Watched, Read, Reviewed: June 2018

Happy July, everyone! I’m WAY behind on my June Roundup. How is it July 2018? Where’s the time going?! Where’s my life going?!? Well, here’s the stuff I watched & read in June 2018. Once again, I was disappointed with most things. I seriously need to see a really great movie soon…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Enter The Dragon8.5/10
Deadpool 27/10
Ocean’s Eight7/10
Hereditary7/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Deadpool 27/10

Thief – Been wanting to watch this for a while as it’s Michael Mann’s first major film and I think Heat and Collateral are great. I got even more excited when the movie started and I saw that Tangerine Dream did the score. Yes!!! I love Tangerine Dream! This film is good & worth a watch if you’re a fan of either Mann or Tangerine Dream or late 70s/early 80s crime dramas. It feels like this probably inspired movies such as Drive looks-wise. It did drag a little, though. The characters were also a bit weak – I didn’t care too much about anyone although James Caan did do a decent job as a professional thief. Not as good as Heat but has the same great sort of look to it. It looks & feels like the best of Mann’s other work. – 7/10

The Florida Project – This was an odd one and I wasn’t sure while watching it if I liked it all that much. But I think I did. It grew on me and, weirdly, it was more entertaining than a lot of similar films that explore characters in situations where “nothing really happens”. I did really like Willem Dafoe in this although I don’t know if the role was “Oscar nominee” material. The main mother in this was annoying as hell and impossible to like but she felt like a real person, which not all movies are able to achieve. I ended up really liking her daughter & the other kids, although they seem bratty at first. They aren’t really, though – they’re just a product of their environment (a rundown motel just outside of Disney World). Actually, I thought the main girl (Brooklyn Prince) was a fantastic actress for her young age. Again, she felt like a real person. The setting was great (I love the look of that purple motel) and it was an interesting look at how there are people struggling to get by all over the world, including just outside of the happiest place on earth. I think I like this even more after writing this review… – 7/10

20th Century Women – This was actually pretty good! I really knew nothing about this going into it but I enjoyed each of the characters & their different personalities. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “The story of a teenage boy, his mother, and two other women who help raise him among the love and freedom of Southern California of 1979.” I couldn’t fully relate to any of the women but I did really like Greta Gerwig’s music-loving photographer and I especially loved all the Talking Heads music that they listened to. Good drama with strong performances from everyone (Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann & Billy Crudup) but has maybe too much of an indie-feel for a mainstream audience. Glad I checked it out. – 7/10

Ocean’s Eight7/10

Hereditary7/10

Christine (2016) – This is based on the true story of Christine Chubbuck, a TV news reporter who killed herself live on air in 1974. I’m surprised I knew nothing of this story and had never even heard of this woman. The story is, obviously, tragic and horrifying but I think the film handled the subject matter as well as it could. Rebecca Hall did a good job as Christine (though I can’t say how accurate the performance was). Not an easy watch and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone going through a hard time emotionally. It’s a solid drama & well acted but with a very slow pace and a TV movie feel to it. – 6.5/10

A Bucket Of Blood – Amazon Prime seems to have a lot of cult classic horrors at the moment so, like Carnival Of Souls last month, I was happy to finally check out this Roger Corman horror comedy starring Dick Miller. I can’t say it’s a “good” film but it’s memorable and I loved the 50’s beatnik setting. Not enough movies focus on that sort of culture – it made it feel more unique. Here’s another IMDb synopsis if you’ve not heard of it: “A dim-witted busboy finds acclaim as an artist for a plaster-covered dead cat that is mistaken as a skillful statuette. The desire for more praise soon leads to an increasingly deadly series of works.” I enjoyed it plus it’s only just over an hour long so I appreciated that (I rarely have enough time to watch an entire movie in one sitting). 6.5/10

Cargo – Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first. – 6.5/10

In Time – This was fine. A bit forgettable. Again, I liked the synopsis so finally decided to check this out. From IMDb: “In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage – a connection that becomes an important part of the way against the system.” The story was okay & I liked the way that people could “buy time” but a better movie could have been made from this story. Fun but probably a bit too glossy and full of pretty young people to take it very seriously. – 6/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane – I watched this odd 1976 Jodie Foster film partly because I was sick of seeing it in my Netflix Watchlist (it’s been on there for years). I think I was under the impression that it was a straightforward horror but it’s more of a drama that almost feels like a play. Actually, the story would work quite well as a play (maybe it was a play – I’m too lazy to look into it). It drags & I found it a bit underwhelming but the young Foster did a good job as the mysterious 13-year-old who seems to live in a house all on her own. – 5.5/10

Swiss Army Man – Okaaaaaaay. This pretty much sucked. I was never really a fan of Weekend At Bernie’s because I thought the “drag a dead guy around and pretend he’s alive” gag was stupid. This is the same gag multiplied by one million. With farts. LOTS of farts. But… I guess it’s superior to Weekend At Bernie’s since it’s current & everything more than ten years old is shit in the eyes of the current generation? Anyway, I’d give it a lower rating but I have to admit that riding a dead guy like a waterski as his farts propel you is, um, original? And I always moan that there’s no originality these days. So I’ll be nice and give an extra point for some unique stupid gags that even Weekend At Bernie’s couldn’t have dreamed up. – 5/10

Dig Two Graves – Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull. – 4.5/10

The Dark Tower – What in the actual fuck WAS this?! I love King but never got around to reading The Dark Tower series. I did read The Gunslinger (review HERE), though. The first book. This movie is NOT The Gunslinger. I know people have said it takes elements from the other books. Ugh. Whatever. I’ll keep reading the books as people do rave about them and they all trash this terrible adaptation. Just read The Gunslinger. Avoid this movie – it doesn’t resemble the story I read in any way whatsoever. – 3/10

Re-Watch: Mrs. Doubtfire – Never did love this movie but finally watched it with the kid. She liked it okay but didn’t love it. I do love Robin Williams, though. Miss him! – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz. I recently did a post of My Top Ten Dean Koontz books HERE. The Odd Thomas series is great, mainly because the main character is so good. The first book is the best by FAR of what I’ve read so far, though, although I did enjoy book 3 (Brother Odd). I found this one (book 4) disappointing. Maybe it’s like the Star Trek movies but the opposite – only the odd numbers are good?? Ha! ODD numbers. Anyway – I’ll keep reading as I love the character. – 3/5

Currently Reading: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera & Strange Weather by Joe Hill

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Girls – I needed a short show to have on while exercising & saw this one was available & realized I’d watched all but the final two seasons. So I watched the final two seasons. The characters were as fucking hateful as always. Seriously – are these the most hateful people in a tv series ever or WHAT?! Yes. Yes they are. If these people were a part of my real life, I’d do everything in my power to avoid them. They never felt at all realistic. Are there really people like these?!? I used to think there weren’t but, thanks to Twitter, I’m thinking there really are people as nauseating as these four girls. But, fuck it – anyone who says this show wasn’t well written and wasn’t funny at times is a liar. Because it’s hard to admit. These people are so hateful that we don’t want to give the show any credit. However, that final episode may be the worst finale for a show that I’ve ever seen. What on Earth were they thinking?! What a let down.

13 Reasons Why – I’ve now seen two episodes. It’s fine. I read the book (my review is HERE) and the adaptation is decent so far. But I do have issues with the story being told at all. It’s a very sensitive topic and I don’t think the book necessarily handled it well so don’t know if the show will either. Seeing what season 2 is about, though, makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t believe they went there… I’ll only be watching season 1, which is the story in the book.

The IT Crowd – Again, I finally started this as I need a short show on while exercising. I watched the first episode. I wasn’t really feeling it… Maybe I’ll give it another go at some point.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

(Well, the month is half over so I’ve seen some of these now)

The First Purge – Saw it. Liked it but it’s the weakest of the four. My review is HERE.

Mary Shelley – I’ll probably wait for Netflix.

Skyscraper – Looks dumb but fun. Anyone know if it’s appropriate for a 9-year-old? She weirdly seems to like The Rock. She did love Rampage, which was pretty intense…

Incredibles 2 – Saw it! Loved it. Will try to review it this week.

The Secret Of Marrowbone – Looks okay but I know that 90% of modern horrors disappoint me so who knows? May wait for Netflix.

Hotel Artemis – Hmm. Looked fun but hasn’t had great reviews. Feels like a John Wick ripoff anyway.

Advertisements

My Top Ten Dean Koontz Books

Happy 73rd Birthday To Dean Koontz.

I love Dean Koontz. Yeah, I’m a huge Stephen King fan but I’ve spent almost as many years obsessively reading Koontz books as well. I started reading King in my teens but was introduced to Koontz in my early 20s when a relative recommended him and let me borrow some of her books. I was immediately hooked.

I’ll always remember the very first Koontz books I read (The Funhouse was my first and then Whispers, The Servants Of Twilight & Dragon Tears). So each of these make it into my top ten but this may be partly because of the fond memories I have of reading my first Dean Koontz books. The Funhouse was admittedly cheesy & pulpy but it’ll always be special to me since it was my first. And I do love that sort of setting for stories (as you’ll see by my number one choice).

