommend 38 of these! There are so many true classics here. The bottom four don’t deserve a place in the Top 250 (but I only hated the bottom two – 39 & 40 are decent enough movies). I have to say that the top three are extra special to me & instantly became all-time favorites of mine. It’s sometimes a struggle to “force” myself to watch classic films such as these but I’m rarely disappointed when I do finally make the time for them. 🙂
I’m sure we’ve all sometimes chosen what movie to watch based on whichever has the shortest running time. Life is busy and, for movie lovers, it isn’t always easy to find the time to devote to watching a film. And it seems that many of the most critically acclaimed films are at least two hours or more. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Well, luckily, there are some good ones to watch that don’t go to the lengths of Seven Samurai (which is an awesome movie that you really should watch when you have a spare three hours and 27 minutes). So, I’ve gathered some of my favorite cinematic quickies together in this list. And thanks to the hubby for this one as he’s the one who came up with the idea for the list (but, of course, I’ve done all the actual work. as always). 😉
While scouring IMDB for running times, it soon became apparent that certain types of films tend to be the ones that are always short. Loads of animated movies, especially older ones from Disney, are under 90 minutes. Then there are all the old, silent films. Finally, a lot of horror films are also short. So I’ve decided to create two Top Tens as there are way too many short animated films & it’s always hard to know where to put them within a list of non-animated films.
So first, here are My Top Ten Animated Movies That Are 90 Minutes Or Less:
10. The Jungle Book (1 hr 18 min) 9. Yellow Submarine (1 hr 30 min) 8. Heavy Metal (1 hr 26 min) 7. TIE: Sleeping Beauty (1 hr 15 min) & Beauty And The Beast (1 hr 24 min) 6. TIE: 101 Dalmatians (1 hr 19 min) & The AristoCats (1 hr 18 min)
5. The Last Unicorn (1 hr 24 min if I cheat & go by the British version’s running time, which is always shorter anyway due to frame rates per second or something like that) 😉
Okay, I lie – I Googled “Studio Ghibli cake“. I couldn’t bake a cake to save my life. Also, my blogiversary was actually on Thanksgiving… Close enough! And I say this every year but I really can’t believe I’ve done this blogging thing for three years now.
As my blogiversary is so close to the end of the year, I always do a little recap of my year so far. The holiday season always gets very busy so I’ve been taking a bit of a break but, up until November, I kept up with my “post once a day every weekday” schedule fairly well. This is actually post number 995 for me so I’m finally almost to 1,000 overall. I haven’t yet reached 1,000 followers like I know a lot of you have recently but that’s also getting close (I currently have 980. Hi all!).
I was very happy to start the year out with Studio Ghibli Month in January. I only managed to review Grave Of The Fireflies plus all the Hayao Miyazaki-directed films (except The Wind Rises… I will do that eventually!) but I’ll still work my way through the remainder of the Ghibli movies at some point. You can find links to all my Ghibli reviews HERE.
The project I didn’t manage was to watch & review as many John Carpenter movies as I could throughout the year (you can see from My Top Ten John Carpenter Movies list that I hadn’t yet seen some popular ones). Well, I’ve only managed to watch TWO & review a whopping NONE. I can say that both of them will be added into that Top Ten: one very high (I’d put it at number three) and one very low, so it may not stay in there after I watch some more. Maaaaybe I’ll make another attempt at that project in 2016. Maybe. 😉
That leads me to the movies I’ve seen so far this year. You can see a very exciting list of EVERY SINGLE MOVIE I’ve seen in 2015, rated & ranked, HERE! Yeah, call me anal but it makes end-of-the-year lists very easy to put together. Here are my Top Five favorites I’ve seen at home & in the cinema so far:
I always like seeing which posts & pages get the most views. I don’t like how Worpress has changed Stats so that you can only see year by year instead of overall totals, which I’d find more interesting (maybe it’s different on a computer?). So above is a list of My Most Viewed Posts & Pages for 2015 only.
