Welcome to Day 5 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.
I found 2019 cinema releases to be disappointing overall. I went to a hell of a lot (thanks, Unlimited card!) and, though I very much enjoyed all 30 I’ve listed below, there were just far too many “average” movies released in 2019. Last year gave me nothing that will become an all-time favorite, which is unfortunate as a lot of recent years have given me at least 1 movie that I really loved. Speaking of which, I’ll be posting my top ten movies of the decade tomorrow. Again, I’ll cheat and make it a top 30 (like yesterday’s Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019, which does contain some new favorites). I haven’t fully decided on the decade list – my top four below have potential to squeeze into the 30.
I’m not saying those below are at all bad, though. In fact, it’s a very strong 30. I’d especially recommend any in the top 20 & loved that things like Fighting With My Family & Hustlers were very pleasant surprises as I didn’t expect to enjoy them nearly as much as I did. Hell, even Child’s Play was far better than I was expecting! So 2019 was a year of some very good films, TONS of “average” films, but not too many dreadful films (or perhaps I managed to avoid those. I’ve not seen Cats!).
Here are My Top Thirty 2019 Movie Releases (by UK release date):
Happy January! Here’s the stuff I watched & read in December. I’ll soon post my Top Ten Of 2019 lists and then I’ll be taking a long break from blogging. I may only do these monthly roundup posts this year. Will see how I feel in a few months. One of my resolutions this year is to watch fewer movies (at home, anyway). I watch too much shit!
– El Topo – Been putting off watching this for years so finally watched it as part of my Blind Spot project. It’s as bizarre as I was expecting and I always appreciate that. I can’t say it’s exactly a good film but it’s certainly interesting. I’m glad I finally watched it. I may try to do mini-reviews of my 2019 Blind Spot movies when I publish my post of ratings & rankings for them all next week. – 7.5/10
– In This Corner Of The World – This is a good anime movie which focuses on one young woman’s struggles during WWII Japan. Obviously, it’s a serious movie so it’s best to be in the right sort of mood if you watch it (certainly don’t do it as a double feature with Grave Of The Fireflies). I watched several anime movies in 2019 so may do a short post about all of them next week. – 7/10
– Paris, Texas – This was another Blind Spot choice of mine. It was good but a little disappointing, although I still love Harry Dean Stanton and he was fantastic in the film. Will try to post about it next week. – 7/10
– Big Fish & Begonia – Another anime film but this one was more my type of thing (fantasy & weirdness instead of a dreary war drama). It wasn’t as good as In This Corner Of The World, although my enjoyment will have been hampered by having to watch a version dubbed in English as it’s all I had. I far prefer to see anime in its original language as it loses some of the magic when in English. This movie was fine. It doesn’t measure up to the Ghiblis, though, despite having a similar sort of fantastical story. But nothing measures up to Studio Ghibli… – 6.5/10
– Shoplifters – I was desperate to see this Japanese film after everyone raved over it in 2018 (along with Roma, Cold War, and Burning). I’ve now seen all but Burning & all have been a disappointment, although I liked Shoplifters okay. Roma was boring as hell. Maybe Burning will be the one I like?? Anyway – As I said, Shoplifters was okay but I can’t see the reason for such rave reviews. The young girl was cute and the young boy was good but, overall, the characters were weak and the movie didn’t make you care all that much about them (well, maybe the two youngest ones). I just expected a really emotional film from what I’d read so I was disappointed to not care about the characters much and to find the movie a little bit boring. Oh well. – 6.5/10
– Climax – So. I finally saw this “shocking film”. To be honest, it’s not as shocking Gaspar Noé’s Love & certainly sounds nowhere near as shocking as what I’ve read about Irreversible (I’ll never watch that). This was fine. It’s about a group of dancers who drink a spiked drink and they all start hallucinating and all either get very violent or horny. Everyone is pretty hateful, just like in Love. And everyone is pretty pretty. And young. Sofia Boutella is the only decent character – she was good in this. It’s not a long movie but felt like I was watching these people lose their minds for HOURS. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it either. Meh. At least it’s a memorable film. Far preferred it to Love, at least. – 6/10
