Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2018

I’ve been disappointed with a lot of the movies I’ve watched this year but I finally saw some decent ones in April. I even saw a good modern horror! Those are few & far between. Here’s my month of April…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

A Quiet Place – 8/10
Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10
Citizen Kane – 7.5/10
Love, Simon – 7.5/10
Blockers – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Enter The Dragon – I loved this! Probably my favorite movie I’ve seen this year so far. It’s a Blind Spot choice of mine so I’ll review it in full soon. – 8.5/10

A Quiet Place – 8/10

Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10

Love, Simon – 7.5/10

Berlin Syndrome – I actually thought this was a decent psychological thriller. Starring Teresa Palmer & Max Riemelt, this is the IMDb synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’m always interested to see how a character will behave in this sort of situation (Teresa Palmer is the one being kept locked up in the apartment belonging to a stranger she’s slept with while on holiday). It’s strange to see him go about his daily life as normal each day while keeping her imprisoned and to see the “relationship” develop between them (he sees her as his girlfriend, of sorts, in his messed up mind). And she of course depends on him for food, etc, to survive. It’s based on a book so I’d be interested to know more about the characters’ feelings & motivations as I think the movie doesn’t explore this well enough. Maybe I’ll read the novel sometime. – 6.5/10

Blockers – 6.5/10

Midnight Run – Yes, the 1988 Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin film. This is one of those “re-watches” that I don’t count as a re-watch since I didn’t remember it whatsoever. What can I say? Yes, it’s a bit dated & of its time but I grew up in the Eighties & love films from that time. This was enjoyable but, yes, somehat forgettable (which is why I’d forgotten it!). They make a good movie duo, though. Certainly worth a watch if you like De Niro and/or Eighties films. – 6.5/10

The Beguiled (2017) – I was quite disappointed with this film, although I don’t think it’s “bad”. I like a lot of Sofia Coppola’s movies & was really looking forward to seeing this remake done from a female perspective. I saw the original Clint Eastwood movie last year & thought it was really good (it made it into My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies list – I don’t know why I’ve watched so many of his movies since starting this blog but he really has been in some great films!). This remake ended up feeling completely pointless. Okay, I know that 99.9% of remakes ARE pointless. But Coppola brings nothing new to the table. The movie is pretty much a straight copy but with far more shallow characters, which I certainly wasn’t expecting. I figured they’d have much more depth but the characters actually felt far more complex in the original. There are so many shades of gray going on in the original – you don’t know who to trust or who you should be rooting for (well, probably Eastwood – those ladies go pretty crazy). Oh hell, it’s probably Colin Farrell’s fault that I didn’t like the remake. Is it just me or is he a borderline horrible actor? The women all did fine (although their characters were very watered down versions of those in the original film). But, with Farrell, there was this… Nothingness. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t get into this one. I don’t even particularly like Eastwood but he was soooo much better in this role. Okay, maybe it’s not your fault, Sofia! This film did look lovely and it was worth a watch to compare the two. But the male lead character is SUCH an important role in this film and they chose someone very wrong for the part. They needed someone with depth whose motivations seem unclear. Oh… Imagine Daniel Day-Lewis or similar in this movie. It could’ve been great if that had happened. – 6.5/10

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Again, this was a bit disappointing but my expectations weren’t exactly high. I just wanted a fun popcorn movie and who doesn’t like Samuel L. Jackson & Ryan Reynolds?! It was fun seeing them together but Reynolds doesn’t get to be as lovably goofy as I think we all expect now. Overall, the movie was a bit boring & forgettable. Salma Hayek’s character (the kick-ass, tough talking wife of Jackson) actually steals the show. – 6.5/10

Honey – Yeah, the old Jessica Alba dance movie. I admit to liking a girly dance movie sometimes (like Save The Last Dance, which I’d now like to re-watch). Although the Breakin’ movies kick the shit out of these two! Anyway, Honey is cheesy & predictable but I liked it just fine. It’s exactly what I expected. And my kid loved it (she’s a fraction young – we skipped some of the sexy sexy stuff). I’d have liked to see much more Missy Elliott in this – she was fun. – 6/10

The Circle – Ugh. This was a very bad adaptation of a flawed book (I reviewed the book HERE). And I’m starting to think that Emma Watson truly annoys the hell out of me. To be fair, her character was thoroughly hateful in the book so she was probably right for the movie adaptation. Tom Hanks was very wrong for his role. This movie just does a horrible job getting its point across. Well, I’m not sure it even had a point. The book starts out really well addressing the evils of shit like Facebook and a world with a complete lack of privacy (See? NOW you’re all starting to see the truth!). But the book falls apart at the end, which sucked as it was making a very scary & valid point to begin with. But the movie just says “fuck it!” and doesn’t even attempt to make any sort of social commentary whatsoever. Just watch The Social Network instead of this. – 5/10

• Re-Watch: Iron Man – I won’t rank this re-watch as I know this film very well. I’m going to work my way through re-watching the Marvel movies with my kid as she loved Avengers: Infinity War and now wants to see them all from the start. I’m not a massive superhero fan but I do like the Marvel characters a lot and this film is easily one of the best (I’ve ranked all the MCU films HEREIron Man is my second favorite). – 8/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe – Well, I’ll be damned! Edgar Allan Poe was one hell of a writer. I guess that’s why he’s considered one of the best in this genre, eh? I loved this short story. So descriptive and atmospheric. Macabre and creepy. I’m definitely going to finally read some more Poe now. I should’ve read this years ago. The spooky shit is right up my alley. – 4.5/5

