Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2018

Happy July, everyone! I’m WAY behind on my June Roundup. How is it July 2018? Where’s the time going?! Where’s my life going?!? Well, here’s the stuff I watched & read in June 2018. Once again, I was disappointed with most things. I seriously need to see a really great movie soon…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Enter The Dragon8.5/10
Deadpool 27/10
Ocean’s Eight7/10
Hereditary6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Deadpool 27/10

Thief – Been wanting to watch this for a while as it’s Michael Mann’s first major film and I think Heat and Collateral are great. I got even more excited when the movie started and I saw that Tangerine Dream did the score. Yes!!! I love Tangerine Dream! This film is good & worth a watch if you’re a fan of either Mann or Tangerine Dream or late 70s/early 80s crime dramas. It feels like this probably inspired movies such as Drive looks-wise. It did drag a little, though. The characters were also a bit weak – I didn’t care too much about anyone although James Caan did do a decent job as a professional thief. Not as good as Heat but has the same great sort of look to it. It looks & feels like the best of Mann’s other work. – 7/10

The Florida Project – This was an odd one and I wasn’t sure while watching it if I liked it all that much. But I think I did. It grew on me and, weirdly, it was more entertaining than a lot of similar films that explore characters in situations where “nothing really happens”. I did really like Willem Dafoe in this although I don’t know if the role was “Oscar nominee” material. The main mother in this was annoying as hell and impossible to like but she felt like a real person, which not all movies are able to achieve. I ended up really liking her daughter & the other kids, although they seem bratty at first. They aren’t really, though – they’re just a product of their environment (a rundown motel just outside of Disney World). Actually, I thought the main girl (Brooklyn Prince) was a fantastic actress for her young age. Again, she felt like a real person. The setting was great (I love the look of that purple motel) and it was an interesting look at how there are people struggling to get by all over the world, including just outside of the happiest place on earth. I think I like this even more after writing this review… – 7/10

20th Century Women – This was actually pretty good! I really knew nothing about this going into it but I enjoyed each of the characters & their different personalities. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “The story of a teenage boy, his mother, and two other women who help raise him among the love and freedom of Southern California of 1979.” I couldn’t fully relate to any of the women but I did really like Greta Gerwig’s music-loving photographer and I especially loved all the Talking Heads music that they listened to. Good drama with strong performances from everyone (Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann & Billy Crudup) but has maybe too much of an indie-feel for a mainstream audience. Glad I checked it out. – 7/10

Ocean’s Eight7/10

Hereditary6.5/10

Christine (2016) – This is based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck, a TV news reporter who killed herself live on air in 1974. I’m surprised I knew nothing of this story and had never even heard of this woman. The story is, obviously, tragic and horrifying but I think the film handled the subject matter as well as it could. Rebecca Hall did a good job as Christine (though I can’t say how accurate the performance was). Not an easy watch and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone going through a hard time emotionally. It’s a solid drama & well acted but with a very slow pace and a TV movie feel to it. – 6.5/10

A Bucket Of Blood – Amazon Prime seems to have a lot of cult classic horrors at the moment so, like Carnival Of Souls last month, I was happy to finally check out this Roger Corman horror comedy starring Dick Miller. I can’t say it’s a “good” film but it’s memorable and I loved the 50’s beatnik setting. Not enough movies focus on that sort of culture – it made it feel more unique. Here’s another IMDb synopsis if you’ve not heard of it: “A dim-witted busboy finds acclaim as an artist for a plaster-covered dead cat that is mistaken as a skillful statuette. The desire for more praise soon leads to an increasingly deadly series of works.” I enjoyed it plus it’s only just over an hour long so I appreciated that (I rarely have enough time to watch an entire movie in one sitting). 6.5/10

Cargo – Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first. – 6.5/10

In Time – This was fine. A bit forgettable. Again, I liked the synopsis so finally decided to check this out. From IMDb: “In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage – a connection that becomes an important part of the way against the system.” The story was okay & I liked the way that people could “buy time” but a better movie could have been made from this story. Fun but probably a bit too glossy and full of pretty young people to take it very seriously. – 6/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane – I watched this odd 1976 Jodie Foster film partly because I was sick of seeing it in my Netflix Watchlist (it’s been on there for years). I think I was under the impression that it was a straightforward horror but it’s more of a drama that almost feels like a play. Actually, the story would work quite well as a play (maybe it was a play – I’m too lazy to look into it). It drags & I found it a bit underwhelming but the young Foster did a good job as the mysterious 13-year-old who seems to live in a house all on her own. – 5.5/10