– Thunder Road – This was an odd one. A very indie film (I’m not sure what movies fulfill the indie definition anymore) about a guy having a breakdown after the death of his mother and his marriage falling apart and a custody battle taking place. It starts with his mother’s funeral, which was good in a dark comedy sort of way as the guy makes an embarrassing mess of his speech. But the character was too unstable and a little too quirky-indie-weird and a bit too unlikeable to make me really give a shit. And his ex was a bitch. I did think people were pretty shitty to him, other than his cop partner, so I did feel a little sorry for him. It looks like the funeral bit was first a short film? That was probably decent as it was the best bit. I can see some people really liking this movie if they buy into the character but it just didn’t quite work for me as a film overall. The ending was good. If you watch it, bear in mind that it’s mostly a drama with some dark humor (I like dark humor). I can me see liking this guy in the right kind of movie, though. He does a good job and is nerdy-cute (Jim Cummings – he’s also the director & writer of the film). It looks like he has done a lot of short films. I can see him doing very well in bigger budget films playing similar characters, but in smaller roles. Such as “quirky best friend” or “quirky neighbor”. As a main character for the whole movie, he’s a bit too much to take. But Cummings is on the right track & I see he has a lot of upcoming projects. – 6/10
– How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – I can’t really review this as, in all honesty, we put it on to watch and then all fucked around on our phones the whole time so I missed a hell of a lot. But, hey – if it was really good I’d have paid more attention. It didn’t even keep the kid’s attention. I do think the Dragon films are probably the best from DreamWorks but I’m just not a DreamWorks fan. I’m a Disney & Pixar snob. I don’t even really like Shrek. I missed out on Abominable this year, though, and the family tell me that will easily be my favorite from DreamWorks as it’s much more my type of thing. Well, damn! I’ll check that out when I can. As for The Hidden World, I’ll give it an average rating since these movies are still better than most the stuff made by DreamWorks. And the ending was cute. The first film is just by far the best of the three. – 6/10
– Oldboy – Wow. Wow. I’ve been meaning to watch this for years as it’s in the IMDb Top 250 & has a very high rating. I fucking hated it. Maybe I’ll try to do a very short review next week when I do a post with all the Top 250 movies I watched this year. I’m giving it an extra half a point, though, for having the audacity to go with THAT horrific twist. Bloody hell. It took some balls to say “Fuck it – let’s do this sick fucking thing!”. And this movie was remade? Did they change that storyline?!? I fucking hope so. – 5/10
– Scrooged – I love this movie. It may be my favorite Christmas movie (although it rotates between my top five, depending on my mood). I’m a big fan of the Dickens story (Well, I’ve not actually read it 😉 ) and I love that there are so many adaptations of it. Scrooged is my favorite of the “alternative” modern adaptations. Murray is hilarious in it, although I’m starting to think he’s an asshole in movies too often. But I guess that’s why he’s so perfect in this role. I love that it’s also heartwarming without being over-the-top saccharine thanks to all the dark humor throughout it. Sometimes all the heartwarming Christmas movies can be a bit too much. Which is why I also love Christmas Vacation… (link below, as I’ve already reviewed that in full). I may prefer Christmas Vacation. Maybe I’ll flip them around. I can’t decide. “Shitter was full!” beats all of Scrooged. – 8.5/10
– Elf – I love this movie too. I think it’s one of the only Christmas movies from recent years to come anywhere near “Christmas classic” status. I still think of it as recent even though it’s going on 16 years old. WTF?! When did that happen?!?! It’s a NEW movie! Fuck. I’m old. I’m so so old. Anyway – Elf rules. Maybe I’ll give it a higher score someday. I just didn’t grow up with it like the others. It’s too NEW. But it’s funny as hell. And it’s adorable. I’ve probably seen at least part of it every Christmas for years now & it always makes me smile. Honestly, it’s as good as my ’80’s Christmas “classics”. I’m just a sucker for those since I was still a teen when those came out. Fuck. I’m so old. Okay, I’ve convinced myself to raise my score half a point to 8. It’s the newest Christmas classic. – 8/10