In looking up his books on Wikipedia for this list, I’ve now seen JUST how many books Koontz had written. Wow! His first novel was published in 1968 when he was 23. No wonder I can’t keep them all straight in my head. As so many involve similar supernatural stories & characters, there are some books where I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read them or not and some I know I read but can’t remember a thing about. I’ve listed everything after my top ten. As with Stephen King books, I do find it interesting that I remember some of the books I read 20 years ago more than some that I read more recently. Why is that?

Anyway! Dean Koontz books are a hell of a lot of fun and I recommend his stuff if you love supernatural stories (and horror and a bit of sci-fi). He also always writes very likable characters, which is important to me. And dogs! The guy loves dogs and you’ll find plenty in his books.

So here are My Top Ten Dean Koontz Books (at the moment). Counting down to my favorite…

10. TIE: Dragon Tears & The Servants Of Twilight
9. Whispers
8. The Funhouse
7. Strangers
6. Fear Nothing & Seize The Night (Moonlight Bay Series) (I could do with re-reading – think a 3rd in this series is coming out?)
5. Cold Fire
4. Lightning
3. Odd Thomas Series (I’ve read books 1 through 4 so far – the first is the best by FAR but the character is fantastic and I’ll definitely read them all)
2. Watchers
1. Twilight Eyes

Honorable Mentions:
Life Expectancy, Darkfall, Phantoms, Sole Survivor, Hideaway, Ticktock

More Honorable Mentions:
The Moonlit Mind, The Face, The Good Guy, The Darkest Evening Of The Year, One Door Away From Heaven, Dark Rivers Of The Heart, The Door To December, Mr. Murder

I Read But Didn’t Love:
From The Corner Of His Eye (was this the puking & pooping one??), False Memory, The Key To Midnight, Shadow Fires, Winter Moon, The Mask

Think I Read But Can’t Remember:
The Voice Of The Night, The House Of Thunder, Midnight, Strange Highways, Velocity, The Husband

Honestly Don’t Know If I Read:
Night Chills, The Face Of Fear, The Bad Place, Intensity

Some I think I Definitely Haven’t Read: (Christmas present ideas!) 😉
Frankenstein Series (I have the first book – should I make a start?), Makina Series, Jane Hawk Series, Demon Seed (but I’ve seen the movie), Shattered (I have this so I’ll read it soon), The Vision, The Eyes Of Darkness, Icebound, By The Light Of The Moon, The Taking, Your Heart Belongs To Me, Relentless, Breathless, What The Night Knows & Darkness Under The Sun, 77 Shadow Street, Wilderness, Innocence, The Neighbor, The City, Ashley Bell, Ricochet Joe (I have this – it’s an interactive Kindle book with moving images. Sounds interesting!)

By the way – Koontz has also used ten pen names & I’m now determined to find a copy of all his oldest & most obscure books. I’ve not even listed his most obscure. This dude has seriously pumped out loads of books! And I hope that continues for many more years. Happy Birthday, Dean Koontz!

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2018

Happy June, everyone! As always, I’m behind on my blog. I’m annoyed that I didn’t see Deadpool 2 in May (but I’ve seen it now – I’ll review it soon). And I didn’t manage to review my Blind Spot movie in May (Enter The Dragon) so I might post two Blind Spot reviews in June. Or not. Life is too busy! But you gotta put life first. 🙂 Here’s the crap I watched & read in May…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Solo: A Star Wars Story – 8/10
Tully – 7.5/10
Rampage – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

War For The Planet Of The Apes – LOVED this. Wasn’t happy that I missed out on seeing this in the cinema last year but things were too hectic for me when it was out. If I’d seen it, it easily would’ve made My Top Ten Movies Of 2017. I’d put it in either 3rd or 4th place – I can’t decide if it would be above Blade Runner 2049 or not. Oh, by the way, I’d also add Colossal to that Top Ten now too and I recommend that if you’ve not seen it. But back to the apes! How great are those apes?! Who ever would’ve thought that they could look SO damn good?? I mean, I’m still a fan of the original 1968 film but this reboot has been amazing, especially in the development of these characters. The ape characters, of course. Love them. It’s funny how we can care so much more about them than we can about most human characters in movies nowadays. Anyway – I don’t need to ramble on forever. I missed this at the time but am so glad I’ve finally caught up. This has easily been one of the most satisfying reboots ever and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these films. But I hope they end it here – it would make for the perfect ending plus Hollywood needs to learn to quit while ahead. – 8.5/10

Solo: A Star Wars Story – 8/10

Metropolis – This is a Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full soon. It’s a gorgeous film. – 8/10

The Theory Of Everything – I’m happy that I finally watched this as well. I gotta be honest – Eddie Redmayne annoys me for some reason so that may be why I didn’t rush to see this. But, damn, he earned that Oscar! He was brilliant in this film. I’m sorry, Eddie Redmayne! I was also equally impressed by Felicity Jones – it’s a shame she didn’t get an Oscar as well but at least she was nominated. Jane Hawking came across as an incredibly strong woman in this movie so it’s a shame I think the role was overshadowed. I’ll be honest again and say that I didn’t know much about the life of Stephen Hawking, especially his personal life, so I found this film fascinating. I don’t normally like many “true stories” based on real people but this film was fantastic. Stephen & Jane Hawking led an amazing life. R.I.P. Stephen Hawking. – 8/10

A Monster Calls – I read this book last year (it just made it into My Top Ten Books Of 2017). I never got around to reviewing the book but thought it was a great pre-teen to young adult novel showing a different way of handling grief. What the boy goes through with his mother’s cancer felt very real & heartbreaking. The idea for the story was conceived by Siobhan Dowd while she had cancer. She died before she could write it, so it was written by Patrick Ness. This probably helped add to the grief feeling so real in the book. As for the movie, it’s a great adaptation & very faithful to the book. I loved the look of the film (also true to the illustrated version of the book that I read). Felicity Jones (again!) is very good as the mother, the boy (Lewis MacDougall) is great in a very difficult role, and Sigourney Weaver, um, sounds weird as hell with an English accent. And the dad is a useless fuckwit (same as in the book). The movie is so faithful that you could probably just watch the movie if you really don’t want to read the book. But I recommend at least one or the other. Be sure to have tissues… – 7.5/10

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – I don’t know why I’m on a Marilyn Monroe kick but this is the third movie of hers that I’ve watched in the past several months. I always wanted to check this one out since, not gonna lie, I loved Madonna’s Material Girl video. Wow – she really did do an almost exact copy of Marilyn’s performance in this film. It was fun finally watching that scene in full. Of the three films I’ve seen so far, Marilyn played the “dumb blonde” and I don’t know if she did much beyond that sort of character but, hell, it worked. I thought I might find her a little annoying (sorry!) but she’s likable in a very innocent yet shrewd sort of way. Monroe herself wasn’t dumb in the slightest – she used what worked for her and, yes, I can see her appeal. Personality-wise, though, I’d have to say that I’d personally choose to be more like Jane Russell’s character in this. She’s the very definition of SASSY! I don’t watch enough old films so I think this is the first thing I’ve seen her in. I especially loved how she lusted over the male Olympians (I loved that song & dance number – I’ll stick it at the end of this post). Together, Russell & Monroe made a great team in this with their very different, yet determined, personalities. And this is probably the best I’ve seen from Monroe – I think Russell helped bring out the best in her here. I think I have a weird sort of girl crush on the combo of the two of them. I still like Some Like It Hot the most but far preferred Gentleman Prefer Blondes to The Seven Year Itch, which is dated in a somewhat uncomfortable way that doesn’t really work now. All three have outdated values but, screw it, who cares? These movies were made in a very different time. Monroe and Russell are very sexy but also very strong women in this one. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is just a really fun film. Movies are rarely fun anymore. – 7.5/10

Tully – 7.5/10

Everything, Everything – This is another book that I read last year and liked a heck of a lot. But it’s sooooo “Young Adult romance” and definitely not for everyone. Again, this is a pretty faithful adaptation but the book did a better job of capturing the likable personality of Madeline, who suffers from “severe combined immunodeficiency” and hasn’t been able to leave her house for 18 years. This becomes complicated when she falls for the boy who has just moved in next door. Amandla Stenberg is perfect as Madeline, though. Hey – she was Rue in The Hunger Games! When did she grow up? She’s adorable. The boy she falls for is played by Nick Robinson from Love, Simon. He was good as well but the movie tells you very little about him. Anyway. I really liked the book and this adaptation but you won’t like this one unless you’re into YA romances. – 7/10

Atomic Blonde – This was fine but a bit disappointing. I feel similar to how I felt about The Hitman’s Bodyguard – it has a lot of big movie stars who did well in a weak film. Charlize Theron was great – tough & sexy & had me wondering how I would look in a blonde wig just like hers (I’d look shit – I’m not Charlize Theron). This is set in 1989 so I loved the soundtrack but the movie does try too hard to look “cool”. But it’s still a good-looking film and I totally wanted to be Charlize (without all the “getting beat to shit” stuff). I had fun with it and enjoyed it more than The Hitman’s Bodyguard. This is from one of the same directors as John Wick and it’s basically John Wick but with boobs and a far weaker storyline. – 6.5/10

