Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m really hoping that 2023 is going to be a much better year than 2022. I kept on top of my Letterboxd reviews so here are all the reviews of everything I watched in December. There are a lot as I was trying to finish watching the 2022 releases that are on services but there are still loads more that I’ve missed…
MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):
– Millennium Actress – Thoroughly enjoyed this story of a legendary film actress discussing her life with two documentary filmmakers. Always like films exploring the lives of those involved in filmmaking & loved how her life story was told through her film roles. This is my third & I think probably now my favorite Satoshi Kon film. I’d highly recommend this as well as his films Tokyo Godfathers& the trippy Paprika. Will definitely be checking out Perfect Blue at some point too… – 8/10
– Only Yesterday – Had to get at least one Studio Ghibli movie watched before the end of this year. I adore Ghibli but am running out of ones to watch. Think I only have five left! What will I do after that?! (I’ve ranked all I’ve seen here)
This one, of course, isn’t up there with the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis but is still a great film worthy of the studio. It’s a very grownup story and follows a young woman as her trip to the countryside brings back strong memories from when she was a fifth grade schoolgirl. I thought it portrayed very well how strong nostalgia can be and how our experiences while young can have such a strong influence on who we become as adults. Something that can seem insignificant to an adult may be something that a child coming of age will never forget. Enjoyed the scenes when she was a child the most and they gave me my own happy & sad memories from when I was that same age. Especially liked how the boys behaved & how awkward the boys & girls were around each other. The 1966 Japanese schoolkids in this behaved exactly the same as my American classmates did in the mid-80s, which put a smile on my face.
Another great film from Studio Ghibli & one of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2022. – 8/10
– Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.
Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.
Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years. – 7.5/10
– The Banshees Of Inisherin – Tried to end the year on a good 2022 film as I’ve been very disappointed with most of the movies released this year. I can’t say this lived up to my expectations based on the rave reviews but I did like it. It might just squeak into my top ten for the year.
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson & Kerry Condon are all very good in this & I can see them all being nominated for Oscars. The acting nominations would be well deserved. The film itself didn’t quite live up to the performances for me but I did like the story and the beautiful setting and that adorable donkey. I never thought I’d want a little donkey to live in my house & keep me company but I totally want that now.
I’m adding my review now as the year is over & I just want to get this posted but I’ve not fully sorted out my feelings on this movie yet. I wanted to like it more but it’s one I think could grow on me. I liked the dark humor & the characters & not knowing where the story was going to end up. Finally something unpredictable in 2022! But it’s also a slow film & not one I think I’d watch again even though I sometimes love a depressing film. It’s just so deeply sad & I felt awful for Farrell‘s character and I’m not sure I’d want to watch him go through all that again. I’ve been dumped by friends too. It sucks. I need a donkey.
I think In Bruges is still Martin McDonagh’s best and seeing this made me really want to rewatch that. Think this one may be just behind Three Billboards for me (they’re close) but I definitely preferred this to Seven Psychopaths. I’ll think about it a bit more. I think this may go up in my estimation but, man, it made me sad. – 7.5/10
– After Yang – Was looking forward to this as I really loved Kogonada‘s film Columbus. This one isn’t as good but I still liked it as I always love slow, thinky sci-fi and never tire of the exploration of life, death & what makes us human even though that’s been done to death in this genre. After Yang doesn’t really give us anything new on those themes but, like Columbus, it’s lovely to look at & I appreciated the score from the brilliant Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m still working on my year-end movie rankings but this will rank highly for me as it’s right up my alley. I’m sure many would find this film far too slow with very little happening but I would definitely watch any further films from Kogonada based on what I’ve seen so far. – 7.5/10
– The Lodge – Really liked this slow burn psychological horror (but it’s exactly the type of thing I always enjoy). Good story and even better characters & performances. Really appreciated that the younger characters, played by Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh, felt very real especially in their grief. Riley Keough was also great as the new fiancée the kids don’t trust. And I always love a slightly creepy doll or dollhouse. – 7/10
– Men – I was interested in seeing “Alex Garland does body horror” as I’ve really liked his work and love a good old school body horror. I liked this for the most part but can see why some hated it. I loved the overall look, especially of the green forest outside that lovely English village that looks nothing like where I live (I must have moved to the wrong part of England). And the tunnel scene was a great bit of cinema. Jessie Buckley & Rory Kinnear give good performances & I liked the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The story was also fine but all the symbolism & the film being so extremely blatant in making its point was a bit much. Then, finally, came the batshit crazy Cronenbergian ending I’d been waiting for and I guess I wasn’t disappointed as it was what I expected. I found it hilarious. Not sure if it was intentionally funny as I can’t say I laughed at any Cronenberg films but, either way, I was entertained.
Not sure what to rate this as I think it’s very flawed & weak in comparison to Garland’s other work. I think he was just trying too hard with this one. But I’m also extremely sick of all the bland & forgettable films which seem to be the majority of what’s getting pumped out these days. I’ll always take a memorable bad film over an okay boring film so at least I can say that I appreciate Men for being an unforgettable experience. It’s probably going to rank pretty highly on my year end 2022 list despite me finding it silly & pretentious & it’s unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. But I don’t need to watch it again since it’s going to stay with me more than most everything else released in 2022. – 7/10
– Scream(2022) – Thought this was one of the better recent horror, um, reboots/sequels/reimaginings/requels?? But maybe my standards are just very low as I think the majority are utter shit. It might help that, while I think the first Scream is great & a horror classic, I now don’t have much memory of any of its sequels & overall just never loved Scream to the same degree as A Nightmare On Elm Street (I’m old). So I didn’t mind seeing another Scream film setting up new characters & enjoyed this much more than other recent reboots or whatever-the-hell-they-are such as Halloween & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The killer reveal wasn’t at all surprising & the movie is pretty much just a rehash of the original Scream film but does it really matter? The new characters were fine & it will probably get a new generation into this series. I’ll certainly watch the next one but it would be great if it tried to do something a little less predictable.
