Happy 2020! Here’s the first of my 2019 Top Ten Lists that I’ll be posting every day through Friday. I’ve hidden this one on Sunday since no one gives a shit about books on my movie blog. One of my resolutions this year is to read more books (and more quality ones) and to watch fewer movies (at home). Dune is the main thing I plan on reading in 2020.
I only read ten books in 2019 anyway. Here are My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (from my least favorite to my favorite):
Should a short story be number one? Fuck it – It’s my blog so I do what I want. FYI – my number one is the story that the fantastic movie Predestination is based on. I recommend the film to sci-fi fans.
These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:
My Top Ten Books Read In 2019
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)
– Ip Man – This was good. As it was one of my alternate 2019 Blind Spot choices, I’ll do a full review of it at some point. – 7.5/10
– The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – Again, I’ll try to do a full review of this sometime as it’s a film I watched for my IMDb Top 250 Project. A good film but it won’t be a favorite of mine, unlike a lot of the other Top 250 films I’ve watched since starting that project. – 7.5/10
– Straight Outta Compton – Been meaning to watch this for ages as I do always enjoy films based on musicians and seeing how they came together & made their music. I’m not going to pretend I was a big fan of N.W.A. This music is indeed from my sort of era but, when I occasionally listen to rap & hip hop instead of my usual rock & metal, I’m more of a Public Enemy or De La Soul girl. I also can’t pretend to know how accurate this movie is but thought it was a thoroughly engaging film (after a slow start) with very good performances. I did love that Ice Cube’s son played Ice Cube. Now I’m wondering if the offspring of famous people have played their parents often?! Okay – I’m going to Google that when I’m done with this post. By the way – Boyz N The Hood is a fantastic film if you never saw it (I should watch Ice Cube in Friday now too – I never did see that one). Okay, I’m getting off topic. As far as music biopics go, this is one of the better examples of how to do one right. It’s interesting seeing this not long after Bohemian Rhapsody. While I did enjoy that one (it was fun), it did come across as a bit phoney and I can understand the backlash even though I do think people are too picky on films that are meant to be crowd-pleasing (watch a Queen documentary if you want “real”). Straight Outta Compton came across as being much more genuine. It’s definitely worth a watch if you like music biopics, even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of N.W.A.’s music. – 7.5/10
– Mississippi Burning – This is another 2019 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full before the year is through. Good but certainly not the best Blind Spot film watched so far this year. In The Heat Of The Night was better… – 7/10
– Leave No Trace – I was desperate to see this as it had a lot of hype from film fans. It’s very good but I can’t say it’s one I’d feel the need to watch again (I saw people saying they loved it so much they went to see it multiple times). This is from the same director who did Winter’s Bone and it definitely has the same mood & feel, although it’s far less gritty than that one. In the same way that Winter’s Bone had a brilliant performance from Jennifer Lawrence, which I believe was the role that got her noticed, Leave No Trace also features a great performance from a young actress named Thomasin McKenzie. Let’s see if she becomes as famous as Lawrence! If you liked Winter’s Bone and like a realistic drama with great performances, I’d definitely recommend this film. I’ll be honest and say that it’s just not a genre that I typically tend to go for. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia if you’re interested: “The plot follows a veteran father with PTSD (Ben Foster) who lives in the forest with his young daughter (Thomasin McKenzie).” – 7/10
– Curtains – Meh. This probably deserves to be ranked below the next two films as it wasn’t very good but I’m just a sucker for cheesy 80’s slashers. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis for this mediocre horror film with a kick-ass poster: “A slasher film centered on theater and filmmaking, its plot focuses on a group of actresses targeted by a masked killer at a prestigious director’s remote mansion where they are auditioning for a role in a movie.” Here’s the awesome poster:
This stars Samantha Eggar (from David Cronenberg’s brilliant The Brood) as an actress so desperate for a role as a crazy woman in a new film that she has herself checked into a mental hospital for “research”. I’ll say that part of the reason I’ve wanted to see this for years was because of that doll in that cool poster. I love a creepy doll movie! Well, this isn’t a creepy doll movie, although the doll is used in an effective way in a couple of creepy scenes. This movie is fine. It’s a fairly predictable 80’s slasher but better than some of them. It’s worth a watch on Amazon Prime but only if it’s a genre you like. – 6/10
– American Mary – This was pretty hardcore. I’d been meaning to watch this film for a while now to see if it would be a contender for My Top Ten Body Horror Movies list. I’m afraid to say I didn’t love the film but thought Katharine Isabelle did a good job in this crazy role. I thought the film started out pretty strong but it loses its way when Isabelle’s character goes so extreme. She starts out quite innocent (although practising surgery on turkey carcasses while wearing sexy lingerie was odd) but then she goes completely batshit crazy and it just didn’t feel realistic after she was set up as this poor, struggling student who loves her sweet grandmother. I have to say, though, that she seemed to have enough money for lingerie for someone so poor! Lingerie is expensive. If you’re poor, surely you should buy clothes that keep you warm?! But I guess she needed the lingerie for turkey surgery. Anyway! There’s a bit of a revenge plot going on in this film and I did enjoy that because I love some good vengeance. And this was some fucked-up vengeance! I just wish the final half of the film hadn’t fallen apart. We start out on Mary’s side but can’t relate to her anymore by the end (at least, I hope no one can relate to her at the end). Oh well. It’s certainly a memorable film! I give it credit for that. I far prefer a memorable film to something so bland that I won’t remember it in a year. – 6/10