– Miss Congeniality – Watched both this & Legally Blonde with the kid recently & am loving re-visiting stuff like this with her as she gets older. Really enjoy both films and still love both Witherspoon & Bullock. Unfortunately, both movies haven’t aged as well as I was hoping. But they’re still fun. Silly but fun. We don’t really get these sort of “chick flicks” very often anymore. Where did this genre go? I like these (occasionally). Everything is too damn serious now. The world needs more lighthearted comedy! Before we all die in WWIII. – 6.5/10
– Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery – First, I have to say that I adore Mike Myers. I fully & with no shame admit that Wayne’s World is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s fucking hilarious & doesn’t get enough credit. If I could hang out with two movie characters, it would probably be Wayne & Garth. Myers was always great at creating characters. Wayne is brilliant. And I realize I moaned about Shrek in this same post but Shrek himself is the best thing about Shrek – I just don’t like DreamWorks or the overall Shrek movies but Myers is great as always. Austin Powers is similar in that he’s a great creation but the movies themselves aren’t great. Same for Dr. Evil – a really good character in “just okay” movies. Hell, I even like Fat Bastard! He’s probably not for everyone, though. So, Mike Myers is what really makes the Austin Powers movies enjoyable. Okay, Myers and all the sexual innuendos. But I’ve never loved the Austin Powers movies as much as others seem to. Maybe it doesn’t help to very much NOT be a James Bond fan?? These movies are fun but Wayne’s World is my thing. – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
I finished all of Full Throttle by Joe Hill in December. It’s a collection of short stories and I love his (and his dad Stephen King’s) short story collections. This one was great but Hill’s 20th Century Ghostscollection was my favorite – that one was brilliant. I’ll try to review Full Throttle story by story at some point. – 3.5/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – I loved this!!! I’d never ever seen this 1977 Jim Henson short TV movie. My beloved Jim Henson Muppets in a TV special from my beloved Seventies?! I was pretty much guaranteed to love this. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to see it! It’s on Amazon Prime UK, FYI. It’s mostly Muppets you’ve never seen, although Kermit has a small part. But they’re Henson Muppets in every way and if you love The Muppets, you’ll love this. I highly recommend this if, like me, you never saw it as a kid. – 8.5/10
– Watchmen – Still halfway through watching these. Still can’t decide how I feel, although I’m enjoying watching something that’s far more interesting than most of the shit that gets made now. Will see how I feel after seeing them all and knowing if it has too much of an agenda.
– Parks & Recreation – Wanted a short, lightweight comedy to stick on every once in a while. I’ve watched maybe 4 episodes now? So far, this fits the bill. It’s funny but a bit forgettable. It’s not a show where I’d re-watch any episodes after seeing them. I hear Joy from Inside Out the entire time I’m watching it, though. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I adore that movie.
BLOG PLANS FOR JANUARY
As I said, I’m going to take a break from blogging after posting all my 2019 Top Ten lists. I want to watch far fewer movies at home, more movies in the cinema (I need to make use of my Unlimited card), and read more quality books (main priority for 2020 is to finally read Dune).
I just don’t want to spend much time blogging or tweeting anymore. It’s kind of depressing. Especially Twitter, which is full of angry people moaning and is only good these days for Baby Yoda gifs (which I would happily watch 24/7). But I may still do these monthly roundup posts because my head might explode if I never ever blather on & on about movies anymore. No one at work talks to me and I certainly can’t talk about some of the non-mainstream stuff I watch with boring, normal, real-life people anyway. “Hey, colleagues! How was your weekend? I watched El Topo!”. This is why I have no real-life friends. So thank you for still being here, Internet weirdos! Feel free to talk to me about movies or share Baby Yoda gifs. WWIII may be on the way but it’s okay as we’ve reached the pinnacle of cuteness with Baby Yoda. It’s all downhill from here.
January Movies I Want To See If The World Hasn’t Ended:
– Jojo Rabbit – Seen it. It was just… Okay?
