Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2017

I hope you all had a great Christmas/time-off-of-work holiday! Can you believe it’s almost 2018? Can you believe the world even survived 2017?!? Well, here’s the shit I watched & read in December. Yeah, I know the month isn’t quite over. I’ll probably be watching Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle today or tomorrow… (I did! I’ve edited the post to add it)

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Star Wars: The Last JediMy Rating: 8/10
Wolf ChildrenMy Rating: 8/10
Jumanji: Welcome To The JungleMy Rating: 7.5/10
Ace In The Hole – My Rating: 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – I wasn’t sure how I felt about this after seeing it. Mainly, I was disappointed. I’ve now just seen it a second time, worried I’d end up hating it. I actually liked it more. Maybe it will grow on me… My Rating: 8/10

Some Like It Hot – I thoroughly enjoyed this Billy Wilder classic, which I watched as well as Roman Holiday to get more IMDB Top 250 films ticked off my list. I’m not a huge comedy fan so they’re never my first choice of films to watch. But this is good comedy. Maybe I should stick to old stuff? The writing is so much better than the shit we get today. I do love Jack Lemmon & he was easily my favorite thing about this. This is also the first Marilyn Monroe movie I’ve ever seen and I can now understand her sex appeal, although I can’t picture her playing any other sort of role. The character of Sugar Kane was perfect for her, though, and these three made for a fantastic trio (Tony Curtis being the other one). This was certainly one of the more enjoyable Top 250 films that I’ve watched in quite a while. My Rating: 8/10

Jumanji: Welcome To The JungleNot gonna lie – this film is a lot of fun & I really enjoyed it. I’ll review it in full on Sunday. My Rating: 7.5/10 (reviewed HERE)

Lion – I’m desperately trying to watch some of the many 2017 UK cinema releases that I missed out on before posting my end-of-year lists next week but I don’t think I’ll manage to see many more. I’ve started with all the “Oscar” movies, which we got here in January. They’ve been disappointing (Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea, Super Boring Jackie). All good but not “all-time great Oscar classics”. Lion is the same but I enjoyed it the most (although Moonlight & Manchester By The Sea are better films). I’m just not a heavy drama person & I’m a sucker for uplifting, happy endings. And Lion has an amazing true story which gave me warm fuzzies. I admit to not knowing the true story, however, and don’t know how much was added for dramatic effect. The ending felt a little too… Perfect? I wonder if that’s exactly how that went down. As a film, Lion is flawed. The pacing isn’t great and it felt far longer than it was. I had no idea that Dev Patel was only in half the film (he shows up halfway through) but that was okay as the young boy playing him in the first half (Sunny Pawar) was great. Where’s HIS nomination?! I liked how they spent a good amount of time showing his bond with his brother in the beginning. I expected to prefer the second half of the film but that’s where it dragged plus Rooney Mara felt a bit pointless. Nicole Kidman was very good (I used to hate her but I’m starting to like her). I’m rambling. Lion is a feel-good true story with good performances but the movie could’ve been a bit better. My Rating: 7/10

Roman Holiday Another one to tick off my Top 250 list. I was a little disappointed with this one. I think I had images from another Audrey Hepburn film confused with this one (not Breakfast At Tiffany’s or My Fair Lady – I’ve seen those). Anyway – it turned out that I knew nothing about this plot whatsoever or that she was a princess in it. I think it hasn’t aged as well as some of her more iconic films but I think that’s mainly because this same story has now been done in a lot of films since, although I recognize that it was probably a very original idea at the time. So the story itself is just okay but Hepburn & Gregory Peck are great together, which will be what makes this a beloved classic. Hepburn won an Oscar for Roman Holiday and I did enjoy seeing this fashion icon in an early role as I’ve not seen many of her films. Hubby pointed out that, along with Some Like It Hot, I watched two very different female icons of their time and it’s interesting to compare the two. I can see why both had their fans but I can’t identify with Hepburn in any way whatsoever. I guess I have no class. Plus, I like some curves and Monroe had some va-va-VOOM. But I also can’t identify with that! Conclusion: I like what I’ve seen of both of them. I need to watch more of their films. My Rating: 7/10

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure – This was cute. Why the hell did people have such a problem with it?? People need to chill the f*%k out sometimes! It’s not as good as Frozen Fever but still enjoyable and I once again loved Anna’s & Elsa’s dresses. My Rating: 6.5/10