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz – he’s kind of a guilty pleasure that I don’t actually feel guilty about. He’s no Stephen King and, I’m not gonna lie, all his books follow the exact same sort of formula. But it’s an enjoyable formula that always contains likable characters and very weird supernatural stories that are a lot of fun. This is the third book in the Odd Thomas series (I reviewed the movie HERE). The first Odd Thomas is easily one of Koontz’s best books and Odd is a great character who is clearly popular with fans. I can’t say I remember Book 2 very well but Brother Odd is possibly one of the slightly more strange Koontz stories (they’re all highly strange, though!). Strange is good.  I’m eager to continue the series now after finding Book 2 forgettable and not reading the next one until many years later. – 3.5/5

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – Hmm. This short story started out strong then just kind of… Ended. It was one of those stories where you finish it & go “Huh? That’s it?” I really enjoyed Flynn’s Gone Girl & especially Sharp Objects and am currently in the middle of Dark Places. Good so far. Guess her full length novels are much better than her short stories. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Greys Anatomy – Why do I watch this? I think I just like to see who they might kill off next. How do so many doctors die violently in medical dramas?! ER was the best for that. Remember when what’s his face grumpy bald doctor dude got squished by the helicopter after previously having his arm chopped off by one? Being a TV doctor is dangerous.

The Walking Dead – Fuck this show. That finale was the worst one yet. I’m finally giving up on continuing with this.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Wow – May is a shitty month for movies! I only want to see three. Maybe I’ll be more productive this month since I won’t be wasting time at the cinema. Hmm…

Tully – I really liked Juno and thought Young Adult was okay so am looking forward to another Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman collaboration.

Deadpool 2 – The first one was hilarious and Ryan Reynolds is adorable. I’ll definitely be catching this one.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Tickets already booked! I actually wasn’t sure how I felt about this one but I have to say that the trailers finally got me excited. This may turn out to be quite good. We’ll see! Fingers crossed…

Maybe watch on Netflix if I can be bothered:
Life Of The Party (unless reviews are dreadful), Breaking In, How To Talk To Girls At Parties,The Cured, On Chesil Beach, The Breadwinner

No Fucking Way:
I Feel Pretty

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The Circle by Dave Eggers (Book Review)

The film adaptation of The Circle by Dave Eggers is out today in the US (there’s no current UK release date that I can find. Hmm…). It was directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly & Bill Paxton (R.I.P.). I’ll probably try to go to the film at some point, so will of course review that if I do. For now, here’s my review of the novel…

The Circle by Dave Eggers

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Fast, thrilling and compulsively addictive, The Circle is Dave Eggers’ bestselling novel about our obsession with the internet and where it may lead. When Mae Holland lands her dream job at the world’s most powerful internet company, she has no idea what awaits behind the doors of The Circle…

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books where I loved the concept & agreed with its stance that, basically, the Internet & big corporations (such as the one that Fincher’s The Social Network is about) are evil. Okay, yes – I’m a blogger and I admit that I love to tweet but I’d happily hop into a time machine to go back to the Eighties and live without this sort of technology as I think we were better off without it. The world is a dreadful place & we’re living in an Orwellian dystopia. But we actually brought this all on ourselves, which I think even Orwell didn’t fully foresee. Hell, even Orwell couldn’t predict something as absurd as the rise of the Kardashi-thingies & wannabes! 😉 I blame them for society’s devolution (enabled by the Internet, of course). But back to this book…

I bring up Orwell as The Circle is indeed in a similar vein to 1984. But dystopian novels are more popular than ever and this is yet another of many that come nowhere near that masterpiece. I was pretty disappointed with The Circle overall. I absolutely love this genre and, as I said, I fully agree with this novel’s beliefs so I did expect to thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I’ve read 14 books so far this year (that’s a lot for me!) and this is possibly my least favorite. Damn. I didn’t expect that.

I found The Circle a bit too long & meandering. It started out okay but, by halfway through, it was becoming a bit of a chore to read as its lead character (Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson in the film) was becoming more and more and MORE unlikable. I think her character is the main problem I had with the novel as I always struggle to enjoy a book when I hate its main character. This can only very occasionally be made up for if the story is exceptionally good but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case with The Circle. I know the book’s whole point is that The Circle (the evil corporation in the story) is almost cult-like and that its believers follow blindly while the reader can see what’s really going on but, ugh, you just want to slap the shit out of Mae and knock some damn sense into her! I suppose Emma Watson is a good choice for the role in the film, though, as she’s seriously starting to get on my tits lately. But I’m hoping that the film will write her character slightly differently and give her some sense.

Well, I plan to check out the movie anyway since I always like to see how novels get adapted. Maybe they can actually improve on the book (it does happen sometimes). I still really like the overall idea behind the novel & its very obvious message even though I don’t think the story and its unlikable lead character do well to convey that message & the seriousness with which we should be taking it. I think I was just hoping for something a little more insightful and less obvious. The Circle doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know and I’m not sure if it was trying to be satirical or not but, if it was, it gave the novel an odd tone that didn’t really work. I prefer my dystopian literature to either be proper satire or full-on bleak, depressing dreariness! The Circle can’t quite decide what it wants to be but I do appreciate its effort to bring further attention to a very important topic we should be taking far more seriously. I think, unfortunately, the satire maybe doesn’t work simply because this book isn’t as exaggerated as Eggers may have originally intended. This story doesn’t feel like a distant future – it feels like it has already happened.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Here’s a trailer for the movie (as is often the case lately, I think it gives too much away):