Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2021

Happy May! I watched way too many movies in April. I actually managed to review some, too! I’ll post the links to those & discuss the rest below. Here’s a quick list of everything I watched & read:

Promising Young Woman, Spontaneous, Swallow, Bloodsport, Battleship Potemkin, The Innocents (1961), Audition, Sound Of Metal, Cat People, House On Haunted Hill, Love And Monsters, Splinter, Palm Springs, Bad Girls, The Fundamentals Of Caring, Run, Teen Spirit, The House Of Tomorrow, Thunder Force, My Octopus Teacher, Pick Of The Litter, Tell Me Who I Am, The Sound Of Music, Cast Away, The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, An American Tail, Gregory’s Girl, Happy Gilmore, The Present, A Love Song for Latasha, Two Distant Strangers, Dollar Babies Stephen King Shorts & the book Roadwork by Stephen King

MOVIES WATCHED IN APRIL (ranked best to worst):

Promising Young Woman – I managed to review this in time for the Oscars. I really liked this one. Full review in the link. – 8/10

Spontaneous – Also reviewed in the link. I loved this movie! Darkly funny & deeply upsetting with great performances from its two leads. – 8/10

Swallow – Another one I reviewed. It’s very disturbing but also a very beautiful looking film. I liked this one quite a lot but would be reluctant to recommend it (it’s about a woman who swallows dangerous objects). Along with the two above this, I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched this year. Full review in the title link and one more image below to show the look of this movie. – 8/10

Bloodsport – Reviewed this as well because I had so much fun watching it and seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme doing painful looking splits through the whole thing. It’s a terrible movie but I tried to explain in my review why I’ve ranked it above things such as the next two movies, which are classics & obviously much better films. But this one was more fun! Here’s a picture of him doing those splits… – 7.5/10

Battleship Potemkin – Watched this for my IMDb Top 250 Project. Think I’d been avoiding this as I thought it was a war movie but was intrigued when I realised it was a silent film from 1925. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel’s officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Mutiny! I like a good mutiny! I’m so glad I gave this a go. It’s a fantastic film. It’s one of those old films that’s just as relevant today. It has police brutality & people fighting back against unfair treatment. It’s surprisingly brutal for the time and a powerful film. It also has the above scene which I assume inspired a similar scene in The Untouchables (another brilliant film). I recommend this one, which is still on U.K. Prime. It’s also very short, not that it should matter, but it was easy to squeeze in a 75 minute film. I should also point out that the movie is based on the real Potemkin battleship. According to Wikipedia (if you want to read more about it): “The Russian battleship Potemkin became famous when the crew rebelled against the officers in June 1905 (during that year’s revolution), which is now viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.” – 7.5/10

The Innocents (1961) – I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus). I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know). – 7.5/10

Sound Of Metal – Also reviewed this in full at the link. Good film & performances. – 7/10

Cat People – I’m loving all the classics on BBC iPlayer, especially old classic horror like this & the one below as I shamefully haven’t explored pre-1970 horror much (besides Alfred Hitchcock). This is a great story & I suppose a bit saucy for its time (1942). Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.” I did actually see the 1982 Cat People with Nastassja Kinski years ago but don’t remember a thing now other than I think it was a lot more “sexy” (obviously). Anyway, the girl in this is great (actress Simone Simon playing Serbian immigrant Irena) and I enjoyed the story and there was some cool creepy stuff going on with a panther stalking people (IS it a panther or is it actually Irena? Hmm!). Guess I should watch the sequel, The Curse Of The Cat People, sometime soon. – 7/10

House On Haunted Hill – I have another shameful confession to make: I’m not sure if I’ve seen an old Vincent Price movie before? I may have many years ago but too long ago to remember now. Which is odd, as I loved scary & creepy stories from a young age (my two favorite TV shows as a kid were the Alfred Hitchcock TV show & The Twilight Zone). But I missed out on these sort of films on TV as a kid, I guess. Being my age, Vincent Price to me is the cool voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller & the awesome inventor in Edward Scissorhands (adore that film). Anyway, to show my age even more, the main reason I’ve wanted to see this for years is because I knew it was the movie the horror-loving character in my favorite Amazing Stories episode was playing on his TV. That was called Go To The Head Of The Class, FYI, and it RULES. It’s a short horror comedy starring Christopher Lloyd & Mary Stuart Masterson (I reviewed it very briefly HERE). I always assumed I’d had the ending of this movie ruined for me but it turned out the scene they used in Amazing Stories wasn’t the ending (phew). It’s a fun story with a lot of twists and back stabbing and you don’t know who can be trusted & what’s going on. Good stuff. I’d happily take recommendations of other old horrors to watch (I’ve always been curious about Hammer Horror films as well…). – 7/10

