Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2020

January is over!! Thank fuck. I’m still taking a blog break this year but I’ll probably do these monthly roundups as I’m obviously not going to take a break from watching movies. I watched seven movies in January, five of those in the cinema. Being in the U.K., January means the release of a lot of the Oscar nominees so I saw a lot of “worthy” stuff last month. I think the Oscar nominees are very weak this year, though. None of them really blew me away. I’ll do mini-reviews of each below.

**Damn. Three of my mini-reviews ended up way too long. So I might as well post separate full reviews for the Best Picture nominees (Parasite, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit & 1917) over the next three days.**

Also, apologies as I was taking a blog break for my sanity (Ha! As if I’ll ever be sane). So I haven’t replied to some great comments in the past month. I’ll be catching up on replies this week. Thanks for putting up with my unreliability!

MOVIES IN JANUARY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Parasite – 7.5/10

Little Women7/10

Jojo Rabbit7/10

Weathering With You – I couldn’t believe it when I saw that there was going to be a showing of a Japanese anime film at my local cinema. Only one showing, though, I believe. And it was packed. Maybe they should show this stuff a bit more often? It clearly has a fanbase. This film is from Makoto Shinkai, who also directed 5 Centimetres Per Second, The Garden Of Words & the fantastic Your Name. I’ll be honest – I thoroughly enjoyed this movie (as I knew I would) & it was gorgeous like all of Shinkai’s films but I did think it was the weakest of what I’ve seen of his work. As a lot of his films, this is another YA romance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – YA romance will probably always be a guilty pleasure of mine (especially when it’s supernatural romance & pretty anime). Like Your Name, the story involves nature & the sky & it’s all very lovely but the teens are borderline annoying at times. These anime teenagers in love are so damn dramatic! But there are funny moments & sweet moments and, fuck it – it’s Japanese anime so I liked it because I’m a nerdy film snob. Here’s one extra image from the film since it’s so pretty… – 7/10

1917 – 7/10

Long Shot – This was surprisingly enjoyable and pretty goddamn funny. If I wasn’t such a pussy, I’d rank it above 1917 but I don’t want anyone to yell at me. Let’s be honest – Seth Rogen wouldn’t have a chance in hell with gorgeous Charlize Theron but they somehow managed to make this relationship fairly believable. And Theron was a real surprise doing the comedy. She’s done comedy before but I thought she was really good in this and the chemistry with Rogen did work. To be fair, they’re my sort of age so I’m the right target market for the film but I got some good laughs out of this movie & am glad I watched it as I don’t go for many comedies these days. I needed some laughs in this month of “dramatic Oscar nominees”. – 7/10

Burning – I’ve been absolutely desperate to see this South Korean movie for ages. When this came out in 2018, everyone claimed you’d like one of these 2018 foreign films: Roma, Cold War, Shoplifters, or Burning. Well, I’ve finally seen them all and have to say they were all pretty damn disappointing. I fully expected to adore Shoplifters as I love Japanese movies, but… Meh. Well, it might be my favorite of these. Here’s my ranking:

Shoplifters
Burning
Cold War
Roma

Yes, I’ll never understand the love for Roma. Anyway, I did like Burning even though it’s far too long. I knew it was a “slow burn” but, holy hell. Not everyone will have the patience to sit through this one & you aren’t really rewarded with answers if you do. However, I did like the film’s atmosphere & its look & the frustrating mystery. And yeah – I also like Steven Yeun (as Glenn was one of the only characters I liked in The Walking Dead, which I’ve finally stopped watching as it has sucked for years). But nothing really happens in this movie. As I said, I did like it okay & thought it was a decent piece of filmmaking but it would be very hard to recommend to anyone. It certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. – 6.5/10

Rewatched:

The Meg – Rewatched this movie with the kid. It’s obviously not a “good” movie but it’s fun. And the characters are more likeable than we usually get in these kind of films. Good enough for me! – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I made a New Year’s Resolution to read more worthy books (or at least not so much YA). Then I read this YA book. Oops. I’d been intrigued by this one for a while as I’d read that is has a great twist ending (Really?! Lies). I enjoyed the book but it’s a series & I’m not sure I have the energy to read the rest. It’s my favorite sort of YA (Dystopian! Woohoo!). The world is made up of those with silver blood & special powers and those with red blood & no powers, who are essentially slaves to the silver bloods. There’s of course a love triangle (actually, it’s four people so it’s whatever you’d call that. THREE guys like the main chick. WTF). It’s a decent enough story but I can’t say it feels all that original as there are soooo many YA novels in this genre now. I’d like to know how it ends but maybe I’ll wait to see if they just do a film adaption of all the books. – 3/5

Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar – I enjoyed the first short novel, Gwendy’s Button Box, which Chizmar wrote with Stephen King so I figured I’d read this short sequel. It’s fine but you could tell the difference with King not writing this one as well. Not that it matters – it just certainly had far less “horror” than King’s stories. The story in this sequel is more straightforward & not as much strange stuff happens. I like the strange stuff, which is why I like King, so I definitely prefer the first book. But Chizmar did well with the character, who I liked in the first book, so it was good to find out more about what happened to her later in life. Worth a read if you read & liked the first one but don’t expect nearly as much stuff to happen in the sequel. The button box itself seemed a bit pointless in this book (and it’s a pretty cool box). – 3/5

Now Reading: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James & Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira (YA. Oops.)