I’ve learned to accept the fact that my 2013 post of My Top Ten Shower & Bath Scenes In Movies will NEVER DIE. It’s always been & always will be number one. Thanks to the person who shared My Top Ten Body Horror Movies on Reddit (I know who you are! Thanks again! 🙂 ), that post gave me the most views I’ve ever had in a single day. I’m glad that my review for Mad Max: Fury Road has done well, since that movie RULES and that post isn’t pervy in any way. As always, a lot of the most-viewed are due to something pervy (Odd Thomas has a girl, Addison Timlin, in barely-there knickers and Spring Breakers of course has a photo of a topless girl). Believe me, I’m far happier when non-pervy posts get a lot of views. I still find it funny that so many people search for that gnome from Project X…
I LOVE GNOMES!!!! I still want one just like that angry little dude. A “fuck you” gnome! Anyway – As you can see, that’s one of My Top Search Terms:
These search terms are the same as usual and, yes, “Mr Peabody & Sherman porn” pops up a lot. Seriously – what’s wrong with people?? Is there really such a thing?! I promise that is NOT on my blog (just a simple review of that crappy kids’ movie HERE). Lucy Deakins, from my review of The Great Outdoors, is always a popular search term (although I’m a bigger fan of her movie The Boy Who Could Fly).
I knew exactly which posts were responsible for each of these search terms other than “Elyes Gabel shirtless” so I had to search my blog to find he was in World War Z. Sorry – I had no idea who he was & don’t have any photos of him without a shirt! I looked him up & saw that he was Rakharo in Game Of Thrones. Then, as there are approximately 132 characters in each episode of Game Of Thrones, I had to look up Rakharo (he was one of Daenerys Targaryen’s Dothraki “Bloodriders”). Okay, then – here he is with bare arms in Game Of Thrones:
Oh, yeah – I’ve also read a lot of books this year (for me) and even managed to review a few. Here they are! I’ll try to review a couple more of these before the end of the year. Maaaaaaybe.
Finally, thanks as always to everyone who stops by & “has a chat” with me in the comments. I love that! I didn’t really expect that when I started this blog but it’s the main reason why I still stick around. I’ve finally looked into these stats & see that they’re the top commenters based on the last 1,000 comments. It’s a weird way to do it & I wish WordPress would show more people but thanks to ALL of you, not just those below – everyone has popped up in these stats at some point. 🙂
Hopefully I’ll see you all next year for a 4th blogiversary celebration! Maybe I’ll bake a real cake next time. 🙂
I saw these in the middle of October but was sticking to horror-only posts. It’s Studio Ghibli, though, so I had to share!
These are from graphic designer HWAL & you can see the Studio Ghibli Icons Collection here: Behance. I want this below design as wallpaper! How awesome would a Ghibli bedroom be for a kid?! (Okay, or for me…) 😉
Starring: Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, René Auberjonois
Running time: 84 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) A brave unicorn and a magician fight an evil king who is obsessed with attempting to capture the world’s unicorns.
As the parent of a young child but also a movie lover, I’m often on the lookout for kids’ films that I may actually enjoy as well. I’ve sat through enough crappy movies for kids that I think it’s okay to sometimes get to watch one that interests me as well. Right?! 😉 Enter the 1982 film The Last Unicorn which, apparently, is something of a cult classic, has a very high IMDB rating (for its age & the fact it’s animated) of 7.5/10, AND it’s from RANKIN/BASS plus the animators who went on to form STUDIO GHIBLIyet I’d somehow never even heard of it before?!? Holy shit – I was all over this thing when I read about it! It sounded like something that couldn’t be more ME!!! So we got the DVD & for about two months I said to the hubby & kid “Let’s watch The Last Unicorn!!!!” until they finally agreed (probably to shut me up).
Wow. The Last Unicorn is a strange one. I kind of sort of loved it. I can see that, if I’d watched it as a kid, it may now be as special to me as the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. No, it’s not as good as Rudolph and it certainly doesn’t beat any of the Miyazaki Studio Ghibli films but there’s something kind of special & “magical” about it in the same way I feel there is about the Ghiblis. Hmm… How should I put this? This movie is so “1982” which, to me, is a great thing while to others it’ll be a bad thing. I’d only recommend this one to certain people who like things such as Studio Ghibli, Ralph Bakshi’s work, Heavy Metal (1981), The NeverEnding Story, and… maybe Labyrinth? I’m struggling to describe this but if you hate all the things I’ve listed, you should probably steer clear of The Last Unicorn. Oh – I’d also recommend it to any bronies! Bronies would love it.