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) – Well, this was fucked up. To be fair, I knew it was going to be fucked up (it’s why I’ve wanted to see it for years). So I grabbed the DVD a few months ago when I saw it very cheap. I’d say it didn’t quite live up to the hype after all this time but I suppose there’s been more “extreme” stuff since this one (I was surprised it’s a 1999 film as I thought it was a bit more recent). I mean, we’ve since had films like Oldboy which was much more shocking. I absolutely hated Oldboy, by the way – it took things way too far and I found it disgusting but I do realise that it was made for shock value. I wanted to see Audition as I love foreign films & especially love Japanese films and I always like a good horror.

I’d say the movie starts out quite well as we watch this widower go about living his life with his likeable teenage son until a friend of his has the idea to set up a fake movie audition so the widower can interview a bunch of unsuspecting young women to see if any could be a potential new wife. Of course they’re all half his age. I’m always uncomfortable with hints of sexual abuse involving children in movies and wasn’t surprised to find that be a part of this as there needs to be some sort of explanation for a woman ending up being a complete psycho in a film. But does there? Does that always have to be the damn reason? Can we not just be CRAZY for no good reason, dammit?!

Anyway. It’s a good movie & I can see why extreme horror lovers like it as, even though it starts out as a pretty straightforward film, it goes batshit crazy at the end. I do like movies that have a sudden shift like that. But I didn’t like the development of the woman’s character in this. Well, I didn’t feel her character was very developed at all. Why is she doing this, besides the sexual abuse she endured which the movie happily hinted at? For some reason I’d heard this was a feminist film but I’d say it’s the opposite? Plus, the main guy isn’t a bad guy – he’s just lonely since his wife’s death and it was his friend’s idea to set up the fake audition anyway. And god I was SO worried about their adorable dog the whole time.

This review is all over the place… I’m not really sure how I felt. As I said, I think it’s a good film (as in well made) so I’m giving it a decent rating. I did really like elements of it but was disappointed overall as it’s not as good as the hype made it out to be. I’ve not seen any other Takashi Miike films but would possibly watch another based on this. First Love is on Sky & I’m curious about that one. Anyone seen it? – 7/10

Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog below! – 7/10

Splinter – Was recommended this one (thanks, Film Miasma!). Didn’t really know anything about it but think I may have avoided it at the time as the poster looked so nasty and I’m a wuss with really gross stuff. Well, it is pretty gross to be fair. But it’s kind of borderline body horror gross in that sort of fake-looking way that I like from old Cronenberg movies so I was fine with this. The characters are also strong, which is important to me (especially as horror movie characters are so often rubbish & hateful). We even have a baddie who ends up not being such a baddie after all & I liked that. And the girl is pretty kick ass. It’s also mostly set in one place while they’re trapped in a gas station by this weird, um, parasite thing and I’m always impressed with movies that manage to stay interesting in pretty much just one location. Here’s the IMDb synopsis if you’re interested: “Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.” – 6.5/10

Bad Girls – How did I never see a Drew Barrymore movie?! I watch all her movies! We grew up together. She’s my buddy! Mary Stuart Masterson is in this as well & I love her too so I immediately watched this when it showed up on Disney Star. I’m being very kind with my rating as this movie admittedly isn’t the greatest. But I liked having four female lead characters trying to escape evil men in the Old West. Drew is the sexy one & Madeline Stowe is the badass smart one & Andie MacDowell is the girly one and Mary Stuart Masterson is the nice one. And there are two nice guys but the rest are a bunch of rapists and of course the four women were all prostitutes since that’s all women were allowed to be in the Old West (according to movies, anyway – I don’t know if that’s true?!). Anyway, it’s a fun but dumb movie and of course a bit dated now. I wasn’t that thrilled at the ending (not the very end but just before that). I wanted them to get more revenge. – 6.5/10