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Star Trek: Picard – I’m a MASSIVE Star Trek: The Next Generation fan so I was of course super excited about this show. Love Patrick Stewart! I’ve only managed to watch the first episode so far, which was fine. Will see how the rest go. I badly want to see more TNG characters on this show…

The Middle – Wanted a simple, short sitcom to watch with the family. I recommended this as I’d seen a couple of seasons when it was first on & I liked it. Happy to say that my daughter loves it! It’s great to have a fun family sitcom to veg out to. They make so few of them now. Nothing is made with families in mind these days. I like the show as I think it’s a very realistic portrayal of a normal, slightly fucked-up, poor & struggling family in the American Midwest. I can relate to more of it than my British family, though. Reminds me of growing up in the same part of America.

Watchmen – I read Alan Moore’s Watchmen years ago & did enjoy it. I wasn’t a big fan of the 2009 film. It was okay – I should probably watch it again sometime. Oh man, though – I’m not sure how I felt about this TV series. It’s just… not Watchmen. There were things I liked about it. The story was okay, the characters were interesting, and I’m impressed that they played part of Devo’s Mongoloid in an episode. Oh, and a Howard Jones song too. Yay 80s! But. I dunno. It’s not Watchmen. The only thing it really accomplished was making me want to read the far superior graphic novel again. I think I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. I’d had zero experience reading graphic novels/ comic books & Watchmen was probably a pretty heavy one for me to start on. Not that I’ve read any more since… (Other than Tank Girl). Yeah, I’ll read Watchmen again someday. I’ll never watch this TV “sequel” thing again, though.

The Masked Singer (UK) – I hate myself for watching this shit. But it’s something braindead to stick on to pass the time with the family. Not being from the UK originally & having very little knowledge of the mainstream shit that people like or sports, I’ve not known some of the “celebrities” unmasked so far. Think they had far bigger stars for the US one??

Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer – I’m about halfway through watching this. It’s certainly an intriguing story but I’m not sure why I’m watching it as I’m not at all into the “true crime” thing like so many people seem to be. I don’t want to know about these psychos. It makes me sick. That’s why I watch fictional stuff. But it’s certainly worth a watch if this kind of thing floats your boat. The guy is an absolute nutjob. The most interesting thing to me has been seeing how a group of people on the Internet were the ones trying to hunt this psycho down.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Nothing planned! And I actually have no way to watch the Oscars this year for the first time, um, ever? So I have no plans to do any Oscar posts besides posting my reviews for Parasite, Little Women, Jojo Rabbit & 1917 this week. Hell, maybe I’ll also reblog my reviews of the other nominees as I’ve watched & reviewed every Best Picture nominee this year other than The Irishman (It’s too long! I have no time!).

Upcoming February Movies Releases:

Parasite – Saw this. Will post the full review this week.

Underwater – Could be fun or it could be total shit? May wait for Netflix.

Birds Of Prey – Meh. I never really enjoy the DC shit & I think this looks awful from the trailer. Maybe I’ll go to it if reviews are good.

The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle – Ohh. Bad reviews!! Will wait for Netflix.

Daniel Isn’t Real – Shitty horror? I watch way too much shitty horror. But this stars Mary Stuart Masterson! So I might check it out.

Fantasy Island – More shitty horror! Again, I’ll probably watch it but will wait for Netflix if reviews are really bad.

Emma – Meh. Another “wait for Netflix” film. How many Hollywood adaptations of the same stories do we really need??

The Call Of The Wild – Grumpy old Harrison Ford & a dog? Sounds okay to me.

Like A Boss – Meh. Shitty comedy can wait for Netflix too.

Brahms: The Boy II – Not gonna lie: I really liked The Boy. It had a cheesy ’80’s horror feel to it. And I love creepy dolls! So I’ll watch the sequel at some point.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Wow, this has a high rating on IMDb. Looks a bit “worthy”, though. I’ve had enough of “worthy” films for a while.

Color Out Of Space – I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BAD!!! 1. It’s directed by Richard Stanley, who directed a huge favorite film of mine (the criminally underrated Hardware). 2. It’s an H.P. Lovecraft story. 3. It stars Nicolas Cage doing yet another weird-ass looking film. If it’s half as strange as Mandy, I’ll be very happy. But I’m unlikely to be able to easily see it since non-mainstream movies are very hard to get hold of…

Wendy – Know nothing whatsoever about this but the plot synopsis sounds okay.

As I mentioned Devo in the Watchmen TV show, here’s the song. Devo deserve more recognition.

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2019

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!

MOVIES IN DECEMBER 2019

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – 7.5/10
Jumanji: The Next Level – 7.5/10
Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari) – 7.5/10
Knives Out – 7.5/10
Five Feet Apart – 7.5/10
Support The Girls – 6/10
Marriage Story – 5.5/10
The Knight Before Christmas – 5.5/10
Destination Wedding – 5/10
Brittany Runs A Marathon – 5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

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

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – 7.5/10

Jumanji: The Next Level – 7.5/10

Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari) – 7.5/10

Knives Out – 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

Five Feet Apart – 7.5/10

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

Marriage Story – 5.5/10

The Knight Before Christmas – 5.5/10

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

Destination Wedding – 5/10

Re-Watched:

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

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Love it. – 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

BOOKS READ

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 Ghosts collection 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.