I can’t really get into the plot too much and there are pictures I have to avoid posting that would contain massive spoilers. In the movie, a unicorn (voiced by Mia Farrow) discovers she’s the last unicorn in the world & goes on a journey to find out what happened to the others. She’s joined along the way by a magician called Schmendrick (voiced by Alan Arkin). Talk about an impressive voice cast, we also have Jeff Bridges as a prince, Angela Lansbury (always a favorite of mine) as a witch, and the amazing Christopher Lee who is of course perfect as the evil king who tries to capture all the unicorns in the world.
This movie has so many things that fantasy lovers will like: magic, wizards, witches, kings & princes, mythical creatures including a harpy and a rather scary, demonic Red Bull, talking butterfiles, etc etc. Oh yeah – and a unicorn! I have to say that, although unicorns have come to be seen as a “girl” thing, this movie is every bit as much for male viewers as for female – it’s not aimed just at one sex. In fact, when I mentioned this on Twitter, the response I got was from adult males saying how great this film is. I can see why it’s a cult classic – it’s very unusual and the animation is stunning. The story takes a very unexpected turn (the spoiler I’m avoiding) which I now love but took getting used to at first. It’s nice to not be able to predict what will happen like you can with most kids’ films!
As I mentioned, I found the animation stunning. I was happy just looking up images of this film to be included in this post. I think I may have to change my work computer’s wallpaper from My Neighbor Totoro to this!
Yeah, I’m a mature adult. Give me a break – I literally had a big poster of a unicorn jumping over a rainbow over my bed for years as a young girl. God I was girly for a while! Anyway, as I mentioned, the studio responsible for animating this film (Topcraft) were later hired by Hayao Miyazaki to do my other favorite Studio Ghibli movie (along with Totoro), Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. The studio’s main members then formed Studio Ghibli. (Thanks for that info, Wikipedia!). Anyone who has been around here for a while will know what a big fan I am of Ghibli & how much I love Nausicaä so you can see why I had to see The Last Unicorn after I read about it.
My six-year-old’s opinion:
I’ve started including my daughter’s opinion on kids’ movies so that I don’t appear as some crazy old person rambling on about “cartoons”. So, I’ll include it again this time but I think it’s pretty obvious by now that this one was more for mommy. 😉
We watched this a few months ago & the movie held her attention well but she’s not really mentioned it or asked to see it again. I asked last night what she thought of that Last Unicorn movie we watched & the reply was “It was better than I thought it would be!”. lol – What does that mean?! I think she was humoring me when she agreed to watch it, then. How sweet! I do think she’s a little too young for it as some of the themes at the end are too grown-up to fully be understood. There’s nothing I’d consider “inappropriate” but it’s a bit “out there” if your kid doesn’t like weirdness plus the Red Bull may be too scary for the very young who scare easily. I can see it being one she’d rediscover & possibly love in two or three years so I’d maybe recommend it to kids of 8 or so. She does love the young Studio Ghiblis, though, (Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service & of course My Neighbor Totoro) so she was probably better able to handle any strangeness.
Hopefully I’ve given a bit of an idea as to what this movie is like – I’m going to include a clip of the opening at the end of this post to give you a better idea. This is one of those movies I’m hoping to “introduce” to people here but it’s definitely not going to be loved by anyone who isn’t into this sort of thing or the other films I mentioned in the review. I also think being over 35 & under 10 would help. This is exactly the type of animated movie that obsessive film lovers my age who have young kids look for. I forgot to mention that this movie includes songs by America that are the very definition of late 70s/early 80s “easy listening”. If you like K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies, you may be able to handle this film. Or if you’re the type to get that reference.