Palm Springs – This is one of those movies that all of Film Twitter was going on about & saying it was one of the best films of 2020 & I was just completely underwhelmed when I finally saw it. It’s good but I’ve certainly seen better. It’s yet another take on the Groundhog Day idea of living the same day over & over again. Which is fine as, actually, some of the movies using this idea have been quite good. Edge Of Tomorrow is great. Another movie, called The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, just came out this year & was far more enjoyable than Palm Springs (in my opinion). Hell, I think I even enjoyed Before I Fall more and that was pretty cheesy. Then of course there’s Happy Death Day & its sequel which are fun but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (my hubby hated those). Palm Springs is probably a bit better than those two but I just found the two lead characters stuck in this “same day” to be too self-absorbed & unlikeable. I didn’t really give a shit if they would ever escape their predicament as I didn’t care about them. The best thing about the movie was J.K. Simmons & I ended up caring much more about his character. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too picky lately. The movie is fun and still manages to have (yet another) fairly unique twist on this same idea. Watch it if you like Andy Samberg, I guess (maybe I don’t). – 6.5/10

The Fundamentals Of Caring – This was fine. One of those fun “buddy” road trip movies that’s perfectly pleasant to watch but you’ll probably forget all about it in a year. Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd, though? He’s adorable. He’s hired to be the caregiver for the character played by Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez joins them on their journey to go see a big cow. Or something like that. See? I’ve already forgotten. – 6.5/10

Run – This one was “fine” as well. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should move it up a couple places as I probably enjoyed it more than the previous two movies but, nah, I’m too lazy and it doesn’t deserve it anyway. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10

Teen Spirit – This was boring. It looked like a fun “teen talent search” movie so I watched it with my daughter but we ended up barely paying attention. Elle Fanning was fine but seemed very miscast. The director is Max Minghella so it’s probably hard to try to live up to his father Anthony Minghella’s reputation (I preferred Teen Spirit to that boring ass The English Patient movie, though! Hahaha!). This had some fun pop songs in it, at least. But, like, worse versions of those songs since they were sung by worse singers. It had a Grimes song too (sung by Grimes)! It’s funny – I absolutely loved two songs by Grimes on her 2012 album (the songs Oblivion and Genesis, which I wrote about HERE). Now they’re suddenly sticking those two songs in teen movies all the time lately since her weird Elon Musk relationship. Well, it’s one of those two songs again but I can’t remember which one. Also, I know this movie is set in the U.K. (well, Isle Of Wight to be precise) and I know we have no sun in the U.K. but, holy shit, why was this movie so dark?! Couldn’t see a damn thing! Whatever. This movie wasn’t bad just meh. Have to say I far preferred a quirky little film I saw recently starring Max Minghella (Elvis And Anabelle with Blake Lively). – 6/10

The House Of Tomorrow – This was even more boring. Don’t know why exactly, as it had some pretty big names & talent in it. I, again, just didn’t care all that much for the characters and the friend the main boy makes plus his sister are kind of assholes. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis that talked me into watching this because it sounded really cool: “The film tells futurist, architect, and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller’s incredible story through two teens hoping to get laid, become punk gods, and survive high school.” I wanted way more punk music than we got in this movie. – 6/10

Thunder Force – Yeah… This was bad. Really bad. But I expected it to be bad, so, there you go. I dunno. I got a couple laughs out of this as there were some jokes totally aimed at ’80s kids (like, totally). No young people will have laughed at those jokes, I guess. And I kind of liked Jason Bateman having, um, crab arms for whatever reason I missed since I wasn’t paying much attention. Crab arms. Why?! Who knows! – 4.5/10

Documentaries, Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Documentaries:

My Octopus Teacher – Reviewed in full at the link. I loved this little octopus! – 7.5/10

Pick Of The Litter – This is a documentary following a litter of five puppies as they grow up and are trained to become guide dogs. This was fascinating as I’ve often wondered how they go about training dogs for such an important job. I didn’t realise that quite a few don’t actually pass the tests to become guide dogs. Watched this with my daughter & we loved it. We were really rooting for each of the dogs to pass all the tests! You get to know each of the dogs & their personalities so that was great. And it was so heartwarming when they decided what to do with one of the dogs who failed (I just about cried! I never do that). Plus, of course, these dogs were adorable and I was totally in love with all of them. Gotta add one more picture of one of these cuties! – 7/10