– The Gentlemen – Whatever. But Henry Golding is in it & he’s adorable.
– 1917 – Suppose I should watch this as it’s the most likely Best Picture Oscar contender, right? But I always have to force myself to watch war movies.
– Bombshell – Meh. Again, may watch it for the likely Oscar nominations but I’m not that bothered.
– Bad Boys For Life – May be an okay popcorn movie but I won’t cry if I miss it.
– Waves – Looks depressing?
– Weathering With You – Hell yeah! It’s anime and actually getting some UK cinema showings!!! My ticket is already booked. From the same director who did Your Name.
– The Turning – Oh man, I seriously need to read that The Turn Of The Screw story. Off to the library I go!
– The Lighthouse – Can’t wait to see if this is “indie good” or “indie pretentious bore”.
– Richard Jewell – Interested in the story but will probably wait for Netflix.
– A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood – Finally coming out in the UK. Will check this one out.
– Queen & Slim – Maybe. If a showtime works out, but I bet it’ll disappear from cinemas quickly.
– The Rhythm Section – Looks intriguing but also looks like it could be good or very bad. I was going to read the book last year. Guess I should have.
As we got the final movie in the Star Wars Skywalker Saga in December, let’s celebrate the absolute genius of John Williams. Here’s Rey’s theme, which is my favorite piece from this trilogy.
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams
Music by John Williams
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
I’ve been putting off reviewing this as I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. I did see it at midnight last Wednesday night as we’re a family of Star Wars fans. I think all the negativity online since The Last Jedi ruined my enjoyment a bit plus this is the first time I decided to read all the spoilers beforehand, which is something I always try desperately to avoid. So that’s my own damn fault but, seriously, I hate people who spoil movies online on purpose. I know spoilers don’t bother everyone but it does ruin movies for me. I like to be surprised. My lack of excitement during this one won’t have been helped by the fact that I was watching the story unfold exactly as I’d heard it would. Thanks a lot, Burger King! Shame on me, though. I’ll avoid spoilers again from now on.
I liked The Rise Of Skywalker but am not satisfied with the trilogy as a whole. I’m at the point now where I kind of don’t care about this trilogy existing (and wonder if I’d be happier if it didn’t). For me, it will only ever be the original trilogy that I love. The rest of the movies will never be special to me in the same sort of way, although I did get plenty of enjoyment out of moments in each of them. And Solo deserves more credit than it gets, FYI – that was a fun film.
When The Force Awakenscame out, however, I admit that I did absolutely love it at the time. I thought the new characters were great and I adored seeing my old favorites again. I was high on the fact that Star Wars was back. I hate that the followingtwo movies didn’t live up to the first one and, more than anything, I hate how this trilogy now feels like it was created just to replace beloved old characters with new ones for a new generation. Can a new generation not appreciate the original characters too? As much as I wasn’t really a fan of the prequels, they’ve now actually gone up in my estimation after the sequel trilogy. I never expected that as I far prefer The Force Awakens to any of the prequels. But now that this trilogy has ended, I feel like it has damaged characters that I grew up with & love whereas the prequels didn’tdo them any harm(to the “good guys” that I adore, anyway – I’ve never been a fan of the “baddies”. Screw you, Vader!).