My Rating: 8/10
**I’m including a clip of the opening of this film to give you an idea what it’s like. If you can’t make it past the song by America at 2 1/2 minutes in without gagging, this movie may not be for you… 😉
I recently won a quiz put together by MovieRob for Cara’s blogiversary bash over at Silver Screen Serenade (you can see the post & quiz HERE). Anyway, I correctly named a bunch of lesser known Star Wars characters (because I’m a nerd who goes to things like Secret Cinema’s The Empire Strikes Back). 😉 So my reward is choosing three movies for Cara & Rob to each watch. Here are my picks!:
I e-mailed Cara a little list of about ten movies asking her if she’d seen any of them and was surprised that she’d only seen one. Cara is young and still has plenty of classic movies to see so it was much easier picking three for her than for movie-watching-machine Rob. I’d like Cara to watch:
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
EITHER: Cinema Paradiso (original version, not the Director’s Cut) or City Lights
*Cara – I’ll let you choose whether you’re in the mood for a silent film or the Italian film my blog name is based on – I love them both! They both have two of the most amazing endings ever. But next quiz I win, you’re watching a Studio Ghibli. 😉
Rob is very hard to choose a movie for because he’s seen everything worthwhile! He’s a movie-reviewing-maniac. So, Rob – I’m not doing this to be mean but you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and watch the very few movies on this planet that you possibly haven’t seen. 😉 I know you’re unlikely to like these but, every movie to your taste that I thought of, I checked your blog and you’ve seen it! So… I’d like Rob to watch:
A film directed by David Cronenberg that he’s not seen
Seven Samurai if he’s not seen it (Rob – as a Star Wars fan, you should really see some Kurosawa if you haven’t)
EITHER: One of the Jackass movies or Slither if not seen
*Rob – it has to be a movie you’ve not seen so, if you HAVE seen any of the above, let me know as I have a few alternatives. But you REALLY won’t like those… Lol. (For the record, I like all of the above)
There you go! Cara, I hope you enjoy my picks. And, Rob, I hope you don’t hate me. 😉
I’d just like to add that Kelli Maroney favorited my tweet yesterday about My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces. Did you say “who”?! I forget you’re all only 20. Kelli Maroney from Fast Times At Ridgemont High & Chopping Mall & the AWESOME Night Of The Comet!!! 🙂 (I take every opportunity I can to mention the fact that she & Catherine Mary Stewart follow me on Twitter…) 😉
Thanks also to @videovangaurd @le0pard13 & @RobbinsRealm for retweeting it. Drew Struzan needs more recognition!
Aw! SO DAMN CUTE! This piece, entitled “A Galaxy Of Cute” is from artist Jerrod Maruyama. You can check out more of his adorable art (Star Wars as well as plenty of other things) at his website HERE.
I of course also love the below piece of art from him, called “Totoro Garden”. Plus he’s done loads of Disney & Pixar stuff! And lots of anthropomorphic food!!!! It’s like he’s making this stuff specifically for ME! 😉
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Set in the city of Kobe, Japan, the film tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, and their desperate struggle to survive during the final months of the Second World War.
Version watched: Japanese with English subtitles
Okay – here we are with the movie that got second place when I asked you all to vote for which movie I should review next (Spirited Away won – I reviewed that HERE yesterday). Knowing I would be spending January reviewing a bunch of Studio Ghibli films, I actually watched Grave Of The Fireflies late on New Year’s Eve. Do I know how to party or WHAT?!
And… then I never reviewed it. What can I say about Grave Of The Fireflies that hasn’t been said already? It’s already widely known that it’s one of the saddest & most heartbreaking movies you can watch. I love Studio Ghibli so I knew the time had finally come for me to watch it if I was going to dedicate a bunch of my time to eventually reviewing every Ghibli film on my blog. But I’ve never been one to want to watch a sad movie – I watch movies for their escapism, not to be reminded that humanity sucks. So I had a little bit to drink as it was New Year’s Eve, put on Grave Of The Fireflies, then distracted myself by chatting with a friend through most of it in order to make it a little more bearable (thanks to that person!). It still wasn’t an easy watch although it’s a beautiful film.
I was happy that Grave Of The Fireflies wasn’t at all political (in my opinion). I wouldn’t even say it’s exactly anti-war – it simply tells the story in a very matter-of-fact manner of a young boy & his little sister in the final months of World War II. I’ve looked but I’m not sure of the ages of the brother & sister – I think she’s around 4 & he’s maybe 14? There are a few times throughout the movie where you start to feel a little frustrated with the brother seeming to not always know the best way to take care of his little sister until you then remember that he’s just a child himself and how difficult it would be to try to survive on your own in a war torn country. These kids have nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help – all they have is each other and the boy does everything he can to take care of his little sister.
Grave Of The Fireflies is one of those movies that I think everyone should watch at least once (kind of like Schindler’s List – you need to watch it but maybe don’t watch them both on the same night!). There’s just nothing I hate more than seeing little kids suffer, though, and it’s very hard to watch this little girl go through Hell while always maintaining her innocence and joy at life’s little pleasures (like a couple of fruit drop candies or some fireflies) in a way that only the very young can manage. I recommend this to everyone, not just fans of Studio Ghibli as it’s quite unlike the other Ghiblis anyway, but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind.