Shane – I watched this because this is the film they watched in Logan. Seriously – I’m weird like that. I’m always interested in looking into the films showing within films. This is a full-on old Western and not even one of those cool Leone Spaghetti Westerns so it’s not my favorite sort of genre and I’m certainly no expert. But it’s a very good film with some gorgeous cinematography and Shane is a really cool tough dude who stands up for what’s right. It’s a timeless story & totally deserves a much higher rating than I’m giving it. But the Leone films are much more my thing if I’m going to make myself watch Westerns. – 6.5/10

Rampage – 6.5/10

Carnival Of Souls (1962) – I’ve wanted to see this for years (FYI – it’s on Amazon Prime UK). Mainly because of the title: CARNIVAL OF SOULS!!! Seriously – that’s an awesome title. The movie itself? Low budget and extremely slow-paced. I love the idea of the story, though, and can see that this probably influenced many later horror films such as Romero’s brilliant Night Of The Living Dead. There’s some great stuff going on in this movie, including creepy & atmospheric organ music and zombielike people who seem to be after the main character’s soul following her car accident. I want to give this a higher rating. It deserves higher. I may up my rating at some point… I do think it’s worthy of its cult status and that all film lovers, especially horror film lovers, should see it. But it IS very slow. The story is dragged out for too long but, to be fair, the ending won’t have been blatantly obvious in 1962. This film was probably a bit of a shock back then! But it could’ve made for a kick ass half-hour episode of The Twilight Zone instead. – 6.5/10

Going In Style – I watched this as it seemed like a nice, lightweight film starring three actors that I really like. Oh, shit – one of them is in trouble now. Dammit. Am I allowed to talk about this movie now? At this rate, I’m going to have to delete half my blog’s old Top Ten lists involving male actors (I’d never do that – I don’t believe in erasing the past). Anyway, this film was fine but a bit meh. It’s one of those that I enjoyed well enough while watching but will barely remember in a year. It relies too much on its big name stars, who all did well and were likable as always but the story is a bit weak. – 6/10

The Space Between Us -The same again – a bit meh. Disappointing as I really loved the plot synopsis on IMDb: “The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.” It was okay. I liked the story but they somehow managed to make it into a very bland film. I like all the actors in it and am not really sure where it all went wrong. Oh well. I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time – I just wanted it to be better. – 6/10

Goodnight Mommy – Another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like this one. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential. – 5.5/10

Annabelle: Creation – Ugh. I trashed the first movie HERE. The first film was ridiculous and couldn’t have been more cliché. At first, it seemed that this one was going to be much better. Oh, hell no! It’s even worse. I think it made me appreciate the first film more, even with all its overused horror tropes. Those things are overused because they sometimes work. This sequel probably could have used a little more of that. I dunno. I think what annoys me with modern horror films such as these, besides the predictability and stupid jump scares and lack of originality or good storytelling, is the filmmakers’ obvious hatred for the characters. The characters are only there to die. So why would I give a shit about what happens? In that case, I’d rather watch silly 80’s slashers which had a sense of fun. We need at least one person to root for/to possibly survive/to not be possessed. I mean, we do have a nice group of young girls I wanted to like but they got so little character development. And a tragic beginning turns a sweet couple into “creepy people who act strange”. It doesn’t end well in this film for people who don’t deserve to suffer (sorry if that’s spoiler-y). And, okay, maybe I don’t like sweet young girls turning into psychotic demons. Well, maybe in a good movie. Actually, I like demonic kids – The Omen is awesome… Never mind. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. This movie just sucked. – 4.5/10

Re-Watch: Stardust – Watched this with the kid and she loved it. She adores The Princess Bride (since she has awesome taste like her mother) so I figured she’d enjoy this as well. Not that this is nearly as good as The Princess Bride! But nothing is… – 7.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Me & my YA novels! What can I say? They’re simple reads and some are pretty good. This is one of the pretty good ones. It’s yet again another romance but the characters feel real & truly in love despite being so different. Plus, it’s set in the 80s and they talk about lots of music that I like so that was a big plus for me (I’m so old). The story is pretty straightforward but the characters make this a really enjoyable read. – 4/5

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James – This was an odd one. I love sci-if so was intrigued by this synopsis at Goodreads: “Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . ” This is, I guess, what would fall under the YA definition again? But only because it involves a teenage girl. And it’s not a romance in the way it sounds in the synopsis. It’s hard to describe this without spoilers but this gets pretty intense at the end and I have to say it was a real page-turner as I took it everywhere with me as I was eager to find out how it would end. I liked the way we learn about these chatacters through e-mails that they aren’t able to reply to until months later. And the thought of being alone in space has always intrigued me/freaked me out. But I’m not sure how I feel about the direction the book takes at the end. It would make for a good movie & I liked the story but I’m not sure this “YA sci-fi romance drama thriller” quite worked. – 3/5

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – I’ve now read all of Flynn’s novels and I think she’s a very good & entertaining writer, especially as I’m not usually into the crime thriller type of genre. Gone Girl drove me a bit crazy with its hateful characters but it was a damn good read. Sharp Objects, however, was so utterly twisted that it’s my favorite so far just because it was so bonkers. Dark Places was also a good read from Flynn but definitely my least favorite of her full-length novels so far. But that’s not saying it’s bad – it’s a twisty turny murder mystery that I’m sure any fans of this genre would like. It’s just not my favorite genre. And although everyone in it is truly fucked-up, I liked the even crazier Sharp Objects-level of fucked-up. – 3/5

Laurie by Stephen King – This was fine. A very short, not-full-on-horror type of King story. This was a freebie released by King as a precursor to his new novel, The Outsider. Can’t wait to get that! I adore King and try to read everything of his. If you like King too, you need to read Laurie. – 3/5

Currently Reading: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Just stupid Grey’s Anatomy. Still. For some reason. They almost killed off a main doctor character again. Such a dangerous hospital to work in!!! Boring season finale. Maybe they should’ve killed someone after all.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I’m not overly excited, though, to be honest. The last one was just okay. But I’m not a massive Jurassic Park fan beyond the very first film anyway.

Hereditary – This looks intense! And I always get excited by horrors that actually get really great reviews. This is the movie I’m most looking forward to this month. Can’t wait!

Ocean’s 8 – Looks like a bit of fun but I don’t expect much more than that.

Sicario 2: Soldado – I thought Sicario was fantastic despite it not being my type of genre at all. But different people are involved this time (no Villeneuve or Deakins!) so it’s hard to get overly excited about it.

May watch on Netflix:
Book Club, In The Fade, Adrift, Tag, Leave No Trace

Watched, Read, Reviewed: April 2018

I’ve been disappointed with a lot of the movies I’ve watched this year but I finally saw some decent ones in April. I even saw a good modern horror! Those are few & far between. Here’s my month of April…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

A Quiet Place – 8/10
Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10
Citizen Kane – 7.5/10
Love, Simon – 7.5/10
Blockers – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Enter The Dragon – I loved this! Probably my favorite movie I’ve seen this year so far. It’s a Blind Spot choice of mine so I’ll review it in full soon. – 8.5/10

A Quiet Place – 8/10

Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10

Love, Simon – 7.5/10

Berlin Syndrome – I actually thought this was a decent psychological thriller. Starring Teresa Palmer & Max Riemelt, this is the IMDb synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’m always interested to see how a character will behave in this sort of situation (Teresa Palmer is the one being kept locked up in the apartment belonging to a stranger she’s slept with while on holiday). It’s strange to see him go about his daily life as normal each day while keeping her imprisoned and to see the “relationship” develop between them (he sees her as his girlfriend, of sorts, in his messed up mind). And she of course depends on him for food, etc, to survive. It’s based on a book so I’d be interested to know more about the characters’ feelings & motivations as I think the movie doesn’t explore this well enough. Maybe I’ll read the novel sometime. – 6.5/10

Blockers – 6.5/10

Midnight Run – Yes, the 1988 Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin film. This is one of those “re-watches” that I don’t count as a re-watch since I didn’t remember it whatsoever. What can I say? Yes, it’s a bit dated & of its time but I grew up in the Eighties & love films from that time. This was enjoyable but, yes, somehat forgettable (which is why I’d forgotten it!). They make a good movie duo, though. Certainly worth a watch if you like De Niro and/or Eighties films. – 6.5/10