Tell Me Who I Am – Not gonna lie, I really have to force myself to watch documentaries and would rather just watch a film instead. I especially struggle to watch depressing documentaries: Watching cute puppies is more my speed. But I was intrigued by this IMDb synopsis: “After losing his memory in an accident, Alex Lewis trusts his twin brother, Marcus, to tell him about his past only to discover that he’s hiding a dark secret about their childhood.” Well, it wasn’t going to be a nice secret, was it, or else he wouldn’t have kept it from his brother for years. And it IS horrible and it’s a hard watch. The most interesting thing to me was wondering whether the brother who knew the truth did the right thing or not to keep it hidden. I honestly don’t know. I can see why he did it, but… I don’t know. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do. A very difficult situation for everyone involved. – 6.5/10

Shorts:

Saw loads of short films in April. First, I did very brief reviews of these three as they were nominated for Oscars:

The Present
A Love Song for Latasha
Two Distant Strangers

Stephen King Shorts:

Then there was a great online film festival in April put on by Barker Street Cinema (Twitter account HERE). Over three nights, they aired loads of Stephen King short films, called the “Dollar Babies”. These are the short stories Stephen King lets students and aspiring filmmakers have the rights to for just one dollar. I think that’s such a great idea and it was cool seeing a bunch of adaptations as I absolutely love King’s short stories. I’m just heartbroken they could only be aired that one time & they were on American time so I only caught the first ones each night as I couldn’t stay up all night long. I did manage to watch those listed below. They were all good (but you know I love ranking things so I’ve at least ranked them even though I’ve not reviewed them). My favorite was Red Clark’s Gray Matter from 2017. And I loved seeing the oldest Dollar Baby, The Last Rung On The Ladder from 1987, as that’s an all-time favorite King story of mine (and not a horror, just a sad story). You can read the tweets about each short film on the Stephen King Rules Twitter account HERE. (Oh, and I ranked all the King books I’ve read HERE if you’re interested.)

The Dollar Baby Shorts I Saw:

Gray Matter
The Last Rung On The Ladder
The Doctor’s Case
Dedication
The Boogeyman
L.T.’s Theory Of Pets
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away
My Pretty Pony
One For The Road
Paranoid

And finally, thanks to Emma at emmakwall (explains it all) for posting about this freaky short on YouTube called Curve (the image I posted at the top of this Shorts section). It’s about a woman who wakes up on a slippery curved wall over a black hole we can’t see the bottom of & it’s scary as hell. You can watch it HERE.

Movies Rewatched In April:

The Sound Of Music – Rewatched this with the kid one lazy weekend afternoon as we both love this film. What can I say about it? I think this movie is perfection & easily my favorite musical along with The Wizard Of Oz. LOVE IT. – 10/10

Cast Away – Enjoyed rewatching this as I’d not seen it since going to it when it was released in 2000. I actually liked it even more this time around. Think I could identify more with Tom Hanks & his relationship with Helen Hunt now that I’m 20 years older. Could really feel the heartbreak at the end. – 7.5/10

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – This is a 2021 film that I really liked. I wouldn’t normally rewatch something so soon but I rewatched it with my daughter as I thought she’d really like it too (she did). I think this is quite a good movie & a better twist on the “Groundhog Day” idea than Palm Springs was as the characters were far more likeable in this one. My full review is in the link. – 7.5/10

An American Tail – Hadn’t seen this in years but remember thinking that Fievel was adorable and have always loved the Somewhere Out There song (the version sung by the cute mice, not the boring radio version by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram). Nothing has changed. Fievel is still adorable & I still love that song. And now my daughter does too. The movie is good but it’s those two things that really stand out. Here he is singing it below – He’s so cute! – 7/10

Gregory’s Girl – This is a fun Scottish teen movie from 1980. Yeah, it’s very Scottish so you might struggle with the accents if you’re American (I did okay, though!). Obviously, it’s not one I grew up with as I only saw it after moving to the U.K. but I know it’s one that British people have fond memories of. It probably helps that it starts out with naked breasts. Besides that start, though, it’s actually quite a sweet movie about a boy with a crush. I’ll also point out that Clare Grogan from the band Altered Images is in this (I’ve always liked the Happy Birthday song & I Could Be Happy). Oh, and the director (Bill Forsyth) also did the very enjoyable Scottish film Local Hero that I could really do with rewatching as well. – 7/10

Happy Gilmore – I’ve said it plenty on this blog: I have no problem with Adam Sandler. I know it’s “uncool” to like him but I really like several of his movies (and admit that plenty do suck, yes). This one is okay – it’s somewhere in the middle of all those I’ve seen (I ranked his movies in that link). It’s not brilliant like The Wedding Singer but it’s got some funny moments. And Carl Weathers is in it! So that’s cool. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN APRIL

BOOKS READ

Roadwork by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) – I’m re-reading the four stories in the original The Bachman Books as it’s been over 20 years since I read them. I remembered loving The Long Walk & liking The Running Man a lot but didn’t remember a thing about the other two. Well, I reviewed The Long Walk & Rage HERE last month.