Swiss Army Man – Okaaaaaaay. This pretty much sucked. I was never really a fan of Weekend At Bernie’s because I thought the “drag a dead guy around and pretend he’s alive” gag was stupid. This is the same gag multiplied by one million. With farts. LOTS of farts. But… I guess it’s superior to Weekend At Bernie’s since it’s current & everything more than ten years old is shit in the eyes of the current generation? Anyway, I’d give it a lower rating but I have to admit that riding a dead guy like a waterski as his farts propel you is, um, original? And I always moan that there’s no originality these days. So I’ll be nice and give an extra point for some unique stupid gags that even Weekend At Bernie’s couldn’t have dreamed up. – 5/10

Dig Two Graves – Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull. – 4.5/10

The Dark Tower – What in the actual fuck WAS this?! I love King but never got around to reading The Dark Tower series. I did read The Gunslinger (review HERE), though. The first book. This movie is NOT The Gunslinger. I know people have said it takes elements from the other books. Ugh. Whatever. I’ll keep reading the books as people do rave about them and they all trash this terrible adaptation. Just read The Gunslinger. Avoid this movie – it doesn’t resemble the story I read in any way whatsoever. – 3/10

Re-Watch: Mrs. Doubtfire – Never did love this movie but finally watched it with the kid. She liked it okay but didn’t love it. I do love Robin Williams, though. Miss him! – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz. I recently did a post of My Top Ten Dean Koontz books HERE. The Odd Thomas series is great, mainly because the main character is so good. The first book is the best by FAR of what I’ve read so far, though, although I did enjoy book 3 (Brother Odd). I found this one (book 4) disappointing. Maybe it’s like the Star Trek movies but the opposite – only the odd numbers are good?? Ha! ODD numbers. Anyway – I’ll keep reading as I love the character. – 3/5

Currently Reading: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera & Strange Weather by Joe Hill

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Girls – I needed a short show to have on while exercising & saw this one was available & realized I’d watched all but the final two seasons. So I watched the final two seasons. The characters were as fucking hateful as always. Seriously – are these the most hateful people in a tv series ever or WHAT?! Yes. Yes they are. If these people were a part of my real life, I’d do everything in my power to avoid them. They never felt at all realistic. Are there really people like these?!? I used to think there weren’t but, thanks to Twitter, I’m thinking there really are people as nauseating as these four girls. But, fuck it – anyone who says this show wasn’t well written and wasn’t funny at times is a liar. Because it’s hard to admit. These people are so hateful that we don’t want to give the show any credit. However, that final episode may be the worst finale for a show that I’ve ever seen. What on Earth were they thinking?! What a let down.

13 Reasons Why – I’ve now seen two episodes. It’s fine. I read the book (my review is HERE) and the adaptation is decent so far. But I do have issues with the story being told at all. It’s a very sensitive topic and I don’t think the book necessarily handled it well so don’t know if the show will either. Seeing what season 2 is about, though, makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t believe they went there… I’ll only be watching season 1, which is the story in the book.

The IT Crowd – Again, I finally started this as I need a short show on while exercising. I watched the first episode. I wasn’t really feeling it… Maybe I’ll give it another go at some point.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

(Well, the month is half over so I’ve seen some of these now)

The First Purge – Saw it. Liked it but it’s the weakest of the four. My review is HERE.

Mary Shelley – I’ll probably wait for Netflix.

Skyscraper – Looks dumb but fun. Anyone know if it’s appropriate for a 9-year-old? She weirdly seems to like The Rock. She did love Rampage, which was pretty intense…

Incredibles 2 – Saw it! Loved it. Will try to review it this week.

The Secret Of Marrowbone – Looks okay but I know that 90% of modern horrors disappoint me so who knows? May wait for Netflix.

Hotel Artemis – Hmm. Looked fun but hasn’t had great reviews. Feels like a John Wick ripoff anyway.

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The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Book Review)

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The story centers upon Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, who has been chasing after his adversary, “the man in black”, for many years. The novel fuses Western fiction with fantasy, science fiction and horror, following Roland’s trek through a vast desert and beyond in search of the man in black. Roland meets several people along his journey, including a boy named Jake Chambers who travels with him part of the way.

My Thoughts:

Another quickie book review! I figured I better “review” The Gunslinger since The Dark Tower movie is out now in the US (and out August 18th in the UK). Not many positive reviews so far, though! Damn.

Stephen King is easily my favorite author. I’ve read almost all of his books other than The Dark Tower series, which never really appealed to me for some reason. I got into King in my early teens (maaaaaaany years ago now) and I did read The Gunslinger early on but didn’t remember a thing about it other than that I didn’t really enjoy it at the time. Therefore, I guess that’s why I never continued. I hate re-reading books. Don’t know why. But I obviously had to re-read this one before I could continue with the series & the movie coming out has finally forced me to read it again.