The Beguiled (2017) – I was quite disappointed with this film, although I don’t think it’s “bad”. I like a lot of Sofia Coppola’s movies & was really looking forward to seeing this remake done from a female perspective. I saw the original Clint Eastwood movie last year & thought it was really good (it made it into My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies list – I don’t know why I’ve watched so many of his movies since starting this blog but he really has been in some great films!). This remake ended up feeling completely pointless. Okay, I know that 99.9% of remakes ARE pointless. But Coppola brings nothing new to the table. The movie is pretty much a straight copy but with far more shallow characters, which I certainly wasn’t expecting. I figured they’d have much more depth but the characters actually felt far more complex in the original. There are so many shades of gray going on in the original – you don’t know who to trust or who you should be rooting for (well, probably Eastwood – those ladies go pretty crazy). Oh hell, it’s probably Colin Farrell’s fault that I didn’t like the remake. Is it just me or is he a borderline horrible actor? The women all did fine (although their characters were very watered down versions of those in the original film). But, with Farrell, there was this… Nothingness. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t get into this one. I don’t even particularly like Eastwood but he was soooo much better in this role. Okay, maybe it’s not your fault, Sofia! This film did look lovely and it was worth a watch to compare the two. But the male lead character is SUCH an important role in this film and they chose someone very wrong for the part. They needed someone with depth whose motivations seem unclear. Oh… Imagine Daniel Day-Lewis or similar in this movie. It could’ve been great if that had happened. – 6.5/10

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Again, this was a bit disappointing but my expectations weren’t exactly high. I just wanted a fun popcorn movie and who doesn’t like Samuel L. Jackson & Ryan Reynolds?! It was fun seeing them together but Reynolds doesn’t get to be as lovably goofy as I think we all expect now. Overall, the movie was a bit boring & forgettable. Salma Hayek’s character (the kick-ass, tough talking wife of Jackson) actually steals the show. – 6.5/10

Honey – Yeah, the old Jessica Alba dance movie. I admit to liking a girly dance movie sometimes (like Save The Last Dance, which I’d now like to re-watch). Although the Breakin’ movies kick the shit out of these two! Anyway, Honey is cheesy & predictable but I liked it just fine. It’s exactly what I expected. And my kid loved it (she’s a fraction young – we skipped some of the sexy sexy stuff). I’d have liked to see much more Missy Elliott in this – she was fun. – 6/10

The Circle – Ugh. This was a very bad adaptation of a flawed book (I reviewed the book HERE). And I’m starting to think that Emma Watson truly annoys the hell out of me. To be fair, her character was thoroughly hateful in the book so she was probably right for the movie adaptation. Tom Hanks was very wrong for his role. This movie just does a horrible job getting its point across. Well, I’m not sure it even had a point. The book starts out really well addressing the evils of shit like Facebook and a world with a complete lack of privacy (See? NOW you’re all starting to see the truth!). But the book falls apart at the end, which sucked as it was making a very scary & valid point to begin with. But the movie just says “fuck it!” and doesn’t even attempt to make any sort of social commentary whatsoever. Just watch The Social Network instead of this. – 5/10

• Re-Watch: Iron Man – I won’t rank this re-watch as I know this film very well. I’m going to work my way through re-watching the Marvel movies with my kid as she loved Avengers: Infinity War and now wants to see them all from the start. I’m not a massive superhero fan but I do like the Marvel characters a lot and this film is easily one of the best (I’ve ranked all the MCU films HEREIron Man is my second favorite). – 8/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe – Well, I’ll be damned! Edgar Allan Poe was one hell of a writer. I guess that’s why he’s considered one of the best in this genre, eh? I loved this short story. So descriptive and atmospheric. Macabre and creepy. I’m definitely going to finally read some more Poe now. I should’ve read this years ago. The spooky shit is right up my alley. – 4.5/5

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz – he’s kind of a guilty pleasure that I don’t actually feel guilty about. He’s no Stephen King and, I’m not gonna lie, all his books follow the exact same sort of formula. But it’s an enjoyable formula that always contains likable characters and very weird supernatural stories that are a lot of fun. This is the third book in the Odd Thomas series (I reviewed the movie HERE). The first Odd Thomas is easily one of Koontz’s best books and Odd is a great character who is clearly popular with fans. I can’t say I remember Book 2 very well but Brother Odd is possibly one of the slightly more strange Koontz stories (they’re all highly strange, though!). Strange is good.  I’m eager to continue the series now after finding Book 2 forgettable and not reading the next one until many years later. – 3.5/5

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – Hmm. This short story started out strong then just kind of… Ended. It was one of those stories where you finish it & go “Huh? That’s it?” I really enjoyed Flynn’s Gone Girl & especially Sharp Objects and am currently in the middle of Dark Places. Good so far. Guess her full length novels are much better than her short stories. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Greys Anatomy – Why do I watch this? I think I just like to see who they might kill off next. How do so many doctors die violently in medical dramas?! ER was the best for that. Remember when what’s his face grumpy bald doctor dude got squished by the helicopter after previously having his arm chopped off by one? Being a TV doctor is dangerous.

The Walking Dead – Fuck this show. That finale was the worst one yet. I’m finally giving up on continuing with this.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Wow – May is a shitty month for movies! I only want to see three. Maybe I’ll be more productive this month since I won’t be wasting time at the cinema. Hmm…

Tully – I really liked Juno and thought Young Adult was okay so am looking forward to another Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman collaboration.

Deadpool 2 – The first one was hilarious and Ryan Reynolds is adorable. I’ll definitely be catching this one.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Tickets already booked! I actually wasn’t sure how I felt about this one but I have to say that the trailers finally got me excited. This may turn out to be quite good. We’ll see! Fingers crossed…

Maybe watch on Netflix if I can be bothered:
Life Of The Party (unless reviews are dreadful), Breaking In, How To Talk To Girls At Parties,The Cured, On Chesil Beach, The Breadwinner

No Fucking Way:
I Feel Pretty

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2018

I didn’t manage to see many movies in the cinema in March and most that I watched at home were meh. But I did love I, Tonya! And Ready Player One was fun. I’ll do mini-reviews below for the ones I haven’t reviewed yet…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

I, Tonya – 8/10
Ready Player One – 8/10
Game Night – 7.5/10
Annihilation – 7/10
Atonement – 6/10


MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

I, Tonya – 8/10

Ready Player One – 8/10

Game Night – 7.5/10

Personal Shopper – I liked this although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I’m not a fan of Kristen Stewart so wasn’t planning on watching this until reading that it had a supernatural twist. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.” It’s an odd mix of mystery, supernatural, indie, and Kristen Stewart nudity. Not as supernatural as I was hoping but a decent story that kept me interested. – 7/10

Hidden Figures – Finally catching up on more of last year’s Oscar nominees! This is a fantastic story that I fully admit to knowing nothing about before the movie was made. It’s the type of movie I wish there was more of now that my kid is the right sort of age for these things: inspirational people & true stories in a family-friendly format. However, it still comes across as a little bit too much of a phony feelgood Hollywood movie. The story is important & I’m glad that more is now known about these women. Even though the whole “running miles to the segregated bathroom each day” was mostly bullshit. The three main performances were strong (I especially liked Janelle Monáe – I’d like to see her in more films). It’s worth watching, especially with your kids. But be sure to look into the real women as well since, to be expected, Hollywood changed things and amalgamated characters to make more drama than actually existed within the NASA environment. – 7/10

Annihilation – 7/10

The Seven Year Itch – I decided to check out more of Billy Wilder & Marilyn Monroe after thoroughly enjoying Some Like It Hot (my mini-review is HERE). The Seven Year Itch hasn’t aged nearly as well. I know it was a different time & I always keep this in mind when watching older films but this one really feels out of place now with the “all men are simple idiots who can’t help themselves around beautiful women” trope. But I do think Monroe was truly iconic and, although her naïve sexy blonde thing also feels out of place today, there’s no denying a certain likability there despite what I suspect was an ability to only play one type of character (but I know I need to watch more than just two of her movies to see if that was the case). Monroe is the true star of this film while the “tempted male” (Tom Ewell), who talks outloud to himself through the whole film, is quite annoying. I do wonder if I’d feel this way if he’d been played by someone like Jack Lemmon, who may have made the character much more likable & funny. Thanks to Wilder there’s still some sharp writing, though, and it’s worth watching for some very iconic Monroe scenes (including the one with the famous white dress being blown up by the subway grate). What’s interesting is that the scene is nothing like the pictures you’ve seen where you see all of her: you only see shots of her legs & her face separately. Sadly, I read this bit of trivia at IMDb, which adds a terrible twist to that scene: “Not without a distinct ring of irony, the nine-month Marilyn Monroe-Joe DiMaggio marriage officially ended during this shoot. DiMaggio was furious about the filming of the scene where his wife’s dress blows up, and the next day, Monroe reportedly required make-up to cover up bruises from the ensuing domestic fight. Three weeks later, she filed for divorce.” Horrible. But I think it’s well known that, despite being one of the most famous sex symbols of all time, it didn’t bring Monroe much happiness. – 7/10

Tickled – This is a documentary investigating a bizarre practice called “Competitive Endurance Tickling”. The filmmaker, David Farrier, discovered videos online of late teen/twentysomething males tickling tied-up males. It seemed strange but fairly innocent until he decided to look into things further for his documentary. The story takes a very sinister turn when he discovers that these young men were blackmailed and threatened over the videos. He then starts receiving very disturbing threats as he gets deeper into the story and the true indentity of the person behind the videos & harassment. This is certainly one of the more odd & intriguing documentaries I’ve seen & I do recommend it if you like a weird story. It reminded me a bit of Catfish (2010) in that both are so unbelievable that they almost feel staged. But I don’t think this was – it just needs to be seen to be believed. (This probably deserves a higher rating but I’m not a huge fan of documentaries & tend to rate them lower). – 6.5/10