Well, I could talk about my feelings & disappointment forever so I’ll try to focus on this movie specifically now. I do think I need to see it a second time to see if I feel any differently but I’m heartbroken to not feel anywhere near the same level of enjoyment and hope that I felt after a very promising start with The Force Awakens. Hell – I even re-read my The Last Jedi review and my immediate reaction was quite positive. I don’t hate that one the way so many others do. Although The Last Jedi may be my least favorite of the three, it’s almost equal to The Rise Of Skywalker for me as there are certain moments in it that I did really like. So! Here’s what I liked about The Rise Of Skywalker:
– The Droids. The sequels may have somewhat ruined the legacy of my human favorites but at least they didn’t hurt my beloved droids. When people ask who my favorite Star Wars character is, my answer is R2-D2 (followed very closely by Yoda, although I have a feeling that a certain Mandalorian character may end up a contender for my new favorite – but that’s going way off topic). Of course I love Luke, Leia, Han, etc, but nothing beats a cool sci-fi droid for me. We don’t get nearly as much R2-D2 as I’d have liked in this trilogy but I thoroughly enjoyed getting a very funny C-3PO. Loved him in this! I thought they did a very good job playing up to his annoying quirks and making him funny as hell (without him realizing he was being funny as hell). Actually, of all the original characters, I think C-3PO was the only one they managed to improve on instead of lessen or harm or have no effect on (as with R2-D2, who is still the exact same lovable droid and thankfully not harmed by this trilogy). So thank you for not messing with my Droids, J. J. Abrams! Oh, BB-8 is still awesome too and I liked the new addition of D-O. He’s not as cool as BB-8 and the rest but I still really liked him. What can I say? I love a cute droid. D-O reminded me of M-O from WALL-E. (Not surprisingly, WALL-E is an all-time favorite film of mine as well. Robots rule!).
– Lando & Chewbacca. Yeah, I love the original trilogy characters. So sue me. It was great finally seeing Lando, who is still cool as shit, and seeing Chewbacca yet again. I of course wanted to see more of them than we got but, hey, at least we got a decent amount of time with them compared to some of the other original characters. I also don’t feel these two were really harmed by this trilogy, but I do worry about Chewie. Can I be his friend?! I want to make sure he’s surrounded by really good friends forever & ever.
– Babu Frik. This is a new small character and you’ll either love him or hate him. Being a huge fan of Henson Muppets and Yoda and the genius of characters such as Salacious B. Crumb, I of course was a fan of this goofy new addition. If you like Salacious B. Crumb as much as I do, you’re gonna like Babu Frik. If not, too bad! I don’t care. He’s great and feels like he could easily have fit right in with the original trilogy creatures.
– The camaraderie. We see a lot of Rey, Finn & Poe working together in this and I really enjoyed their friendship and lighthearted bickering (we get some fun rapport between Rey & Poe regarding taking care of the Millennium Falcon & BB-8). Speaking of BB-8, Poe’s love for him is adorable. The funny C-3PO moments also come from being a part of this group and I really enjoyed the moments when these characters were together.
I want to focus on the positives about this movie as there’s so much negativity online so I’ll only mention a few things I don’t like, as I already made my feelings clear at the start that I’m disappointed in this trilogy overall. One thing I really don’t like is Kylo Ren as a character and I very much don’t understand the whole Adam Driver obsession so, as he’s a fan favorite, not liking him probably really doesn’t help my enjoyment of these films. I’m also kind of starting to feel the same as others do in finding Rey’s abilities a bit “too much”. She’s too powerful. Too perfect. I still really like her as a character but it’s all way too easy for her. I also didn’t like the story in this one – it felt like a video game story. The main problem, however, is how I feel this sequel trilogy is simply casting our original trilogy favorites aside. This became very clear in The Last Jedi but I don’t think Abrams tried very hard to undo that in this one. It feels a little disrespectful. It doesn’t feel, to me, like these movies were made by true fans of the original trilogy. I didn’t feel that way after The Force Awakens and am upset that it feels that way now that the trilogy is complete. I don’t want any more movies involving these new characters now, even though I do really like Rey, Finn, Poe & BB-8. Based on how this trilogy turned out, I’d now rather have stand alones like Solo and Rogue One. I wasn’t feeling Rogue One at the time but it’s now gone up in my estimation as well as the prequels.
Oh well. I made my feelings clear at the beginning of this review so I obviously have a lot of issues with this trilogy but I don’t want to go into them in much detail as I’m hating all the negativity online. None of these movies are as bad as some people are saying. There’s still lots of great Star Wars moments in each of them. I just really wanted to love this sequel trilogy but, at the moment, I can’t say that I do. However, I’ll try to keep an open mind and maybe watch The Rise Of Skywalker again to see if I feel any differently. I hope so. But I’ll always see it as a separate thing from the original trilogy. Maybe this is just one alternate reality for our original trilogy characters…