I lie – I do remember one thing from reading it many years ago. Desert! Lots of desert. I remember the book dragging in the first half (in the desert). Reading the book again now, I wonder if I didn’t actually finish it as I remembered nothing at all from the second half of the book, which I found much more enjoyable. The story really picked up once Roland met up with Jake (toward the end of the long desert journey). I mean, I love King but a guy walking alone through a desert gets a bit boring after a while. Maybe I just don’t like stories set in the desert? Nah, that can’t be – I love post-apocalyptic desert landscapes (like in Mad Max: Fury Road or the book Wool). And I don’t mind long journeys (like in The End Of The World Running Club or King’s own The Long Walk or, you know, The Lord Of The F*^king Rings…). So. I dunno. Wow, I suck at reviews lately.

I think the main problem may have been that I didn’t really buy into the character of Roland Deschain. I didn’t like him (not that you’re meant to). He’s so stoic. Having to walk through the desert with that guy would be a total drag. I made him super hot in my head, though, so that helped. Oh! I did like the flashbacks to when he was young & being trained to one day fight to declare his manhood. The flashbacks & the time spent with Jake were the best bits (for me) and made up for the bits that dragged on a bit too long (like the time spent in Tull, although I liked his relationship with the woman while there). The “man in black” was a disappointment but I’m assuming we get a lot more of that story in the remaining books…

Well, I did like this book more than it probably sounds from this so-called review. I’m probably rating it half a point more than I otherwise would since a) it’s Stephen King & b) I can see a lot of potential for the remaining books. I’m assuming this first book barely even scratches the surface of this story. You really learn nothing whatsoever about Roland & the “man in black” and I found it entertaining enough to want to continue & learn more, especially about Roland’s past. I’ll read the rest. Eventually…

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– Blaze by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Currently Reading: End Of Watch by Stephen King (book 3 of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

Oh, and it looks like the Mr. Mercedes TV series is starting today on the Audience (?!) network in the US. So I don’t know how I’ll see that in the UK but I’d like to as I enjoyed the book (more than The Gunslinger). Here’s the trailer for the show, starring Brendan Gleeson, Harry Treadaway, Mary-Louise Parker, Kelly Lynch & Ann Cusack:

My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces

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Yesterday I reviewed Drew: The Man Behind The Poster, which is a documentary about legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan. Struzan has created some of the most well-known & iconic film posters and I love his work. I decided to do a separate post highlighting some of my favorite Struzan pieces of movie art.

At first I was going to focus just on his art that officially got used (whether originally or for anniversary editions). But in looking at his official website (HERE), I discovered a lot of art I like that I’d never seen before. So I figured I’d include all movie-related work (so, I’m excluding things like his super cool Black Sabbath album cover). I already KNOW I’ll be missing something & I’ll later kick myself for it. He’s done so much that it’s hard to narrow it down and, while there’s a long list on his site, I have no idea if it’s complete plus not all the images are shown.

So, after spending probably an hour looking up Struzan’s art, I’ve decided that these are my favorite. Probably. For now. I’m so indecisive! 😉 I’ll fully admit that I have a very hard time not letting how much I like the movie influence my opinion and, indeed, I like all of these movies. Remember I’m not an art expert in the slightest – I just really like the look of these. Especially number one. 

Now here are My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces:

Honorable Mentions

Indiana Jones Quadrilogy, Squirm (I don’t know this movie but the poster makes it look awesome despite the 4.4 IMDB rating!), Star Wars Original Trilogy, Back To The Future 

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10. TIE: The Goonies & Adventures In Babysitting

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9. Big Trouble In Little China

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8. Ladyhawke

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7. The Dark Tower as seen in The Mist

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6. The Muppet Movie

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5. Revenge Of The Jedi

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4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

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3. Back To The Future Trilogy

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2. Pan’s Labyrinth

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1. The Thing

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013) Review

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013)

Directed by Erik Sharkey

Starring: Drew Struzan, Dylan Struzan, Harrison Ford, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Michael J. Fox, Thomas Jane

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Drew: The Man Behind The Poster is a 2013 documentary film directed by Erik Sharkey about the career of American film poster artist Drew Struzan.

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My Opinion:

I watched this documentary last year and kept meaning to review it. I don’t know how to review documentaries (or books! man I’m behind on book reviews). As a documentary, I suppose it was pretty good. I don’t watch too many of them unless I’m really really interested in the subject, though, and this one was right up my alley. I love movies (obviously) & movie poster art and Drew Struzan has designed some of the greatest & most well known movie posters. So I’ll warn you right now that I may end up talking more about his art than about the actual documentary.