Teen Witch – Hahaha! Oh. Wow. This is BAD. I’m not sure how I managed to miss out on a teen movie back in 1989 but, for some reason, this one passed me by. I’m giving it a decent rating, however, as it’s so bad that it almost achieves that “so bad it’s good” status. Not in a Road House kind of way (which is so bad it’s AWESOME) but the many silly bits are quite entertaining. It’s hard to pick a favorite part but the “I Like Boys” dance routine in the locker room was pretty fucking hilarious – I’ve put that video at the end of this post if you want a laugh. And if you like 80’s cheese, you should definitely watch Teen Witch. To be fair, I think it knows it’s cheesy… – 6/10

Table 19 – I didn’t know beforehand who’d written this story (Mark & Jay Duplass). Ugh, those mumblecore guys. I’m not really a fan of that subgenre. But Table 19 isn’t a mumblecore film, FYI (though I’m not sure why since it mostly fits the definition – maybe it’s excluded since some stuff actually happens in this movie). Here’s the Wikipedia definition if you don’t know what I’m talking about & link to list of films: “Mumblecore is a subgenre of independent film characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogue (often improvised), low-budget film production, an emphasis on dialogue over plot, and a focus on the personal relationships of people in their 20s and 30s.” Looking at that, though, I see that I do like some of the mumblegore movies (mumblecore in the horror genre). Mostly the Ti West films such as The House Of The Devil but I can definitely see how those got the mumblegore label. Who wants to watch millennials sitting around & whining about their lives for two hours while never actually doing anything?! I just realized what mumblecore is… It’s all those whiny bitches I try to avoid on social media! No thanks. Oops – I’m meant to be talking about Table 19. It’s borderline mumblecore and it did take me a while to get into it but I liked that it went in a direction I wasn’t expecting. It gets more serious than it first seems it’s going to be and I ended up not hating Anna Kendrick like you may at first because of her behavior at the beginning. It’s an okay film but just be aware of the writers beforehand and know that you’re not going to be getting too much of a plot. Wow – I really doubt I’ve talked anyone into watching this. It’s not bad. It’s an interesting assortment of characters and I ended up liking those played by Kendrick, Stephen Merchant & especially June Squibb. – 6/10

Free Fire – This was my first Ben Wheatley film and… Meh. It looks like some of his other films are considered mumblegore so I guess that tells me that I may not be a fan. I thought the story and characters were okay but it’s really just Tarantino-light. It’s a boring version of Reservoir Dogs without the witty banter. The hubby hated it & fell asleep after moaning about the terrible editing or something (I don’t notice that sort of thing) but I kept watching as it kept me slightly interested. But only slightly. Maybe Wheatley’s other (non-mumble) movies are better? – 6/10

The Levelling – I saw a review really praising this when it came out last year & liked the sound of if. IMDb synopsis: “Somerset, October 2014. When Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) receives a call telling her that her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) is dead, she must return to her family farm and face the man she hasn’t spoken to in years: her father Aubrey (David Troughton).” Boring indie drama. Complete waste of my time although I suppose there were some okay performances. Sorry – this just isn’t my type of thing at all but it may work for others who enjoy dark & dreary dramas in which very little happens. And it’s so grey & wet & rainy & muddy – I get enough of that in real-life England. Screw that. – 5/10

It Comes At Night – Another 2017 movie that I was wanting to see ASAP due to its rave reviews at the time. WTF?! I was bored out of my damn mind! I’m starting to truly believe that IMDb is being filled with fake reviews written by the studios. This has a 78 out of 100 metascore?! Fuck off! Nothing happens in this but, to be fair, there’s more of a plot than the mumblegore stuff. The performances are good, especially from Joel Edgerton’s son in the movie (Kelvin Harrison Jr). But. But. Ugh. I don’t know. If someone here did like this, I’d genuinely be interested to hear why. Because maybe I’m missing something since, for a horror, it has a decent IMDb user rating as well (6.2). I’m really annoyed with the shitty movies I wasted time on in March. I have too many other things to do. – 4.5/10

Demolition Man – Wow. This movie is absolutely dreadful. Like Teen Witch, this one passed me by for some reason even though I was just out of high school & watching this kind of crap. I’m actually shocked at how bad it is. Not “so bad it’s good”. Just plain BAD. I thought I’d finally be watching some kick ass 90’s action flick like Speed or something (a good Sandra Bullock movie!). I had no idea this was a cheesy “comedy”. Not gonna lie, though – I fell asleep. I saw maybe 40 minutes. In five years of blogging, I’ve forced myself to finish every movie I watch no matter how shitty. No more! I don’t have the time. This movie broke me. I can’t continue. I just can’t. – Not Rated As I Refuse To Finish It

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – This book was pretty great! I’d never ever heard of this series until seeing the movie adaptation listed on IMDb, currently scheduled for a December 2018 release. Here’s the synopsis: “Many years after the “Sixty Minute War,” cities survive a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.” Cities on wheels “eating” smaller cities. That’s nuts! I love the concept. And in this first book, the focus is on the city of London. The movie appears to have Peter Jackson involvement and will be directed by someone who did the visual effects for a lot of his films (Christian Rivers). I’m really looking forward to the movie. If done right, it could be great. As for the book, I’ll try to do a separate full review of it before the movie. It’s a “kids book” but aimed at the same sort of age range as Harry Potter. It’s one of the more entertaining books I’ve read in a while. – 4/5

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) comes out in UK cinemas this Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me! – 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan – Again, this is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines, I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though. – 3/5

Annnnnd…. I’m still in the middle of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King. I’ll finish it someday!

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Grey’s Anatomy – It’s shit.

The Walking Dead – It’s even more shit than Grey’s Anatomy.

I seriously need to get back onto the Black Mirrors. Or find some reruns of The Golden Girls or something! TV sucks now.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Again, not much! I just plan to review my monthly Blind Spot movie (Citizen Kane or Enter The Dragon) & any films I see in the cinema.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

A Quiet Place – Ohhh – a horror movie with excellent reviews?! I’m super excited for this & will try to go to it this weekend. However, It Comes At Night also had great reviews & it was shit. So who knows! Horror is very subjective.

Love, Simon – Definitely going to this as well as I really enjoyed the book.

Thoroughbreds – This looks interesting. Kind of Heathers-like maybe?? (But of course nothing can top that). May try to catch this one and try to not be upset at yet again seeing Anton Yelchin in a movie (RIP – I really liked him).

I Kill Giants – Liked the sound of this but some are saying it’s too similar to and not nearly as good as A Monster Calls.

Ghost Stories – Supernatural short stories?? SO my type of thing! But since reviews are now meh, I may wait for Netflix.

Wonderstruck – Based on a book by the same guy who wrote Hugo, which I loved as a movie. Wondering if it’s a good family movie to take the kid to…

Tully – Diablo Cody & Jason Reitman? I’m, like, the exact target audience for this. I’m very likely to check this out. I loved Juno.

Every Day – As I said above, the book is okay but the movie has meh reviews so far. I’ll watch it but may wait for Netflix.

Wildling – What IS this?! Another horror movie with fantastic reviews?!?! Liv Tyler & Brad Dourif????? I’m extremely curious about this one!

Avengers: Infinity War – Yeah. I’ll go to it. Of course. But I’m bored with superheroes. I’ll mainly be watching it for sexy Thor and all the Guardians Of The Galaxy characters! THOSE I love.

Will Wait To Watch On Netflix If I Can Be Arsed With These:
The Hurricane Heist, Rampage, Truth Or Dare, The Titan, The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society

Now, here’s a small taste of what you’ll experience if you ever watch Teen Witch: 😉

Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2018

Well, it’s now March and the Oscars were last night. I hope they announced the correct winners this year! (I have no idea since I’m writing this before the Oscars… I hope Blade Runner 2049 won some stuff). I hope something got fucked up, though. That wrong Best Picture announcement was hilarious.

**Update to say I watched I, Tonya just before the Oscars. Loved it. Would love to see wins for the actresses! I’ll review it later this week.**

Let’s see how I wasted February…. I watched more movies than I realized.

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

The Shape Of Water – 8/10
Lady Bird – 7.5/10
The Greatest Showman – 7.5/10
Darkest Hour – 7.5/10
Good Time – 7/10
Gleaming The Cube – 6.5/10
Black Panther – 6.5/10
Kong: Skull Island – 6/10
The Cloverfield Paradox – 5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

The Shape Of Water – 8/10
Lady Bird – 7.5/10
The Greatest Showman – 7.5/10
Darkest Hour – 7.5/10
• The King’s Speech – 7.5/10 (This is in the IMDB Top 250 so I’ll do a full review at some point. I watched it after liking Darkest Hour.)
Good Time – 7/10
Black Panther – 6.5/10
Kong: Skull Island – 6/10
The Cloverfield Paradox – 5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

• You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames: This is an extremely short novel (under 100 pages and the book is quite tiny). So it’s worth a read as it won’t take you long! The story is very straightforward but you get a small glimpse of the main character’s unhinged mind (played by Joaquin Phoenix in the film adaptation). I have to say this will probably be a case of the movie improving on the book and I can see Phoenix truly being able to delve into the depths of a damaged mind in a way the short story was unable to. I’ll wait for Netflix, though, as the hammer rampages will be a bit too much for me to witness on film.