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I’ve not been eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it’s taken me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Children Of The Stones: Episodes 1-3 – This is a 1977 British TV mini-series available on YouTube. It’s about a small town with a mysterious stone circle which may be making the town’s residents a little crazy. Or something like that. I don’t know – I’ve only watched 3 of the 7 episodes so far but something weird is going on & I love weird. The people living in the town are acting like The Stepford Children at the moment and a father & son new to the town are wondering what the hell is going on. Strange race of people! No one knows who they were or what they were doing! And there’s this eerie painting of people dancing around the stones & great creepy-ass singing & chanting going on in the episodes. I’m enjoying it so far as this is SO my kind of thing. I love the supernatural & stuff like The Wicker Man & Stonehenge (which I made my hubby take me to a few times after moving to the U.K.). That might be partly to do with loving the Spinal Tap Stonehenge song too… (Oh, I’m totally going to add that song to the end of this post!).

If this sounds like your kind of thing too, it’s worth checking it out on YouTube. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia page about it to maybe further convince you: “The series is today considered a landmark in quality children’s drama and has been called “the scariest programme ever made for children”. The series follows the adventures of astrophysicist Adam Brake and his teenage son Matthew after they arrive in the small village of Milbury, which is built in the midst of a megalithic stone circle.

It’s a real place, too (Avebury, Wiltshire). So I might have to go check it out & pretend I’m living in ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history

My Name Is Earl: S1 Episodes 1-13 – Finished watching all of Raising Hope on Disney Plus, which the kid loved, so talked her into watching My Name Is Earl next as it’s from the same guy. She’s loving this too. I was a big fan when it was on but, for whatever reason, missed the last season or so. I’m really enjoying rewatching this as I think it’s a really funny show (and Randy cracks me up). The humor is a little iffy so I’m not sure how this & Raising Hope haven’t been “cancelled” yet. So we better binge these while we can!

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 Episodes 1-5 – They FINALLY started showing the latest season here in April. God I hate myself for watching this show but I can’t stop now after spending 17 years on it!!! This season is about f*^king Covid. Thanks for the escapism, Grey’s Anatomy!!! Sheesh.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: S1 Episode 4 – I’m sorry, I can’t get into this show at all. I’m not a huge Marvel fan but like everything well enough & have watched all the MCU films. But, after WandaVision being so fun & different, this show is a big disappointment. Also, I don’t remember now but I THINK episode 4 was the one that ended so violently?? Like, wow – that was very violent for something available to kids on Disney Plus. Well, I’ll watch the final two episodes eventually but it’s obvious I’m in no hurry. Always watched WandaVision ASAP…

Dinosaurs: The kid is watching this on Disney Plus. I tried to watch a couple of episodes. I wasn’t into the show back in the ’90s & I can see why. As my hubby pointed out, you’re better off watching short clips of the show’s funniest bits. It’s why the kid wanted to watch this, as she liked clips of the baby. Full episodes feel very long…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Well, I watched too much in April & it took forever to do this post & now I’m stressed out. I’ll slow down on the movie-watching (a little!) as I suppose I need to start mentally & physically preparing myself to re-join society in a month or two (do I have to?!). But I’m not off to a good start as I’ve already watched 6 movies in the first 3 days of May. Oops. Well, this is what I’ve watched if you’re interested. Maybe I should try to post full reviews of some of these through the month…

The Invisible Man (2020) – 7.5/10
The Hunt (2020) – 7.5/10
Happiest Season – 7/10
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 7/10
Good Boys – 6.5/10

The Crow – 9/10 (Rewatched this for the first time in years & I still love it).

And now I’ll end this post with Stonehenge by Spinal Tap since I keep thinking of it while watching Children Of The Stones.

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. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

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. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

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