Starring Voice Actors:
(English dub voice cast: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Paul Eiding, John Ratzenberger)
Running time: 124 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) In the middle of her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into beasts.
Version watched: Japanese with English subtitles
I know the people who’ve been with me a while will know that I’ve become a pretty big Studio Ghibli fan in the couple of years that I’ve run this blog. Back in January, I started reviewing as many of these films as I could (you can find the links to all the reviews HERE) but they didn’t get a lot of attention & I wondered if Studio Ghibli was as popular amongst movie bloggers as I’d thought. So when I asked in this poll HERE which movies I should review next of all the ones I watched but never got around to, I was surprised that Spirited Away & Grave Of The Fireflies were the two winners by quite a lot of votes. I know it’s weird that I’ve put off reviewing two of Ghibli’s biggest films but I wasn’t sure what to say about either of them. Fireflies because, well… what can be said about that? 😦 And Spirited Away because I KNOW it’s the favorite Ghibli for a lot of people (and the most highly regarded – it won an Oscar for best animated film & is the highest rated Ghibli in the IMDB Top 250 at number 34 currently) but it’s just never quite connected with me in the same way the other films have.
Spirited Away was actually the very first Ghibli I saw back in 2001 (I think – whenever it was first shown in UK cinemas). I don’t recommend it as your introduction to Studio Ghibli as it’s far more “out there” than most the others. Unless you like “weird”… However, I do recommend it if you’re already a fan of the studio and I can see now why it’s so popular even if it’s not my very favorite. I finally re-watched this again in January to see if my opinion would be different all these years later & I can say that I definitely appreciated it a lot more now that I’ve seen so many other Ghibli films. It’s basically just a coming of age story (Ghibli style – with pigs, witches, Susuwatari soot sprites like in My Neighbor Totoro, dragons, and really large babies) & has a good, strong lead female as is often the case with these movies. I think it may be so popular as it’s from 2001 so a lot of you younger bloggers will have been just the right sort of age for it when it came out (I’m guessing it’s a popular one with those who were preteen girls at the time especially). You’ll either absolutely love this one for its weirdness or you’ll be turned off if that’s not your type of thing but it’s certainly another Miyazaki masterpiece and I want to love it as much as I do Totoro or Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind… I really did try to on the re-watch!
Spirited Away is sort of a Japanese Alice In Wonderland. If you like that, you may also appreciate Spirited Away. It certainly has the magical quality & beauty that most the Ghibli films possess (more so, really – it may be the second biggest feast for your eyes after Howl’s Moving Castle). I do think I made a mistake putting it below Howl’s Moving Castle in my Top Ten – Howl’s is very pretty but the story is overcomplicated while Spirited Away has a much stronger and more straightforward story & themes.
With most Ghibli films, there’s usually a small character that I really latch onto. With Princess Mononoke, it was the Kodama. With Castle In The Sky, it was the Laputan robots. With My Neighbor Totoro, it was of course Totoro. While Spirited Away has very rich characters, I didn’t end up loving any of the lesser characters. No-Face was pretty cool, I suppose, but oh so strange. The girl (Chihiro), as I said, is another great female Ghibli character which is a huge part of the reason why I’m such a big fan of the Ghibli films. This is another movie I want my kid to see someday BUT I myself wouldn’t recommend it to those under probably about 10 or 11. For the very young, the witch is too scary as is the entire, cruel spirit world that Chihiro finds herself trapped in plus it’s just far too odd & the themes would be lost on the young. More than anything, they just wouldn’t appreciate this one until they were a little older so I think it’s probably best to wait before introducing them to this one.
I’m really glad I re-watched this one again after watching more Studio Ghibli films. I wish I could love it in the same way others do and in the same way I love some of the other Ghibli films but I certainly appreciate Spirited Away and think it’s deserving of all the praise & recognition it has received. I’d certainly watch it once (or twice) again and know it’s one that would grow on me. Spirited Away should be seen by all film lovers but I’d recommend testing out a couple other Studio Ghibli films first before delving into this one if you’re new to them.