I’m still in the middle of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King. It’s very very long, so I’m taking a break. I’m currently reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli before the movie (Love, Simon) comes out next month.

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Well, Grey’s Anatomy has started up again so I half watch that shit while playing on my phone. And, of course, The Walking Dead has started up again too. Why do I still watch that?! This mid-season premiere had the most pointless death yet. I don’t know if they can ever turn things around again. I’m bored with this show.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Nothing. Too busy! But I plan to keep watching movies…

Upcoming Movies I Want To See (by UK release date):

Game Night – This looks fun & fairly original. Will try to make it to see this one.

Gringo – Not really my type of genre but some big names in this & the trailer looks okay. One I’ll probably watch on Netflix, though.

You Were Never Really Here – Will watch this as I read the book but it will be a Netflix watch for me since I’m a wuss with violence. I can hide my face behind a pillow whenever Joaquin grabs his hammer.

Annihilation – Really liked this book & cannot WAIT for the film after the rave reviews. Wish I could see it on the big screen but, since society sucks & only watches shit like Fifty Shades, this is going straight to Netflix in the UK in a couple of weeks. Screw you, society!

A Wrinkle In Time – Was really hoping to read this book with my kid before the movie but she doesn’t seem bothered. Maybe I’ll quickly read it by myself. I have to say that the movie looks a little cheesy in the trailer (the costumes more than anything). But maybe that’s what they look like in the book. Dunno!

Pacific Rim Uprising – Braindead popcorn movie. I did enjoy the first one. If this gets really horrible reviews, though, I’ll wait & watch it at home.

Unsane – Don’t know much about this but am intrigued by a Steven Soderbergh horror/thriller….

Ready Player One – This was my most anticipated movie of 2018 as I love Spielberg & love the 80s & thoroughly enjoyed the book. I have to say that I don’t like the look of this one so much after the newest trailer & posters. I think too much has been changed, especially things that were a secret until the end of the book now clearly being known from the start. I’m now worried about liking this film. Damn.

The “Meh, maybe on Netflix if I can be bothered” movies:

Red Sparrow, A Fantastic Woman, Monster Family, Mum & Dad, Wonder Wheel, Tomb Raider, The Square, Mary Magdalene, Peter Rabbit, Proud Mary, Isle Of Dogs, Blockers

Watched, Read, Reviewed: January 2018

Happy February! YES, January is over!!! (I hate January). And since movies cheer me up, I watched quite a few during the darkest & dreariest month of the year. Here’s what I watched…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED THIS MONTH (ranked best to worst):

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriMy Rating: 8/10
The French ConnectionMy Rating: 7.5/10
CocoMy Rating: 7.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED THIS MONTH (ranked best to worst):

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – I really liked this movie & it’s easily my favorite of Martin McDonagh’s films. It’s also my favorite of the three Best Picture nominees I’ve seen (this, Darkest Hour & Get Out) but I’m hoping to see a few more before the Oscars. My Rating: 8/10

Colossal – I actually kind of loved this movie. No, not kind of. I did love it. Not what I was expecting as Anne Hathaway annoys me! I’ve already posted My Top Ten Movies Of 2017 list so won’t amend it but Colossal would be in the Top Ten (I’d put it at 8 after Gerald’s Game & before Thor: Ragnarok). THIS is the type of movie that I want to see. Something truly original. I’m sooo sick of all the remakes & reboots & superheroes. I highly recommend this one to fellow bloggers who are sick of seeing the same old predictable shit all the time. My Rating: 8/10

Coco – I’ve already reviewed this so I’ll say it’s another lovely film by Pixar but sadly not my favorite from the brilliant studio. My Rating: 7.5/10

Citizen Kane – This is a 2018 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full at some point. Hoped to love it more. My Rating: 7.5/10

Mudbound – Yikes. A hard watch. This is a Netflix original that I admit to only watching because it got some Oscar nominations. I’m not good with heavy dramas as I often find them too upsetting, especially if they’re true stories or something that could realistically have happened. The movie itself is just okay – I was very bored for the first half. But the characters and acting are very strong and I immediately loved the characters played by Garrett Hedlund & Jason Mitchell, two soldiers who become friends after returning home from WWII and have to deal with the extreme racism of the time. I knew it would all go to shit and I got very emotional & couldn’t watch the screen at one point (Sorry – trying to avoid spoilers but you’ll know when watching it that it’s all leading up to something bad). This is why I don’t watch many realistic dramas. I like to use movies as escapism from all the shit in the world. But I can say this movie certainly does its job in making you feel for these characters (as well as feeling an extreme hatred toward others – I was fucking angry). It’s worth watching for the performances as long as you know it’s a heavy drama but it’s slow going at first and is overlong. I was only really interested in the friendship forming between the two soldiers – the movie dragged when spending time on Jason Clarke’s & Carey Mulligan’s boring characters. My Rating: 7/10

Ghost In The Shell (2017) – I watched the original anime film last year as a Blind Spot movie (review HERE) and thought it was pretty damn fantastic. Of COURSE this doesn’t even come close to the original but, as far as dumbed-down Hollywood versions of classics go, I’ve seen far worse than this one. It had some great visuals (taken directly from the original) and was well-paced and entertaining in that braindead blockbuster type of way. It was disappointing that they dumbed it down, especially at the end as it started off fairly promising. But, hey – that’s Hollywood for you. Just please watch the original before watching this! My Rating: 6.5/10

The Big Sick – A solid film about a real couple with funny moments but far more drama than I was expecting. I was intrigued by the story (it’s quite an interesting relationship story!) but it was very slow to start and felt a little long. Well-written and worth a one-time watch. My Rating: 6.5/10

The Red Turtle – I’m a huge Studio Ghibli fan so was really looking forward to this co-Ghibli production. It’s a sweet & lovely film but, unlike my beloved Ghibli movies that I could watch over and over and over again (and have), The Red Turtle is a one-off watch for me. Kind of disapponting & a little bit slow. Sorry. I’m glad I finally saw it, though. My Rating: 6.5/10

Gleaming The Cube – Another Blind Spot choice (weird one, I know), I’ll review this in full at some point. My Rating: 6.5/10

Atonement – And another Blind Spot movie! I’m trying to get ahead. I’ll review this at some point too but I can tell you it was a massive disappointment. I kind of sort of hated it. My Rating: 6/10

Nymphomaniac: Vol I & Vol II – I have a slight fascination with Lars von Trier’s films although I don’t know if I can exactly they say that I’ve actually “liked” any of them. Maybe Melancholia. Nymphomaniac: Vol I & Vol II are by far my least favorites of his work that I’ve seen. I just didn’t see the point of these movies. To shock? I certainly didn’t give the slightest shit about any of the characters. If you want to see a film that’s a better exploration of sex addiction, watch Shame instead. And I’ve now seen waaaaaay more penises than I ever wanted to see. So, uh, thanks for that, von Trier. I guess. My Rating: 5/10

The Boss Baby – I watched this since it’s an Oscar nominee. Yes, this is the world we live in. Humanity deserves The Boss Baby. Because humanity sucks. Okay, The Boss Baby sucks but I’ve seen worse animated kids’ movies, which is a fucking scary statement. The Boss Baby is weird as shit but at least it’s, um, an original idea? I said something nice! My Rating: 4.5/10

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe – Why do I bother to watch modern horror movies when 90% of them suck? Like this one. I don’t know if I have the energy to again do horror movie reviews for all of October this year. If I do, I’ll review this piece of shit. For now, I’ll be nice again and say that at least this one also had a fairly original concept and going through the stages of the autopsy was kind of interesting. My Rating: 4.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

This month has been mega hectic so I’m still in the middle of the book I started in December: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & son Owen King. Enjoying it so far! It’s a thick book… I think my next one needs to be more lightweight. I’ll probably read A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle with my kid next in anticipation of the film adaptation in March.

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

Black Mirror – Season 2, Episodes 2-4 (White Bear, The Waldo Moment, White Christmas. Season 3, Episodes 1-5 (Nosedive, Playtest, Shut Up And Dance, San Junipero, Men Against Fire) – Clearly, I’m working my way through the Black Mirrors so I’ve watched no other TV shows. One left to go then I can finally start season 4!

As I’ve watched so many and would like to discuss each episode, I’ll do a full Black Mirror post once I’ve seen them all. For now, San Junipero is my favorite episode. I’ll also say that I’m really enjoying the show as it’s right up my alley. However, I find it somewhat overrated. Being a big fan of the original Twilight Zone, I think that was a far more groundbreaking show. Black Mirror just adds a more modern twist to the exact same morality tales as were in The Twilight Zone. Anyway! As I love to rank stuff, here’s my ranking so far (from favorite to least favorite):

San Junipero
White Bear
Be Right Back
Nosedive
Fifteen Million Merits
White Christmas
Men Against Fire
Playtest
The National Anthem
The Waldo Moment
The Entire History Of You
Shut Up And Dance

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Oscars Shit!!!