And I agree with the Jenna Ortega character’s horror movie taste. I love The Babadook too.– 7/10
– Studio 666 – This looked like it would be bad bad instead of good bad so I had low expectations even though I love Dave Grohl & heavy metal & horror comedies. This movie was a blast. It’s not GREAT bad, like Road House, but it’s pure cheesy horror comedy fun. The acting was gloriously atrocious and you could tell that these guys must have had so many laughs while making this. It was also great seeing Taylor Hawkins (RIP) goofing off with Dave once again. A couple of the kills were hilariously inventive and I loved the movie band Dream Widow’s music (recorded by Grohl as a whole metal album because there’s nothing that dude can’t do). – 7/10
– Troll – This film follows every monster movie cliché imaginable… Which is EXACTLY what I want from a monster movie. It also has really likeable characters, funny nerds, a cute military guy and, most importantly, Norwegians & a massive troll. Therefore, I enjoyed it much more than most current Hollywood monster movies. – 7/10
– Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Enjoyed this but Knives Out was far superior so I did find it disappointing. It felt like it was trying too hard to be “wacky” and was just a bit too silly for me. The mystery also felt like an afterthought as the focus was more on how many big name stars they could get to play caricatures. This is sounding way more negative than it should… Glass Onion was fine. It was fun. It was just a little too goofy. I’d happily watch another Knives Out Mystery, though. I just want the next one to be more like the first film. – 6.5/10
– Marry Me – I liked this fine. Was better than I was expecting considering I didn’t even know it existed. Why have romcoms like this completely disappeared from cinemas? Not my favorite genre but I do miss these kind of movies from when they were mainstream & had big stars like in this one. Jennifer Lopez is good as a famous pop star (okay, not much of a stretch) who decides to marry random dude Owen Wilson in the audience at one of her concerts. The relationship is believable enough and they have surprisingly decent chemistry even though Lopez is entirely out of Wilson’s league. Still like Maid In Manhattan more but this was an enjoyably predictable romcom that I shouldn’t have discovered buried on one of my streaming services. – 6.5/10
– A Christmas Story Christmas – Being an American of a certain age, A Christmas Story is a Christmas Classic to me. I still clearly remember going to see it in the cinema when it was released & remember how much my dad & the audience were loving it. Was a little heartbroken when I moved to the U.K. and found that no one here likes it or even knows of it (my hubby hates it). So I was kind of excited to see a sequel all these years later but of course also very nervous as it had the potential to go very wrong.
I’d say it hasn’t done any damage to the original but, as with most of these sort of sequels, it also didn’t feel necessary. It was nice seeing so many of the original cast again in the same roles. Julie Hagerty replacing Melinda Dillon threw me out of things a bit, though. She was fine – I just hate different actors playing the same character. I had enough of that in American soap operas. The fan service scenes, and there were a lot, were fine by me. It’s a Christmas favorite & people just want to see the same thing again. To do anything too different from the original is too much of a risk with something like this so they played it very safe. It makes it a little boring, though. It’s pleasant & heartwarming & of course Christmassy but I’d feel no need to watch it again. I’ll stick with rewatching the original if I want to get into the Christmas spirit. – 6.5/10
– Good Luck To You, Leo Grande – I wish Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually could have had a Leo Grande. Thompson & Daryl McCormack are great together in this and he’s so damn handsome. A pleasurable film. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. – 7/10
– Barbarian – Damn. Another big 2022 disappointment. This was an odd one. I wanted to love it as I liked the look of that cool red poster, it sounded like it would be the weird & unpredictable sort of horror I love, and Bill Skarsgård is my new favorite Skarsgård. The film started out great. It was unsettling & I was intrigued as to what might be going on plus Georgina Campbell & Bill Skarsgård were both really good in this. I liked it a lot & was really digging its vibe. And then Justin Long’s annoying character showed up & the entire thing went completely off the rails until that absolute train wreck of an ending.