– The Love Witch – Like American Mary, this was on Film 4 the other week and I was really happy as I’d been intrigued by the look of this one since it first came out. Damn – this was a huge disappointment. While I did indeed love the look of it, I can’t say that I thought the film was good. Film critics will say something about this exploring gender roles or some shit but I thought the film was all style & no substance. However, I appreciate the effort it made on its 60’s aesthetic and the lead actress is definitely beautiful (and half naked quite often, which may be why the positive reviews I’ve seen have mostly been from dudes. Hmm). As a woman, I was hoping to like this a lot more as it’s from a female director and has a strong female role. It’s artsy and pleasing to the eye but the intentionally bad acting and the slow pace made it a chore to even finish it. Still, it has fans and I can see why it would as it’s a unique film. It just didn’t work for me personally, so don’t let my unenthusiastic review keep you from watching it if you like the look of it. – 5.5/10
– Coach – Oh you 70’s & 80’s teenage sex comedies! I can’t resist watching these sometimes since I’m so damn old and grew up with these. When I noticed this on Amazon Prime, I had to watch it immediately because of my longtime crush on Michael Biehn (thanks mostly to Kyle Reese). No, this movie isn’t good but it was interesting seeing Biehn so young (the film came out in 1978). It’s one that wouldn’t be made now since, well, the sexy new 30-something basketball coach (Cathy Lee Crosby) has an affair with one of the teenagers on the team (Biehn, of course, since he’s the hot one). It’s actually better than some of the full-on sex comedies from its day – there’s more of a story and not as much stupid, silly shit. They even explore the sexism that was still so common in 1978. Some people do not want her as a coach despite the fact that she’s a goddamn gold medal Olympic athlete. She was hired based on her resume having a unisex first name. Whatever. Coach is still just a basic sexy teenage film from 1978. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10
– Red Sparrow – Wow. This was… quite bad. Way too long and surprisingly boring, I also found it a chore to finish this one. I think it tries too hard to be serious. It also tries to be sexy, I guess, with Jennifer Lawrence’s nudity and being required to use sex as a weapon, but it just felt gross and weird. I do think Lawrence is a really good actress but we all know her real-life goofy personality so well that this role just didn’t suit her. At all. What’s weird is that this movie made me appreciate Atomic Blonde much more. While that film was also not exactly great, it had a lot more style and a kick-ass soundtrack and it didn’t take itself so damn seriously. I was actually annoyed that I wasted my time watching Red Sparrow. That doesn’t happen often as I can usually find at least one thing to appreciate about a movie. – 5/10
– Re-Watches – Saw these years ago but re-watched recently with the kid:
– My Girl – Oh man, I love My Girl so much. Always been a fan of this one and thought Anna Chlumsky was adorable and absolutely lovable in this role. And, of course, Macaulay Culkin in a role quite different from his cheeky character in Home Alone. It was also great having Dan Aykroyd & Jamie Lee Curtis in this as they’re so perfect together. It’s a fantastic family movie that explores a distressing topic in a realistic & sensitive way without ever being too soppy or saccharine. The characters feel real as do their relationships. My heart broke a little as my hubby & kid both said they preferred Bridge To Terabithia, which we also watched recently. Well, I’ll always be a bigger fan of My Girl but both are great coming of age films that treat their young audience respectfully and don’t dumb things down. Kids aren’t stupid – they want movies that don’t talk down to them. I wish there were more family films like these. – 8/10
– Men In Black – Figured we better re-watch this before the new Men In Black: International with my beloved Chris Hemsworth. I don’t have a lot to say about this one as it was never an absolute favorite of mine but I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s also very unique, which I always appreciate. There’s no other film with a similar story (that I can think of?!). Remember when Will Smith was a big action star making films like this?? I miss these sort of movies. We don’t seem to get enough fun blockbusters anymore. I need to re-watch Independence Day too… – 7/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)
– ‘—All You Zombies—’ by Robert A. Heinlein– I finally read this short story because I loved the movie adaptation (Predestination – my review is HERE). This story truly is short! It was about ten pages. I have to say they actually did a brilliant job adapting this into a full length movie. As the story involves someone “telling” a story, it works in the movie as they show what’s being told in flashbacks. Nothing extra is actually added (well, there was a small subplot but I think that was kind of hinted at in Heinlein’s writing). I love the movie even more now – it’s one of the most faithful film adaptations I’ve seen. I highly recommend the film first, though, which is not normally the way I do things. But the film fleshes out the characters a lot more and uses a more serious tone that works better than the almost dark humor of the original story. But certainly read this afterwards if you appreciate the film. – 4/5
