Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2021

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. – 7/10

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 anotherGroundhog 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 does achieve 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. – 7/10

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.

Rewatched

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 Ponyo HERE 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

BOOKS READ

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2021

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorts:

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY

BOOKS READ

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2020

Happy New Year! (again)

Here’s day 2 of my year-end top ten lists. Onto the fun movie lists starting tomorrow! But I realised I watched more TV shows than usual in 2020 plus the top two are SO good that I decided these were worthy of a list this year even though I prefer watching movies. But I enjoyed The Mandalorian far more than any movies I’ve seen in the past several years.

I’m cheating a bit as I’ve only seen a few episodes of some of these. But, based on what I’ve seen so far, this is how I’d rank them. And god Grey’s Anatomy annoys me but I’ve been watching it for over a decade so I must like something about it. By the way – are we ever going to get to see the newest series in the U.K.??

Here are My Top Ten TV Shows Watched In 2020:

10. Watchmen

9. Locke & Key

8. The Umbrella Academy

7. TIE: The Middle & Grey’s Anatomy

6. Avatar: The Last Airbender

5. X-Men (The Animated Series)

4. The Crown

3. The Golden Girls

2. Cobra Kai

1. The Mandalorian


He’ll always be Baby Yoda to me. Love him.

Also watched:

The Masked Singer US & America’s Got Talent (hate myself for watching this crap), The Storyteller (1 episode – bizarre!!), Marvel’s Runaways (kid likes but I’m not feeling it), The Creeps (inferior Goosebumps-like show), Parks & Recreation (a few episodes – meh), Love, Death & Robots (2 episodes – hope they get better).

Yesterday I posted My Top Ten Books Read In 2020. Tomorrow I’ll be posting My Top Ten Older Movies Watched In 2020 then finally My Top Ten 2020 U.K. Movie Releases on Friday.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2020

Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over! 🙂

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

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN DECEMBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorts, etc:

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

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

Rewatched:

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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


God I love that cute little face

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

Movies I Want To See:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2020

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

Here’s what I watched in November.

MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewatched:

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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