I’m struggling with what to rate this one as I’m honestly not sure if I absolutely hated this movie or if I actually kind of liked it for indeed being slightly weird & unpredictable. I’m always complaining that too many horror movies are boring & unoriginal so I have to give this one credit for being a bit different. But it really feels like two or three movies spliced up & stuck together and I so wish the whole film had managed to live up to its start. At the very least, I’ll say I’d certainly watch another movie from Zach Cregger as I’d be interested to see what else he has to offer. – 6/10
– Shiva Baby – Another movie that didn’t live up to its cool poster. I do like dark comedy revolving around awkward social situations as I can always relate to being socially awkward so I enjoyed some of that here & really liked the parents. But I do struggle with characters who are just a little too unlikeable & self-absorbed so that was a bit frustrating. Rachel Sennott was very good in this, though – I’d be interested in seeing her in another role. I thought the film was well acted, it portrayed the pressure so often put on us by friends & family accurately, and it had an interesting score from what I can remember. It’s the type of film I can say I appreciated more than actually enjoyed. A “worth a one-time watch” movie for me. – 6.5/10
– Your Christmas Or Mine? – Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many Christmas romance movies. This one was cute enough, with a young couple deciding last minute to each go to the other person’s house for Christmas & then getting stranded & having to spend it with people they’d not yet met. Hilarity ensues! The girl’s family were really likeable & the story was extremely predictable but that’s what you want from a Christmas romcom, right? Worth watching once to get into the Christmas spirit but not one I’d add to my list of movies to watch every December.– 6/10
– Uncharted – An inoffensive & forgettable Indiana Jones crossed with The Goonies. But, you know, not nearly as good or as enjoyable as either of those. It passed the time. I saw it about a week ago & I’m already forgetting what happened in it besides some really dodgy OTT action shit involving planes & flying ships. – 6/10
– My Father’s Dragon – This was fine. It’s very “cute” and aimed quite young, which is a shame as it won’t appeal to all ages as much. I found the story a bit messy. The dragon was funny but in that borderline annoying kind of way (reminded me of Olaf from Frozen). Didn’t realize until finishing that it was a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some nice animation but it’s not in the same league as others from the studio such as The Secret Of Kells & Wolfwalkers. – 6/10
– The Bad Guys – Shouldn’t say much about this as I had it on while wrapping some gifts so admit I wasn’t paying much attention. It seemed like a decent enough heist movie with an extremely predictable story & villain but was probably fun for kids while also being fairly entertaining for their parents. Can’t say it made me want to stop what I was doing to fully watch it or to bother rewatching it at any point. I liked the snake dressed like he was in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, though. – 6/10
– About Fate – A romcom as predictable as expected but the setup at the start of the movie was cute enough. The characters had okay chemistry but the Emma Roberts character was too flaky for me to like and everyone kept making annoyingly bad decisions. There’s also a hateful influencer but at least she’s seen as the shallow baddie. The coat story was nice, though. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10
– Rosaline – I’ve clearly been trying to watch what I can of 2022 releases on services before this year ends. This was fine but yet another film I only watched as it’s a 2022 film on services & I’m not going to the cinema anymore to see what I most want to see. I’ve watched way too many movies that I wouldn’t have even bothered watching in the cinema. Depressing.
I appreciated the story in this, though. At least it felt original, which I can’t say of many current films. But I found most the characters slightly annoying including Kaitlyn Dever’s, who was fine in the role, but I’m not really a fan of any of her work that I’ve seen. To be fair, as I was watching this to “cross it off a list” at the last minute before the New Year, I probably didn’t give it much of a chance & wasn’t giving it my full attention. I just wish I could’ve seen more of the movies I really wanted to see in 2022. – 5.5/10
– The Northman – Tweeted five minutes into watching this thing that “I don’t have the patience for this shit”. And now I don’t have the patience for this review. That’s three Robert Eggers films I’ve suffered through now & I still can’t figure out what everyone sees in them. But I’ve decided that Bill Skarsgård is my favorite Skarsgård. – 5/10
– Zola – Knew this was based on a Twitter thread so figured it must be a fascinating story to have been made into a movie. I was bored & the characters were annoying as hell. I’ve read many Twitter threads that were far more interesting than this story. It felt like this wanted to be a “smart” Spring Breakers (which I enjoyed for some bizarre reason) but this just felt even more shallow & pointless. To sound less negative, I’ll say that Taylour Paige & Riley Keough were good in the roles. But I couldn’t wait for the film to end. And then it didn’t even give us a proper ending anyway… – 5/10
– White Noise – I’ve not logged this film on Letterboxd as I didn’t watch it but it’s worth a mention here. I’ll watch any old shit & in my desperation to see more 2022 releases that I can watch at home, I put this on despite already knowing I tend to hate Noah Baumbach films. Think I managed maybe fifteen minutes? Good Lord, this thing was fucking unwatchable. Absolute torture. It’s not often that I completely give up on a movie so it’s getting the first ever Cinema Parrot Disco zero rating – 0/10
Shorts & Specials Watched In December:
– Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery – This was pretty dumb.
– Rewatched some of my usual Christmas favorites:Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol & Home Alone.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN DECEMBER
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Alice In Borderland: S2– I complained a bit about season 1 of this as, while it started out very strong, I didn’t like the final few episodes when the focus was no longer on the games & they spent far too long on unimportant & annoying characters. But this show really picked up again in season two & I ended up liking this entire show a lot. In fact, we’ve started rewatching it again from the start as it’s the kind of story where, once you get the full explanation (which you luckily DO), it’s good to rewatch from the start with a new perspective. Good stuff. Glad season two got back to the games, some of which were really cool, andback to characters we actually care about.Highly recommend if you liked Squid Game (but that one is still superior).
– The White Lotus: S2 E6-7 – Really enjoyed both seasons of this. I think the first season was a bit better but this one was still good too & the characters were great. Loved Jennifer Coolidge in both of these. Hope we get another season…
– Wednesday: S1 E2-8– Liked this show just fine. Daughter was very into it. I’d watch more if they did another season. I saw way too much of Jenna Ortega in December, though.
– Cabinet Of Curiosities: S1 E1-2 – First two episodes were okay but I wasn’t blown away. Will watch the rest when I get time.
– It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: S1 E4-5 – Still working my way through this. Really like the two brothers but the girl is such an odd character.
– The Peripheral: S1 E1 – Forgot I’d watched this. I’m intrigued but hope it gets better?
– I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Okay, I read another YA book but I don’t care – I like them. And I really liked this one & thought it was one of the better YA books I’ve read in quite a while. The twins were great & complex characters and I like how the story was told from their perspectives at different points in their lives. Good stuff. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.” – 4/5
I’m currently halfway through Fairy Tale by Stephen King & really enjoying it.