Life – Another 2017 film that I’ve just caught up on. Meh. It’s a highly flawed film but I did get some enjoyment out of it and I thought the alien was fairly well done. And the deaths were super gross in kind of a cool way. The characters were poorly developed but, if you’re simply wanting a death-by-evil-alien film, this will do. It’s interesting that it came out the same year as Alien: Covenant & I know some people preferred Life. As much as Covenant pissed me the hell off, I still have to say it’s the better film. Slightly. But both suck and Alien & Aliens kick the living SHIT out of them. My Rating: 6/10

StorksThis was fine. The babies were adorable. It’s not like this is a Disney or Pixar film, which are in a league of their own. But it was far better & more enjoyable than that stupid Sing movie that I watched last month. My Rating: 5.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt – This strange Western is the only novel I managed to read this month, plus half of a book of short horror stories (called Alfred Hitchcock’s Book Of Horror Stories: No. 6. This is soooo my type of thing). The Sisters Brothers was interesting. I have to admit that I picked it up (for 50p in a charity shop) based 100% on that cool ass cover up there. I didn’t love it but it’s not exactly my sort of thing. I did like it, though, and found the story refreshingly original. The characters were also really well developed and I especially liked brother Eli (who will be played by John C. Reilly in the movie next year and who I think is perfect for the role). The movie will also star Joaquin Phoenix & Jake Gyllenhaal and I think it has the potential to be made into a thoroughly entertaining film. I recommend reading the book first if you like the sound of the movie. It’s probably quite different from anything you’ve read before.

Currently Reading: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King– I was so happy to get this for Christmas! Love the concept. I’m about ten pages in… Hopefully I’ll be finished by the time I do my end-of-January post.

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Black Mirror – Season 1, Episode 3: The Entire History Of You & Season 2, Episode 1: Be Right Back‬. I’m loving this show & glad I’m finally watching it. I have to say, though, that The Entire History Of You was a very weak episode (starring the new Doctor Who Doctor Jodie Whittaker, I should add). But I expect there to be brilliant ones & bad ones and this one was a poor rip-off of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind but with hateful characters. Luckily, Be Right Back got the show back on track & is my favorite episode so far. Starring Domhnall Gleeson & Hayley Atwell, it was a thoughtful look at dealing with grief in a strange new way as well as questioning whether our social media personalities are a true reflection of who we really are.

Grey’s Anatomy: Season 14 so far. Why do I watch this stupid show? I think it’s because the hubby won’t let me watch anything without him that he might have the tiniest bit of interest in watching. So I get stuck watching shit like Grey’s Anatomy when alone. Thanks, hubby! ;-P

• The Walking Dead: Season 8 so far. The Walking Dead sucks SO much now that I’ve ranked it below Grey’s F*^king Anatomy. Someone bring Frank Darabont back! I don’t care how mean he is! He wouldn’t have written this season’s dumbest & most pointless death EVER. But, like Grey’s Anatomy, I’ve stuck with it this long that I feel I have to watch to the end. Watching the TV screen like a damn zombie…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

YEAR-END BEST OF 2017 LISTS!!!!! Yeah, I love lists. I have a different list ready to post every day next week starting on Monday. You’ll be sick of me by next Friday (if you aren’t already). 😉 Here are the lists I’ll be posting next week:

– My IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update
– My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
– My Top Ten Books Read In 2017
– My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017 (Release dates prior to 2017)
– My Top Ten Movies Of 2017 (Released in the UK in 2017)

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

I have to admit that I lose the will to live a little bit when looking at the list of upcoming 2018 films. Can anything other than superhero movies be made? Please?!?!? There are a few I’m looking forward to, though. It’ll be great to finally get to see The Shape Of Water in February after hearing about it for so long. But let’s see what’s out in January that I want to see…

Coco. Finally! I hate how the UK has to wait so long for Pixar films. Yet we get the Marvel stuff before America… I’d rather get the Pixar stuff first!

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Guess I gotta watch this with all the high ratings. Looks good. But I’m looking forward to February more. There are loads of movies I want to see in February! But I’ll talk about those in my January month-end recap.