– The Rats by James Herbert– This was fun! I reserved this at the library after seeing a picture of the cover online and loving the cheesy look of it (not the cover above, although that has a great pulpy look too). This is the first James Herbert book I’ve read and I’m not sure why as this genre is my type of thing. It reminded me a bit of Dean Koontz but it’s certainly more violent than his stuff (and with more sex – it made me realize that Koontz doesn’t get very graphic with the sex stuff. Damn.). I enjoyed this one and I’ll definitely read the rest in the trilogy, although I won’t rush to read them immediately. Oh, if you don’t know the story: this is about large rats taking over London and killing people. Pretty straightforward horror stuff but would make for a good cheesy horror film if they did it right. I see it was made into a movie called Deadly Eyes in 1982 but it sounds dreadful. I love this bit of trivia from IMDb: “Dachshunds were dressed up as rats for the special effects.” Ha! Sounds atrocious! – 3/5
– The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Umm. This is yet another dystopian YA book series and I’m starting to think I need to stop reading so much of this genre. What can I say? I love the dystopian shit! Maybe I should explore the “old adult” dystopian novels. OA! Any recommendations? Because I found this book really boring and don’t plan to continue reading the rest of the series. I read this because it’s been adapted into a film, Chaos Walking, which was meant to come out last month but has now been pushed back to 2020. Bad sign! I can’t see how they could easily make this into a good film. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets. Then Todd Hewitt unexpectedly stumbles on a spot of complete silence. Which is impossible. And now he’s going to have to run… “. This book was unnecessarily long and, spoiler… There’s a baddie who never f*^king dies. He keeps coming back again & again like Freddy Freaking Krueger or something. And then, after soooooo many pages of our main character being chased, we don’t get a proper ending. Okay – I knew this was the first book in a series but plenty of first books don’t leave you hanging quite so much. The characters also lack decent development. Considering the length of this, I wanted to care about them more by the end. I don’t know. It’s still a good idea for a story but I’ve read far better YA novels. I’m starting to appreciate Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy more & more. I think it’s time to introduce those to my kid. I could do with re-reading those. That’s great YA writing… – 2/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
Well, I’m still watching Grey’s Anatomy & The Walking Dead even though they annoy the shit out of me. Bring on the final series of Game Of Thrones!!!! I can’t freaking wait!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
As always, my plan is to watch a few movies. Hopefully good movies! I’m in desperate need of seeing a really good movie. 2019 has been disappointing so far. Also need to read a good book. Any recommendations??
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
– Pet Sematary – Saw this already. I’m a huge Stephen King fan and love the first adaptation of this, which came out when I was a teenager. I’ll review this in full soon. It mostly feels pointless to have done another film but it does improve on the first adaptation in a few areas.
– Shazam! – Saw this as well. Am honestly scared to review it after seeing people on Twitter get death threats for giving this a negative review. Insane. Well, I’ll still review it in full at some point. And I’ll prepare for any backlash since, um, I liked but definitely didn’t love this. It has some good laughs & very likable characters but is also quite a flawed film overall.
– The Sisters Brothers – Read this book and did a (super short!) review HERE. It was a fun book although it wasn’t my sort of thing so I’ll wait for Netflix to watch this film adaptation.
– Missing Link – Might try to go to this since it’s a Laika film and they’re often good (although they can be a bit hit or miss).
– Happy As Lazzaro – Looks like a quirky Italian film. Will wait for Netflix, though.
– Wonder Park – Hmm. This actually has fairly bad reviews so far so I’ll skip it. Love that my kid is at the age where she only wants to go to animated films with good reviews. I do try to not let her be too snobby of a film fan, though! I still let her watch some shitty films. Like High School Musical…
– Hellboy – Is it just me or do the trailers make this look BAD?! I certainly won’t go to it but will watch at home if it ends up being good.
– Mid90s – Want to see this but have a feeling it might be too indie to get a full cinema release.
– Little – This looks dumb as shit but for some strange reason I kind of want to see it. But I sure as hell won’t spend money on seeing it in the cinema.
– Wild Rose – Again, I’d wait for Netflix on this one. I HATE country music but do love stories that revolve around people in the music industry (such as The Rose and A Star Is Born) so I’ll definitely watch it sometime.
– Greta – This is so the type of movie that I enjoy watching and that the hubby will happily let me watch without him since it looks a bit shit. This looks like those cheesy 80’s & 90’s guilty pleasure thrillers such as Single White Female. I especially want to see this as Isabelle Huppert is in it and I think I developed a weird sort of girl crush on her after seeing Elle. She’s 66-years-old and sexy as hell. Sounds like she might be some sort of psycho in this? Ohh. Fun!
– Dragged Across Concrete – Does look good but, again, I’ll wait to watch it at home. Prefer to watch violent films where I can hide my face behind a pillow.
– Avengers: Endgame – HELL YEAH! I’m not even a huge superhero fan but am massively excited about this one. My tickets are already booked.
– Eighth Grade – Finally!!! This movie is finally being released in the UK. Been wanting to see it for months.
I always end with some good music that was in something that I watched. This time I have to go with I Got 5 On It feat. Michael Marshall (Tethered Mix) by Luniz from the fantastic Us soundtrack.