Blog Plans For The Coming Month:
Will try to post all my year end ranked lists this week if I have the energy. Very disappointing year for new movies.
I feel like I should end this post with something from the Studio 666 band Dream Widow. Happy New Year!
Oops. Guess I better post this before the end of the year. And I’ll try to finish the year by posting what I watched in December but probably gonna need a break after that. 🙂
MOVIES WATCHED IN NOVEMBER (ranked best to worst):
– Drifting Home – Really enjoyed this. It’s a pretty typical anime with young characters who can be overly dramatic but I really liked the creative story & themes of memory, loss, and friendship. Starts out a little slow but really gets going once they start “drifting” away and there was some lovely animation. One of my favorite 2022 releases that I’ve seen. – 7.5/10
– Anomalisa – I appreciate most of Charlie Kaufman’s work but can’t say I’ve ever loved any of it. Anomalisa really worked for me, though. I’m not sure why. Think I could relate to the film’s main character in some ways & I liked Lisa (am also a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh so that helped too). Am always happy to see a film that feels unique & I really liked the story. Glad I finally gave this one a chance.
Oh – I also liked seeing “Starburns Industries” as the production company which made me go “Ha! Like Star-Burns in Community!” then finding out later that was actually the case as it was co-founded by Community creator Dan Harmon & Star-Burns himself Dino Stamatopoulos. So, hey – I like the Community link because that show rules. – 8/10
– Glengarry Glen Ross – ACTORS ACTING.
I didn’t know just how many big names were in this but, when I looked it up, it was seeing Jack Lemmon’s name that made me hit the Play button. Wow, he was great. Everyone in this was clearly trying for an Oscar nomination so I was very surprised to see that only Al Pacino was nominated just for being, well, Al Pacino yet again. They all deserve recognition for these roles but I thought Lemmon, Baldwin & Pacino (even though he’s just being Pacino) especially stood out.
If you like plays & intense ACTING from some all-time great actors, this is the film for you. It’s not really the type of film for me & not one I’d rewatch but I’ve rated it highly for the performances & the script & for Jack Lemmon. Well worth watching just to see these guys in action. – 7.5/10
– Relic – This was good. Reminded me a lot of another recent(ish) Australian horror The Babadook, which I absolutely loved & was also a very clever allegory (or is it a metaphor?! I always confuse those!). This is the type of “horror” I like. Found it quite heartbreaking. Need more horror films like this one. – 7/10
– My Summer Of Love – Enjoyed this English countryside drama with strong performances from Natalie Press as a working class girl who falls for rich girl Emily Blunt in her debut film role (and naked). Paddy Considine is also good as the born-again Christian brother of Press. Liked the relationship & how the film ended. From the director of Cold War. Check it out on BBC iPlayer. – 7/10
– Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – This was fun. Liked that it was a parody of a biography, which is the only thing that would make sense for a Weird Al movie. Especially liked the stuff with Madonna & some fun cameos. It’s not as good as his music videos, though, and certainly not in the same league as something like This Is Spinal Tap. But certainly worth a watch for Weird Al fans. – 6.5/10
– My Policeman – This was fine. I liked the story (I always love years of yearning) but the complete lack of chemistry between all the characters meant that the story didn’t have the emotional impact that I’m sure it probably had in the book. Everyone mentions Harry Styles but I was equally unimpressed with most of the performances except for maybe David Dawson’s. An okay film but may have been better with different leads. – 6.5/10
– The Wonder – Good atmosphere & could have used a lot more of the eerie music which I quite liked. Not gonna lie, though: “Florence Pugh” & “Period Drama” are two things that aren’t going to get me excited about watching a movie. Not my type of thing at all but this was an intriguing story, the young girl was good, and I liked the conclusion. Hated how they started & finished the film, though. Totally threw me out of the movie. – 6.5/10
– See How They Run – This movie, as most 2022 streaming releases, was okay. But that’s the problem… I’m so bored with okay movies. At least the ones I really hate tend to be more memorable. I thought Sam Rockwell & Saoirse Ronan worked really well together, though, which made this somewhat dull mystery far more watchable than it would have been without them. There’s some fun humor too. Certainly not a bad film but I know I’ll forget it even exists in a year. – 6.5/10
– Disenchanted – Wow, this was terrible. I shouldn’t “review” it as I fell asleep & missed a big chunk in the middle but I refuse to rewatch it. I saw enough to know I don’t want it to ruin the fun & original first film so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist just like I do with the Disney live-action remakes. Still love Amy Adams, though. She’s still lovely & did what she could with this absolute mess. – 5/10
Movies Rewatched In November:
– Father Of The Bride – Watched this with the family. Been many years since I last saw this one. I’d say it’s actually held up better than some of the early ‘90s rom-coms. We could use more good father/daughter family films. This is sweet without being overly saccharine. The only annoying bit was when she freaked out over a blender. What?! I don’t remember us being offended by trivial things back in 1991. Also… Steve Martin’s family are meant to be “middle class” compared to the fiancé’s family but live in a big gorgeous house in a lovely neighborhood and can afford a ridiculously expensive wedding. Cry me a river! My daughter loved Martin Short, though. Think she’s a fan since seeing Martin & Short together in Only Murders In The Building. His character is fun & does threaten to steal the whole show in this film. – 7/10
Shorts Watched In November:
– Zen – Grogu & Dust Bunnies – Studio Ghibli & Grogu?! Two of my favorite things ever?!? My heart just about exploded when I watched this. Now if they could add in Totoro, R2-D2, WALL-E & Snoopy I’d need no new media to ever be made again. Loved this. So adorable & peaceful. And Ludwig Göransson‘s score is brilliant (as always). Works beautifully with the Ghibli style.