See you all in 2018. Hope you have a Happy New Year! 🙂

I’m sorry. This pops into my head anytime I hear the Coco movie mentioned. Baking soda! Make it stop!!!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Review

***SPOILER-FREE Initial Thoughts***

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Directed & Written by Rian Johnson

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro

Music by John Williams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.

My Opinion:

When I reviewed Star Wars: The Force Awakens (HERE), I wrote about it right after seeing it and before having time to fully process it. I didn’t want to put a rating on it right away & I didn’t want to go overboard on raving about how much I loved it just in case I was still too high on the feeling of having seen a new STAR WARS MOVIE!!!!

I’m a huge fan of the original trilogy and I can’t see ever loving one of the new films quite as much but The Force Awakens came very close. I knew immediately that I loved it, even though I tried to hold back a bit when first writing about it. With The Last Jedi, it’s a bit different. I’m again writing this too soon after seeing it, which I don’t really like to do as I like to think about a film first. However, this time I’m not worried about going overboard raving about my love of the movie. This time, I’m afraid of being too harsh. This time, I don’t immediately love the movie. At least, I don’t think I do. I hate to make a statement like that so soon as maybe I’ll change my mind. I hope I change my mind.

Don’t worry – this isn’t like the prequels. This is a good film. I think the problem, for me, is that it isn’t much like Star Wars. I didn’t feel that way about The Force Awakens. That film instantly felt like a part of the Star Wars universe. I love Rey & Finn & BB-8 and it didn’t take long at all for me to accept them as a part of that world. I don’t feel that way about any of the new characters introduced in The Last Jedi. In fact, I thought there were too many new additions and it took time away from further developing existing characters that I actually care about.

Okay – let’s do this a different way otherwise I’ll just ramble on incoherently. As I’m still processing the film, I’ll try to separate my thoughts out into the good stuff & the not-so-good stuff.

What I Liked:

Several Great Moments Linking To The Original Trilogy. Well, this is tough to talk about in any sort of way as I have to stay completely spoiler-free. I mean, I’m not Holly Willoughby (yeah, she spoiled something major live on TV. you can see a clip here if you really want a big spoiler. luckily, I don’t watch TV). There are a few really good moments involving original trilogy characters and those moments made me feel all warm & fuzzy. And I guess that’s all I can say. Let’s discuss this movie like crazy in the comments, though! My comment section can be a spoiler zone!

Again Seeing Characters I Know & Love. Obviously. How awesome to see Luke doing much more than just standing there & staring at Rey. And Mark Hamill does a fantastic job, by the way. Loved him! And Leia… I’ll forever be heartbroken about Carrie Fisher and hate knowing she can’t be in the final film. Luckily, she does have plenty to do in this one compared to the last one. R2-D2 (my personal favorite), C-3PO, Chewbacca… I adore these characters. I grew up with them. I’ll always love seeing them up on screen. And, of course, it was great to see Rey & Kylo Ren develop much more (especially Kylo, as he came across as a slightly whiny emo kid last time). Finn has a lot to do but I felt he was quite wasted and far preferred his storyline in The Force Awakens. Poe also has a much bigger role this time but I don’t really feel much of a connection with him. And BB-8 rules. I do care about these Force Awakens characters, even though it’ll never be quite as much as I care about the original trilogy characters. Unfortunately, I can’t say I care about any of the new characters in The Last Jedi (more about that later).

Porgs. They’re cute.

What I Didn’t Like So Much:

Porgs. They’re utterly & completely pointless.

The New Characters. Oh man. After the fantastic job they did with the introduction of new characters in The Force Awakens, I really was expecting to walk away from this one with at least a couple of new favorites. The best new addition is probably Rose. I liked her & Kelly Marie Tran did well in the role but it’s far too big of a part. We already have our main characters. I think this wasn’t helped by the fact that her storyline dragged a little and, by having so much time devoted to it, it was taking time away from characters we already know and want to see much more of than we do (I’ll get to this later – don’t expect to see very much of the “lesser” original trilogy characters in this). Laura Dern also does a good job, but… Why should I care about this character who has come from out of nowhere? There are other characters around Leia who we already know & who I’d have rather seen given more authority & screen time. Benicio del Toro was very Benicio del Toro. Meh.