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Personal Life:

What I liked about this documentary, as with any documentary, was finding out more about Struzan’s personal life as well as his work. They talked to him and to his wife a lot and they seemed to have a lovely, very close relationship (I love a good husband & wife team). I’d say Struzan came across as a bit bitter and angry over certain things (he got very screwed over by someone in his career so I can understand that anger). He was the very definition of a “starving artist” in his early days and his wife was always by his side. I think this documentary got the balance right in talking about his personal life as well as his art. I can’t find any photos of his wife (Dylan) in the documentary, which is odd as she’s a very important part of it. But I found the above photo here, on the website of an artist who met Drew. It’s an interesting article if you want to have a look at the link & get an actual artist’s perspective on things (I can’t draw anything other than stick figures. I can’t even paint a wall properly!).

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It’s interesting how artistic types can sometimes be difficult but I liked how Struzan seems to have said “screw it” and lives for his wife & his art now. I’m difficult too but I have zero artistic talent of any sort so I don’t know what my excuse is… 😉 I’m not saying he came across as unlikeable – just that he does what he wants to do now & too bad if others don’t like it. I think more people should be like that, actually. He was far less grumpy than Paul Williams was in the Paul Williams Still Alive documentary that I watched at the same time. I suppose I should do a mini-review of that sometime too… Here’s my review: Paul Williams is a grumpy fart! Lol. Seriously, though, Struzan came across as a private person who’s very passionate about the things he loves and I have a lot of respect for people who are like that.

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Artwork:

First of all, I’ll say they did a good job getting some famous people to talk about Struzan and the work that he did for/with them (I especially loved Michael J. Fox’s enthusiasm for Struzan’s work – you could tell just how much he loved being a part of the Back To The Future posters). Speaking of grumpy famous people, they even got Harrison Ford to talk about Struzan! How cool is that? He must be the actor Struzan has painted more than any other… We also heard from Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, and Thomas Jane.

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I’m really glad they spoke to Thomas Jane about his part as a movie poster artist in Frank Darabont’s The Mist. For anyone not familiar with the movie, Struzan’s artwork was used in the beginning and Jane’s character is shown painting Struzan’s art for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (which Struzan painted specifically to be used in The Mist). Three things I love all together: Stephen King, Drew Struzan & Frank Darabont! Wait… Four! Thomas Jane is a hottie. Anyway, Struzan showed Jane how to make it look like he was really an artist doing a painting then, being the perfectionist that he is, later told Jane that he did it completely wrong in the movie. I loved Jane’s re-telling of the story – he had a great sense of humor about it.

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Frank Darabont is clearly a big fan of Struzan’s as he’s had him do art for a lot of his work (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, and of course artwork for & in The Mist). George Lucas is also a huge fan and Struzan has done loads of Star Wars art for books, anniversary editions, etc. There are so many different Struzan Star Wars pieces that it’s hard to choose a favorite. I think it’s between Revenge Of The Jedi & this one, which was a collaboration with artist Charles White III:

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Struzan did the poster art for Hellboy but he also did an amazing piece for Pan’s Labyrinth, which the studio rejected (much to Guillermo del Toro’s anger). But del Toro is very proud to have this hanging in his home – I’d love to have this!:

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I hate how studios so often feel the need to have horrible, boring movie posters just featuring photos of the film’s stars these days. I understand that seeing the stars so prominently displayed convinces some people to watch a movie (I guess?) but it doesn’t work on me. I’m more interested in a film if it has a really interesting, artistic poster (I’m the same way with books. I’m drawn to books with good covers). Struzan paints the film’s stars anyway so I don’t know why anyone would ever choose some crappy photoshopped photo over a painting for a movie poster. I’d much rather see something like this:

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Summary:

I’ve decided to stop here for a couple of reasons. First of all, I sometimes feel ridiculous “reviewing” movies when I know as little about filmmaking as I do about writing. When it comes to art, I have even less experience or knowledge. I just know what I LIKE and I have a passion for film, music, books, and art & love discussing it with all of you in the same way that someone like Struzan has a passion for actually creating that art. Believe me, I’d far rather be creating it but I just don’t have that ability.

Second of all, if I continue I know I’ll just ramble on & on about all my favorite Struzan pieces. So, in the middle of this, I decided to do a separate list of My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces, which I’ll post tomorrow. I’ve actually not even mentioned a lot of my favorites, including the one that is my favorite Struzan poster, hands down. I’ll just mention this as I decided that my list tomorrow should focus on only his movie art: When watching this documentary, I had NO idea that Struzan had done album covers and that he did one of my all-time favorites for Black Sabbath. How on Earth had I not known that?! The Alice Cooper one is amazing as well:

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Love those! Like I said, I know what I like and I know that seeing Drew Struzan movie art makes me happy. As for this documentary, I really enjoyed it as I find the subject matter fascinating and it was great getting to know a little bit about this private and talented artist.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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