– The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special – This was…. Not great. Very cheesy. But did like seeing more of Drax & Mantis together.
– Minions & More – Yeah, I like the minions. I don’t care. I think they’re funny.
– The Wonderful Autumn Of Mickey Mouse – Bit of an odd one… Wasn’t really a fan. Give me old school Mickey Mouse.
– Zootopia Shorts – Meh. Not big on the movie but these shorts were fine (except that dumb Real Housewives one because god I can’t stand that type of shit…)
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN NOVEMBER
Been watching quite a bit of TV. Which is fine but it’s cutting into movie-time. 🙂
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The White Lotus: S2 E1-5 – Really liked the first series & feel the same about this one. Good characters & I always like a murder mystery where you don’t know who ends up being the victim. But, mainly, it’s all about Jennifer Coolidge. Love her. Best thing about The White Lotus.
– Wednesday: S1 E1 – Think we’d only seen one episode in November but now seen through episode 5. Enjoying the story and the characters are growing on me. Teen daughter seems to love it so that makes me happy.
– Andor: S1 E9-12 – Ended up thinking this was a really good series overall after a few episodes I wasn’t feeling so much. All the prison stuff & the funeral were fantastic. A very strong couple of episodes at the end of this series.
– House Of The Dragon: S1 E8-10 – Was gonna write more about this now I’m finished but can’t be arsed. 🙂 It’s fine but definitely inferior to Game Of Thrones. Much better character development in Thrones. I’ll again say I far preferred the younger Rhaenyra. And the incest is just fucking nuts in this one. Game Of Thrones was bad enough with that. Ew.
Also been rewatching the pilots of various old ’70s & ’80s shows on YouTube for the nostalgia. Never see this stuff re-run in the U.K. Very much missing the sitcoms of my youth. Really enjoyed rewatching the pilots of It’s Your Move, The Facts Of Life, Benson & Taxi.
– Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – Ended up really enjoying this trilogy (review of first book here and second book here). It’s one of those made much better by turning the story into a trilogy & really getting to know the character of Gwendy. I liked how they went all out in the final book. I mean, she manages to get herself up into space in order to try to finally rid the planet of the dangerous button box. That could’ve turned out ridiculous but I thought it worked well & I always love a story set in space. Also enjoyed King having fun with the rich asshole character who is SO obviously modelled on Tr*mp. – 3.5/5
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Gonna try to catch up on watching as many 2022 films as I can before the year ends. Man, 2022 has been another shit year for movies! Massively disappointing. As far as what’s made it to streaming, at least. Hoping some of what I missed in cinemas was good.
As I adored Ghibli Grogu & Ludwig Göransson‘s score, I need to end with a clip of that music:
Happy September. September?! Holy shit – when did that happen????
Here’s all I watched & read in August, spent mostly in bed recuperating after a hospital stay. So I was allowed to watch a lot of stuff (what else could I do??). 🙂
MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):
– Man On Fire – I reviewed this in full at the link. I decided to finally watch it after seeing a thread on Twitter of movies with very different audience & critic ratings (audiences loved it & critics hated it). I really enjoyed it. No, it’s not some good “Oscar worthy” film but it’s a very enjoyable revenge thriller. And it may be predictable but the friendship between Denzel Washington’s & Dakota Fanning’s characters was fantastic & they worked so well together. Plus Denzel is always absolutely perfect in this type of role. Don’t listen to the critics! They need to learn to just enjoy movies sometimes. – 7/10
– Fantastic Planet(French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta) – Well, this was bizarre!! I won’t say much about it here as I reviewed it in full at the link. This is the strange sort of shit I’m always searching for as I get so bored with mainstream movies since I watch way too many. I’m not sure what the hell was going on but I liked it. It had surreal artwork & a trippy, groovy score so was my type of thing. It’s on the Roku Channel in the U.K. if you’re interested. Here’s the plot synopsis for this animated allegorical tale (from IMDb): “On a faraway planet where blue giants rule, oppressed humanoids rebel against their machine-like leaders.” And I’ll give you one more image below to give you an idea of the animation style… – 7/10
– Once Upon A Time In America – Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list. I reviewed it in the full at the link so luckily don’t again have to say I didn’t love this film. Oops – Just said it! But I’m not a big gangster film fan & everyone was too hateful. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Leone’s Westerns but there’s no denying that this was still a good film even if I didn’t love it. – 7.5/10
– Nomadland – And I watched this one while in the hospital as part of my Best Picture Project. Not gonna lie: It’s good but a bit boring. I’m gonna be real! Yes, I’ve ranked Man On Fire above this. Yes, Nomadland is certainly a better film than Man On Fire. But there are no butt bombs in this! I think it’s a deserving Best Picture Winner compared to the other nominees this year but, overall, it’s far from the best winner in the history of the Oscars.