Not Enough Of The Original Trilogy Characters. Maybe a tiny spoiler but don’t expect to see much of R2-D2, C-3PO or Chewbacca. I’m extremely disappointed with how little screen time they got.

Some Of The Comedy. I love the small bits of comedy in the Star Wars original trilogy & in The Force Awakens. There’s even more in this, which was unexpected as it’s a dark film but wasn’t totally unwelcome. We need bits of comedy that are done well & they worked perfectly in the previous films. I got a few giggles from The Last Jedi but I have to agree with the hubby when he said that the humor in this one felt more like what we get in a Marvel movie. Okay, fine. I guess. But it didn’t feel like Star Wars humor. It just didn’t quite fit.

Very Few Great Images. I’ve seen some comments already about how good this movie looks. I agree there’s some “pretty” imagery. The use of red works really well. But the whole film is so damn dark. And there weren’t really any moments where I thought “wow – that’s a great, artistic shot”. I can think of SO many images from the original trilogy that looked amazing and like something you’d hang up and frame as a work of art. I know not everyone cares about this sort of thing but it’s very important to me. It’s a big part of why I’m a weird girl who likes things like Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. They’re gorgeous. I want to see art up on the big screen. This movie feels more focused on telling its (somewhat convoluted) story. The story is important, yes. But so is everything else. Check out this video the hubby sent me of “The Star Wars: Concept Trailer“, which shows what Star Wars would look like if all of Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art had been used. Can we please get these students to work on the next Star Wars film??

The Shades Of Gray. This is something that people will either love or hate (mostly love). It seems there can be no simple good vs evil in movies anymore. Everyone wants shades of gray and conflicted characters and blah blah blah. And that’s fine & I totally get that. That’s exactly what I want from a lot of films, especially sci-fi. From things like Blade Runner 2049. From Star Wars? Not quite so much. Give me the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey thing. It was done beautifully in the original trilogy and the formula clearly works otherwise there wouldn’t be this massive Star Wars following. The Force Awakens started to follow the same pattern. Now? I don’t know. Just be prepared to see these movies go in a completely different direction now. And R2-D2 & C-3PO will clearly no longer be our “droid guides” through this journey. They seem to have been cast aside. Which leads me to my next gripe…

The Way It Feels Like The Original Trilogy Characters Are Being Cast Aside. I’m very happy that Luke & Leia are given loads of screen time in this. I don’t really have any complaints about how their characters were handled. As I said, though, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca and some other characters I won’t mention (not sure what’s common knowledge when it comes to others) are truly cast aside in this film. It felt almost as though Rian Johnson wants rid of them & to focus more on all new characters. I know times are very different nowadays and people are demanding that things be new & constantly changed, but this is the most beloved film franchise. Do it justice. Don’t throw it away. Did J.J. Abrams do too much “fan service” in The Force Awakens? Maybe. But this is Star Wars. The rules are a little different. Surely you can keep old as well as new fans happy.

I Can’t See Where They’ll Go With The Next Film Or Why We Should Care. I also can’t say much about this in order to avoid spoilers. Let’s just say that I’m less excited about the next film now. I think it’s going to be too “different” for my own liking. The hubby & I have discussed this movie quite a bit since seeing it (as much as I love it, he’s a far bigger Star Wars fan than I am) and I think we both feel similar in not yet knowing exactly what to think about it. It’s disappointing to not instantly love it. One thing he asked me is if I feel that these sequels are adding to the story in a way that feels right or if they’re starting to kind of ruin the magic of the original trilogy now. Okay – that’s not quite how he phrased it but it was something like that. At this point in time, I can say that I thought The Force Awakens was taking my beloved Star Wars forward in a way that would do no harm to the original trilogy’s legacy. After seeing The Last Jedi, I’m not sure if I can make that same statement. I guess we’ll have to see where Episode IX takes us and just hope that it doesn’t damage something that so many of us love.

Overall, at the moment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has left me feeling a little bit cold. Which is heartbreaking. I’ll give it my initial rating, which I may think is a bit too low once I’ve watched the movie a second time. We’ll see (and maybe it will change depending on what I think of the next film & how it all ties in). But I can’t see my rating going up by more than half a point.

My Rating: 8/10

Now let’s discuss this movie in the Comments! SPOILERS ALLOWED!!! I’m dying to discuss this. 🙂 Just try to still put a warning & a bit of a gap….