I found the “houseless” lifestyle portrayed in this fascinating and guess I never exactly realized that there are people who live that way (but I’m a bit sheltered). I know there were real-life nomads playing characters in this & they were all very good. Frances McDormand, as always, was also very good as was David Strathairn. It’s not a film I can fault in any way & I thought they did a good job of portraying McDormand’s character’s heartbreak over the loss of her husband as well as her entire town & way of life. Yes, it’s a good film & deserves a higher rating. It’s just one of those movies that I feel I’ve seen once & have no need to see again. I miss having Oscar winning movies that I truly loved & enjoyed. – 7/10
– Thrashin’ – Oh how I love finding ’80s movies that I somehow never saw at the time! I enjoyed this. Yes, it’s cheesy. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.” It stars Josh Brolin as the main character with one of the two assholes from Weird Science (Robert Rusler) as his punk rock skateboarding rival. It also had one of the Lost Boys vampires, Sherilyn Fenn, and of course Tony Hawk with a cameo but it must have been very small because I didn’t notice him. Oh!!! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in this performing at some club or whatever. So that was cool – It made it feel a little more credible as this sort of California scene makes me think of the Chili Peppers. Romance & skateboarding rivalry in ’80s California. What more can you ask for from a movie?! I love the ’80s. I don’t care. I enjoyed this. (Kind of feel like giving it a higher rating but then it would be the same as what I gave a Best Picture Oscar winner….). – 7/10
– Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part One: 1994, Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – I reviewed this trilogy at the link so I’ll just say it was fun but certainly not perfect. It had a good soundtrack (especially 1978) & I’d say the overall story that runs through all three films does come together pretty well. Oh, it’s also super gory so don’t be fooled by the R.L. Stine name! These are full-on slashers. I’d watch more if they make more. The trilogy was clearly made by lovers of old school slashers & they did a decent enough job of trying to be like those. – Part One & Two: 6.5/10, Part Three: 6/10
– Cruella – Also reviewed this at the link so I don’t have to bitch about it again here. Mainly, I was mostly annoyed that it didn’t totally suck like I was expecting. Okay – the story itself was stupid as shit & completely pointless. But, damn – it had some fun outfits and an absolutely kick ass soundtrack. Why did they have to use such good music in a stupid Disney live-action thing?! Ugh! I loved hearing so many good songs but, man, those songs deserve to be in far better films. – 6.5/10
– The Goldfinch – First of all, I read this book and it felt like it took me FOREVER because it was so damn long (seriously – I think it took me about a year to read). It’s a long book and spends a very long time developing the characters and spans many years, so there was no way a 2 1/2 hour movie was going to do it justice. As much as I hate a mini series & dragging a story out for TV, I think this probably should’ve been a mini series instead. However, I thought the film did a surprisingly good job squeezing in so much of the story. It mainly skipped over the time the main character spends as a boy in Las Vegas which, to be fair, dragged on for way too long in the book anyway. The only thing that was a shame was that it meant cutting out quite a bit of the Boris character, who was possibly the best thing about the book (besides wondering what would happen with the painting).
I think the movie kind of made me further appreciate the book as it is actually a decent story. So I’m giving this a decent rating as the movie was far better than I was expecting. However, if you’ve not read the book, I think the movie would probably be difficult to follow as they really do gloss over stuff. I have a feeling that those who liked this movie did read the book first. But I’d only recommend the book if you like reading epic stories with fairly unlikeable characters. Not gonna lie – the book was a real slog to read. Maybe it’s why I quite liked the movie… I don’t know. It’s a hard one to recommend! I can understand why it got poor reviews but it’s a pretty damn good adaptation. I liked it. – 7/10
– Wonder Woman 1984 – Was glad to finally see this without extra cost but had extremely low expectations due to terrible reviews. Well, it’s not that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as its IMDb rating (5.4/10). Okay, it’s also not very good but I didn’t hate it. I thought the first Wonder Woman was quite good so it’s a shame this didn’t live up to it. I think Wonder Woman herself was perfectly fine in this, so they didn’t ruin the character, and the story wasn’t awful. I think the main two problems were 1. The movie was too damn long and 2. The villains were rubbish. Kristen Wiig’s wasn’t quite so bad & they did a decent job developing her character and letting us see her rise & fall. Pedro Pascal was terrible, however. I mean the character as well as the acting (sorry, I don’t think he’s very good despite loving The Mandalorian – that show would be just as good with a different actor). Oh – I also don’t think they did a very good job of making this look like it was set in 1984 just by throwing a few ugly outfits on people and having Chris Pine give a fashion show. And where was all the ’80s music?! Disappointing, as I love the ’80s. Meh. Whatever. There are far better superhero movies but also worse ones. I’m bored with them all. This one will just be very forgettable. – 6/10
– Wish Dragon – This was fine. I don’t have a lot to say about this animated film other than that it was better than a lot of the stuff that slightly bigger studios such as DreamWorks put out. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon who shows him the magic of possibilities.” I liked the animation, the characters were likeable, and the dragon was fun (even though he was a bit too similar to Aladdin’s Genie). It’s also not quite as “kiddie” as it looks. It’s certainly appropriate for very young kids but I’d say preteens would be perfectly happy watching this too (the main boy & girl are 19 in this). Decent film for one that I believe went straight to Netflix? – 6.5/10
– Bliss – I was really looking forward to seeing this as I really liked Mike Cahill’s Another Earth & especially I Origins. This one is unfortunately not nearly as good. I was intrigued by the concept & did like the story. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “A mind-bending love story following Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation.” It started out okay but the story got messy & it just didn’t work as well as his other films. The biggest problem was that it felt completely miscast. Owen Wilson & Salma Hayek were okay but just didn’t really work together. They’re also too famous – This would have been better with lesser known actors. Too bad Cahill didn’t use his usual favorite, Brit Marling. She’d have been good. Oh well – I did still like the story so it was worth a watch but I’d highly recommend his other films first. – 6/10
– Black Christmas (2019) – Er. Um. UGH. Okay… This movie was mostly pretty damn terrible but for some reason I kind of liked it? At least at the beginning – that all went out the window at the very end. Holy hell! What a pile of shit ending!!! First of all: Yes, I saw the original but it was many many years ago so I should probably rewatch it. So I won’t be comparing them as I don’t remember that one well enough. I just wish Blumhouse would stop rebooting or remaking (or whatever you want to call it) old horror films. Well, that’s plenty of studios, actually. And these newer films are sometimes so different than the originals that I don’t understand why they use the same name. No, I lie – they use the same name because they’re more likely to make money from a known name. Pisses me off. Honestly, they could’ve given this one a completely different name from the original as I don’t think they’re very similar beyond the setting.
So. They kind of had a good idea here but just did such an awful job of cramming the agenda into this film. Spoiler: It’s basically about the rape culture at universities. Which is an important and serious topic not really suited for this seriously stupid horror movie. To be fair, it maybe could have worked if the film had treated the topic more seriously and if the ending hadn’t been laughable. It’s a shame as a well written film on this topic could’ve turned out well. Maybe a more serious type of horror such as Midsommar? Hell, that’s basically a toxic-male-hating film too about slightly inattentive boyfriends, right?
I did really like Imogen Poots in this so luckily the main character was fine. I like her in most things but I mostly think I just love that name. POOTS! Imagine having to grow up with the name Poots!! Her main SJW best friend (sorry to use that phrase but it’s the whole point of that character) was okay but very quickly gets on your nerves as you’d expect. I did kind of like the one friend who was really dumb (she was also good in The White Lotus). And one other thing I did really like in this movie was their song. That was a good scene. I like seeing rapists named & shamed. So the movie started out well…
While I do think this movie ended up being dreadful thanks to its ridiculously over-the-top ending, I think it has been unfairly rated way too low on IMDb. 3.4/10?! Okay, that will be those who see it as having a man-hating agenda. I suppose it does but I think it could have gotten away with it & done a better job of making its point if the ending wasn’t SO in-your-face about, um, toxic masculinity. Dammit! This movie made me use the phrases SJW & toxic masculinity. Phrases I steer WELL clear of on Twitter! And I’ve written waaaaay more than I wanted to about a pretty bad horror movie. I just wish it had done a better job of making its point in a more subtle fashion. Cramming your beliefs down viewers’ throats never works, even when viewers agree with what you’re trying to say (as I do). – 5.5/10
– The Big Year – This was fine? A very safe & inoffensive movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It was based on the 2004 nonfiction book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. The book followed three men on a quest for a Big Year – a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America (north of Mexico) in a calendar year.” So it’s an intriguing story. I had no idea this was a real thing that people do?! Of course the characters themselves are fictional (Owen Wilson is especially over-the-top in his bird obsession) but it’s still interesting that people do this in real life. As I said, it’s just a very safe film. Pleasant. The kind of thing you can have on in the background while visiting with family on a Sunday afternoon. So… somewhat forgettable but was a nice watch & I always love Jack Black. Steve Martin was also good but Black was the best character & he was very understated compared to his usual sort of crazy antics. – 6/10
– Over Her Dead Body – This sucked. Cliché & predictable every step of the way. The story is about a controlling woman (Eva Longoria) who dies on her wedding day (you’ll see the obvious death coming a mile away). She then haunts the first woman who shows an interest in her husband-to-have-been about a year later & tries to keep them apart. I 100% watched this because I love Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t?! A controlling dead bitch wouldn’t keep me away from him either! But, of course, she sees the error of her ways and that she needs to let him move on with his life. Duh. I’d have given a spoiler warning there but it’s not a spoiler when you already know the stupid ending from the very start. Whatever – it’s a dumb romcom & not trying to win Oscars or something. So I’ll be nice with my rating since Paul Rudd was of course adorable in this. – 5/10
– Rear Window – Finally convinced my daughter to watch her first Alfred Hitchcock film! 🙂 And I started her on my favorite. I’ve always loved Rear Window & how we get a glimpse of various peoples’ lives through their windows. I was always most concerned about Miss Lonelyhearts & loved the newlywed couple who kept their blinds closed for days. Plus James Stewart is always great & Grace Kelly is gorgeous & classy in all her fancy outfits. I know I always wear a dress & pearls around the house like in the above photo! Such a fun & stylish film. Trying to convince the kid to watch The Birds next. Let’s have another look at Grace Kelly… – 9.5/10
– The Lost Boys – YES! Adore this movie. And, yes, it’s my favorite vampire movie. Of course – I was a young teenager when it came out & had a crush on The Two Coreys. I don’t know what else to say about it but you’ll either love this lightweight teen horror comedy or you won’t. The characters are fun, everyone is young & pretty & super cool, and it has great quotables. Death by stereo! Love it. Oh, and it has that greased-up saxophone player. Hubba hubba. Maggots, Michael! You’re eating maggots! –9/10
– Wreck-It Ralph – I liked this one a lot the first time I saw it but it grew on me more & more and it’s now easily one of my very favorites of modern-era animated Disney. I think the story is very clever and I love the characters (yes, even Vanellope although I’m sure she gets on some people’s nerves). And I like the Sugar Rush song (seriously – I have it on my Apple playlist). Is it normal for me as an adult to rewatch these movies as much as kids do?! – 8.5/10
– Robin Hood (1973) – For whatever reason, I’d not watched this Disney movie a million times like a lot of the others so figured it was time for a rewatch as I didn’t remember it well. I really enjoyed it! Not sure why I never watched it much. The characters and a couple of the songs were fun. Glad I gave it a rewatch after all these years. – 7.5/10
– Spider-Man (2002) – Not sure if I have the energy but think I need to rewatch all these Spider-Man movies before the new film comes out. Mainly need to watch with my daughter who hasn’t seen any pre-Tom-Holland ones. Wanted to watch the second of these before rating this one as I seem to remember it being quite good? I like this one, though. We’ll give it a 7 & see if 2 is a 7.5! Don’t remember loving any of the rest. Still think the first couple of Tobey Maguire ones are the best, though, even though I think Tom Holland is decent. – 7/10
– Attack The Block – I really like this one although I can’t explain exactly why as the main characters are a group of young criminals. But the aliens are quite effective and it’s a decent alien invasion movie, which I always enjoy. – 7/10
– Practical Magic – A bit girly for me but I have to like chick flicks sometimes, right?? – 6.5/10
– The Island – Think this is pretty decent for a, uh, Michael Bay film. Until it turns too Michael Bay-like at the end. But it starts out well & the story is fine & Steve Buscemi is in it & Steve Buscemi rules. So, good enough. – 6.5/10
– The Hole (2009) – Trying to ease the daughter into horror as she’s not a big fan like I was at her age. Well, she didn’t like this one. It’s a very odd film. Expected so much more from Joe Dante as Gremlins is awesome. But this one is weird. It’s not really scary but it’s hard to know what sort of age it’s aimed at as it IS far too scary for kids at least. But teens & older would mostly find it silly. I don’t think it’s a horrible film – I think it’s just one that would only be liked by a small percentage of people if they’re just the right sort of age when they watch it. I just don’t know what age that might be! 10/11/12, maybe? – 6/10
– Short Circuit Shorts: Season 2 – These are really good animated shorts on Disney Plus. Of season two, Going Home really stood out. It was heartbreaking but a great short film.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
TV SHOWS WATCHED
Okay, I also watched way too many TV shows while stuck in bed. These are in no particular order…
– The White Lotus – Enjoyed this! It’s certainly not for everyone but I liked the dark humor & the characters were good. And Jennifer Coolidge was as fun to watch as always. And, MAN, I hated that newlywed husband! What a prick. I also liked that it was a short series. I hate things that drag on for years. I think a new series will focus on new people? Will definitely check it out based on Season 1.
– Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi, 僕だけがいない街) – This was quite good. I knew nothing about this Japanese anime series so am glad I gave it a chance. Here’s the IMDB synopsis: “29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is sent back in time 18 years to prevent the events leading to his mother’s death, which began with a series of kidnappings while he was in 5th grade.” Again, I really liked the “one short series” thing.
– Cruel Summer – This was kind of terrible and cheesy but I also kind of liked it? It was very “YA” and the acting was all pretty dreadful other than from the actress Olivia Holt. But I think I’ll forever be a sucker for YA drama. I don’t believe this was based on a book but this is exactly the kind of guilty pleasure YA stuff I still like to read. There’s a lot of back & forth as to who is telling the truth and you never know who to trust. It’s also set in the ’90s, which was fun, back when I was just a little older than these characters. It takes place in flashbacks all exactly three years apart in the two girls’ lives. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In a small Texas town, popular teen Kate, is abducted. Seemingly unrelated, a girl named Jeanette goes from being a sweet, awkward outside to the most popular girl in town, but by 1995 she has become the most-despised person in America.”
– Dark: S1 E1 – The hubby & I have decided to start watching this but have only seen one episode so I can’t say much yet. I’m certainly intrigued, though!! Very good first episode.
– Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E1-4 – My god – look at all these “adult drama” TV shows I watched in August! Not normally my type of thing. I’m liking this okay but The White Lotus was much better than what I’ve seen of this so far. Still interested to see what happens, though, and I think the acting is very good. I especially like Melissa McCarthy in this much more serious role & Bobby Cannavale. They’re really good so far. And I’m interested to see what will become of Regina Hall’s character (and all the guests, really).
– Monsters At Work: S1 E6-9 – Yep – I love this show!! Said more about it HERE. Hope there’s a Season 2!
– Steins;gate: S1 E1 – Decided to check out this anime series after really liking Erased. Well, the first episode hasn’t grabbed me. Will try a couple more…
– The Crown: S4 E3-4 – Finally watching the Diana episodes I’ve been looking forward to for ages! I’m enjoying them but I don’t buy into the person playing Diana at all. Which is a shame.
TV Shows Rewatched:
– Star Trek: The Next Generation: S1 – This is an all-time favorite of mine so am enjoying revisiting.
– The Golden Girls: Various episodes – Can always stick on an episode of this to cheer me up. 🙂
– Grey’s Anatomy: S1 – Daughter wanted to watch this as it’s her friend’s favorite show. Oh boy – I’d forgotten how inappropriate some of it is. But it’s rated 12, so, oh well – I guess I saw similar shows at her age. Anyway – I’ve watched this show for 17 years & have a love/hate relationship with it. Seeing Season 1 again was strange. It really was a better show at the start…
– If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat) – Oops. I read another Stephen King book… Well, I enjoyed it. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each. Not sure what to rate it as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this: – 3.5/5
– Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…
– The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.
– If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.
– Rat– This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
No plans for September but am considering doing October Horror Month again since I skipped it last year. But it would just be me reposting reviews of all the horror movies I’ve watched in the past year.
**I end these posts with a good song from one of the movies I watched but the Fear Street Trilogy & Cruella had LOADS of good songs! Well, I already posted David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges in those reviews. So here’s Time Of The Season by The Zombies (which was in Cruella):