It’s that time of year! It’s like the Super Bowl for movie nerds! I love/hate the Academy Awards. They’re absolute bullshit and the wrong things win all the time but, fuck it, I’ll probably always watch the stupid show. At least there was some excitement last year with the wrong winner being announced. Best thing to happen to the show in years!

I don’t have any huge blog plans for the Oscars as I’m taking it easy on blogging. I’ll probably just do a post choosing what I want to win & what I think will win for each category. However, I do plan to try to watch as many nominees as possible since most are coming out in the UK over this next month. I’ll review any more Oscar nominees that I watch. These are the nominees I’ve seen so far (not ranked! I’m slacking):

(Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Get Out, Mudbound, Logan, Coco, The Big Sick, Blade Runner: 2049, Baby Driver, Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Boss Baby, Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Lou, Garden Party)

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Loads that I want to see this month! I can’t wait! In order of release date…

Winchester – Er. Damn. Bad reviews so far! I’d really liked the sound of this. May wait for Netflix now.

Black Panther – I’ll watch it but, as I’ve said many times on this blog, I’m superheroed-out. I’m bored. But this looks promising.

The Shape Of Water – The one I’m most excited about. Finally! Out on Valentine’s Day here. This is one I won’t be missing.

Lady Bird – Another big nominee so will do my best to see this as well.

I, Tonya – I’ve always been fascinated by this fucked-up true story. Really looking forward to finally getting to see this.

Annihilation – I read this book last year and really liked it so can’t wait to see how they manage to make a movie out of it (it’s weird). But I don’t know what’s up with this. Apparently it’s “too intelligent” for the general public so they’re planning to now not release it in UK cinemas? WTF?!? Give the public some damn credit! Oh. Wait. This is the world in which The Boss Baby is an Oscar nominee. Never mind. 😉 Supposedly Annihilation will be released in the UK straight to Netflix instead….

I saw Darkest Hour over the weekend so will try to review that this week. Gary Oldman is freaking fantastic. Give him the Oscar!

Have a great February, everyone!

**Oh, holy shit! The new Cloverfield movie is on Netflix! I am SO watching that ASAFP!!!!!** 🙂

My 2018 Blind Spot Choices & Blog Resolutions

Well, it’s Year 6 of my blog & Year 3 of me doing this Blind Spot Project where we make ourselves watch 12 movies in a year that we’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Most people choose classics but I like to mix it up with some random shit as well since watching 12 “worthy classics” sounds like a drag. Besides, I have my IMDB Top 250 Challenge for the boring stuff!

Having said that, though, I’ve chosen far too many worthy films this year (some of which will also double up with the IMDB Top 250 thing). Other than the below Christian Slater movie… Sorry – there’s no longer any excuse for me having never seen a movie starring one of my teenage crushes in my favorite movie decade (I’m sure it’s not great). I have to admit that I’m not overly excited about a lot that are on this list, though. Hopefully I’ll feel differently at the end of 2018 since they’re obviously critically acclaimed for a reason. And, again, I have several “alternate” choices due to possible lack of availability and/or time and/or depending on what the hubby will let me watch without him.

So here are My 2018 Blind Spot Choices:

The French Connection

Citizen Kane

Midnight Express

Enter The Dragon

Gandhi

Atonement

Fiddler On The Roof

Quadrophenia

Metropolis

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Gleaming The Cube

The Gold Rush

Alternates:

El Topo
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)
Once Upon A Time In America
The Right Stuff
Lawrence Of Arabia
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Paprika

2018 Blog Resolutions:

I already covered this on my big five-year blogiversary post but my “blog resolutions” are simple this year: To reduce the time I spend on this blog.

As much as I enjoy this online movie diary, I really need to focus on other stuff going on in my life. I’ll still log everything I watch in 2018 & do “month-in-review” posts where I’ll briefly discuss what I saw & read each month.

Here’s what I’ll still be posting:

Blind Spot Movie Reviews: One each month, probably toward the end of the month.

Reviews of 2018 UK cinema releases: I’ll still try to review all the current films that I watch since this is what people are most interested in discussing.

Monthly Recap Posts At The End Of Each Month: To briefly discuss everything that I watched & read each month.

Other than that, I’ll sometimes post reviews of movies I watch at home if I can be bothered or if they’re in the IMDb Top 250 or if one is so fantastic that I absolutely MUST tell you all about it! 😉 And, maybe once in a blue moon, I’ll
post a Top Ten list. People seem to enjoy them but I’m burnt out & need a break from them.

That’s it! I won’t completely abandon this place and I’ll still be on Twitter (it’s far less time-consuming but also full of angry people who stress me out). I wish you all a wonderful 2018!

Last week I posted all my 2017 Year-End Lists:

IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update: Only 50 Left To Go

My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

My Top Ten Books Read In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Of 2017

Watched, Read, Reviewed: December 2017

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

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

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

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

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

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

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst)

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

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

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

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

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

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

Watched, Read, Reviewed: November 2017

I’m again starting up a month-in-review post as I can’t find the time lately to do full movie reviews but would still like to at least briefly discuss the things I’ve seen & read each month. Here’s a quick look at the month of November…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Only one movie reviewed this month due to lack of time:

The Untouchables, which was my November 2017 Blind Spot choice. Great film! Glad I finally watched it. My Rating: 8/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

• The French Connection – This is a Blind Spot 2018 choice of mine & I decided to get a head start by watching it now. It’s good but not as good as I was expecting. I definitely preferred The Untouchables. I’ll review this film in depth in January after posting my full list of 2018 Blind Spot films… My Rating: 7.5/10

• Moonlight – This was good. Was it “All-time classic, Oscar-worthy” good? Not really. It’s probably the best of the nominees, though, as it was weak year (La La Land is overrated). Mahershala Ali was very good & had a “presence” that not all actors have. I’m glad he won the Supporting Actor Oscar but was disappointed to find it was quite a small role. I’m also glad that Naomie Harris didn’t win as I feel that exact same sort of role has been played far better in countless other films. I really liked the character of Kevin (especially adult Kevin), who is the one & only friend of the main protagonist, Chiron. But it was very hard to feel a connection to Chiron, played by three actors in three stages of life, due to his traumatic childhood making him extremely shy and reserved. I felt sympathy for him but couldn’t feel much more than that as we never really got to “know” him. Moonlight is a good film but it wasn’t as emotionally powerful as I was hoping. It did pick up in the final half hour or so and I really liked the ending. I think it’s a better film and that the emotions felt much more genuine than in Manchester By The Sea, which I watched as a double feature with this (what a fun time that was!). But this is also one of those “heavy Oscar dramas” that I’ll probably only watch once then never again. My Rating: 7/10

• Manchester By The Sea – Hmm. This was okay but it felt a little contrived. I don’t do well with heavy dramas but I especially struggle with ones that don’t come across as fully genuine. I was surprised to find there was a bit of a dark humor throughout the film, especially with how Casey Affleck & his nephew (Lucas Hedges) interacted, which was a welcome relief from all the depressing drama! Hedges was fun to watch as a pretty typical & well-liked teenage boy. Affleck did well as a seemingly emotionless man whose tragic past has forever completely changed who he is as a person. When you find out why, f*^k…. No one should have to go through that and your heart breaks for him while, at the same time, you kind of hate him. And then, of course, it sounds like he may not be the nicest guy in real life. And then you get really annoyed and try to just think of this as the fictional movie that it is. Holy shit it’s depressing. At least Moonlight felt a little more hopeful, I guess. My Rating: 7/10

• Jackie – Erm. I’m sorry but I was thoroughly bored while watching this, which I certainly hadn’t been expecting. I’m terrible when it comes to anything to do with history (it was always my least favorite subject in school) and I truly knew nothing about Jackie O. And, after watching this movie, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing. I know that Portman was supposedly very good only because that’s what people said. Did Jackie really sound like that??? Bizarre. I just found it very difficult to care, which is quite a feat as you’d think such a traumatic true story would create a very sympathetic character. I don’t know. Sorry! I just thought this was a truly weak film considering its powerful potential. My Rating: 6/10

• Sing – Ugh. Sing was shit. I know it’s not Disney or Pixar so I had pretty low expectations anyway. But… Sheesh. I wish they’d stop pumping out crap like this. Kids are smart. They want better than this! My Rating: 4.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst):

• Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – I read this as it’s being made into a television series by HBO & starring my girl crush Amy Adams. Gillian Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which I reviewed HERE and which I liked okay despite thinking it was a bit f*^ked-up. Holy hell… Gone Girl ain’t got nothing on Sharp Objects!!! These may be the most f*^ked-up characters EVER. And I kind of enjoyed the book. It’s so seriously f*^ked-up and over-the-top that I ended up quite entertained. I guess. I’m not sure if you can take that as a recommendation or not… 😉 My Rating: 3.5/5

• Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – I read this as it’s supposedly going to be made into a film by one of my favorite directors, Richard Linklater. It’s an odd book, told mostly through e-mails and letters between characters. It’s about a teenage girl whose eccentric mother, Bernadette, goes missing. Bernadette is indeed an intriguing character and I can see why Linklater would be interested in putting her on the big screen. I found it very hard to get into this book & its storytelling style, though. The characters are fun but you’d probably either love this book or hate it depending on if you buy into the characters or not. My Rating: 3/5

• The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson – This is a Young Adult novel about a teenage girl whose older sister dies unexpectedly. Again, I read this as it looks like they’re planning on making it into a movie but there are no specific details yet. I thought the story handled grief quite well and that the characters were strong but it’s very much a “YA” novel so won’t be for everyone. My Rating: 3/5

Currently Reading: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt – This will be a 2018 Western film starring John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix & Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m struggling to get into this one…

TV SHOWS WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Black Mirror: Season 1, Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits – I’ve finally convinced the hubby to start watching these with me after I recovered from episode 1 (that was seriously f*^ked-up). My all-time favorite TV show is the original The Twilight Zone so I knew Black Mirror would probably be my sort of thing. I liked episode two a hell of a lot more than the first one and now can’t wait to continue. I loved the dystopian future displayed in episode 2 and, of course, the usual morality lessons that were done in the same way in the 1950s with The Twilight Zone (that show was SO ahead of its time!). Daniel Kaluuya, from Get Out, did a very good job in this (I wonder if this role is what got him noticed for that film). I really hope the rest of the episodes are as good…

Stranger Things: Season 2 – As with all things with as much hype as this show, season 2 didn’t manage to quite live up to season 1. I just sincerely hope they know when to quit with this one instead of dragging it out for years (like The Walking Dead!!! Ugh). What I did love was seeing these thoroughly likable characters again and getting to know them even better. I still like this show a lot and think that, if they make just one more season and concentrate on making it a damn good final season, it’ll be seen as a bit of a classic years from now. The story isn’t perfect but the characters and the style make it lots of fun.

• The Walking Dead: Season 8 so far – I’ve fallen behind & not watched the last two episodes that aired. Because I’M BORED!! This show started out strong but has gotten worse & worse every season. I’ve had enough. At this point I’m continuing just because I’ve watched it so long now that I feel like I have to see it through to the end. Meh.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

As December is the month from hell, I have no blog plans. Damn you, Christmas! I sound like Scrooge. All I want to make sure to do is review my December Blind Spot film (Wolf Children). But it’s unlikely that I’ll make it to the cinema to see any films. Other than THE ONLY film that MATTERS…

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Yeah, baby! I’m not missing this one. My ticket has been booked for ages. Can’t wait!!!

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle – Okay, I admit that I want to see this one. I love Jack Black. Since the kid wants to see it too, it’s likely that we’ll make this one a Family Movie Night.

Beyond these two, I don’t even have a clue what’s coming out this month. I’ve fallen so behind on new releases this year. So feel free to make any recommendations on movies I shouldn’t miss! 🙂

Happy 5th Blogiversary To Me

Yikes. Five years?! I honestly didn’t think I’d be doing this movie blogging thing for five years.

I want to say a huge thank you to the fellow bloggers who’ve dropped by in these last five years & had little chats with me on my silly movie & book reviews. I’m sorry I’ve been around a lot less this year and hate that it’s becoming almost impossible to spend any time on my blog or on the blogs that I follow. The whole reason for starting this blog was so that I could discuss movies with fellow film lovers since, in the real world, it’s hard to find obsessive movie nerds. You think I talk about movies all day long with people at work? Hell no! (That would be fun, though – where can I get a job like that?). So, thank you again to the special few who were here from the start and are still around and to all the lovely newer bloggers who’ve come along since. I feel like an “old blogger” now!

I always say I need to cut back on the time I spend here and I’ve done that this year but I’ll be doing it even more in 2018. I’d always kind of planned on quitting on my 5th anniversary but I’d miss the occasional movie chats as well as the one other reason I keep this thing going: to use it as a “movie diary” and keep a log of all I’ve seen & read. Because, as well as being a movie nerd, I’m also massive LIST NERD! I now have a record of every movie I’ve watched since 2012. Which is totally not important when the world is f*^%ing falling apart, right?! To psychoanalyze myself, I think it helps keeps me calm in the face of all the bullshit in the world. Or something. Nicely ordered lists! Nicely ordered lists could create world peace!!

So, I do have a plan to keep this blog going with a bare minimum of posts in 2018. I’ll focus only on reviewing 12 more Blind Spot movies (as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that project) and the 2018 UK cinema releases I manage to see. The main other thing I’ll do is bring back an end-of-month post so I can at least very briefly discuss all I’ve watched in that month. At the moment, the movies I watch at home are getting no attention as I don’t have time for full-length reviews. I’ve watched a lot of really good movies this year and am annoyed to have not even mentioned some of them (For example, I really liked an obscure movie called The Frame. Here’s the IMDb link. I believe it’s still showing on Amazon Video.)

With these blogiversary posts, I tend to do a “Year In Review” post since it’s close to the end of the year anyway. This time, I’m going to do a “Five-Year Review“(!!). One thing I can really thank this blog for is that I’ve seen some TRULY brilliant movies since starting it because of things like my IMDB Top 250 Challenge and the Blind Spot project. Knowing you’ll be writing for a blog kind of helps “force” you to finally watch the more highly acclaimed classics you’d been avoiding for no good reason. Plus there’ve been some damn good new movies released since 2012. SO GET READY FOR SOME LISTS!!!! Let’s see if these can create universal harmony.

Here are some ranked lists of my favorite movies I’ve seen & the best books I’ve read for the very first time since starting this blog in November 2012….

My Top 20 Books Read Since 2012 (No one gives a shit about books so let’s get this list out of the way first.): 😉

Top Twenty:

20. End Of Watch by Stephen King
19. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
18. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
17. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
16. The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker
15. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
14. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
13. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
12. Horns by Joe Hill
11. The Fireman by Joe Hill

Top Ten:

10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
9. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
8. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
7. Joyland by Stephen King
6. The Martian by Andy Weir
5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3. The Colour Of Magic by Terry Pratchett
2. Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin
1. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

My Top 30 Older Movies Seen For The First Time Since Starting This Blog (Movies Released Before November 2012):

Top Thirty:

30. Daft Punk’s Electroma
29. The Return Of The Living Dead
28. Million Dollar Baby
27. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
26. Escape From Alcatraz
25. Howl’s Moving Castle
24. The Last Unicorn
23. Ghost In The Shell (1995)
22. Ikiru
21. Natural Born Killers

Top Twenty:

20. The Untouchables
19. The Secret In Their Eyes
18. The Kid
17. Watership Down
16. Grave Of The Fireflies
15. Escape From New York
14. Battle Royale
13. Kiki’s Delivery Service
12. The Great Escape
11. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

Top Ten:

10. Road House (Seriously. How had I never seen this huge slice of AWESOMEBAD?!)
9. Rocky
8. Modern Times
7. Princess Mononoke
6. Akira
5. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
4. The Bridge On The River Kwai
3. City Lights
2. The Warriors
1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind 

(If you only knew how many times I flipped numbers 1 & 2 around…)

My Top 30 New Releases Seen For The First Time Since Starting This Blog (Movies Released After November 2012):

Top Thirty:

30. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
29. Your Name
28. Rush
27. Circle
26. Gravity
25. Robot & Frank
24. The Way Way Back
23. Baby Driver
22. Wreck-It Ralph
21. Edge Of Tomorrow

Top Twenty:

20. Train To Busan
19. The Wolf Of Wall Street
18. The Lego Movie
17. Ex Machina
16. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
15. It Follows
14. The Babadook
13. Predestination
12. Space Station 76
11. Sing Street

Top Ten:

10. In Your Eyes
9. Frozen
8. Blade Runner 2049
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. It
5. Inside Out
4. Guardians Of The Galaxy
3. Arrival
2. Room
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Yep – I can’t NOT have a Star Wars film as my number one movie released since 2012. I can’t wait for The Last Jedi in a couple of weeks!

As you can see from these lists, I really do have this blog to thank for my newfound love of Studio Ghibli & Charlie Chaplin. I’d seen & loved My Neighbor Totoro & Spirited Away before blogging but decided to watch all the rest of the Miyazaki films for a month of Ghibli reviews. I’d seen no Chaplin at all before 2012. I highly recommend his stuff to all true film lovers, especially City Lights & Modern Times.

Oh yeah! I also discovered a love of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, it seems. I loved The Dollars Trilogy (especially the music in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and Once Upon A Time In The West. Brilliant! Thank you, blog! 

The other two directors I’ve been trying to further explore are John Carpenter (I’d already seen the majority of his best films, though) and Akira Kurosawa. That’s why they have the only two films in the lists above which I haven’t yet reviewed as I want to devote an entire week (or month) to their work someday in the future.

Okay – it’s time for me to shut up. You all probably stopped reading halfway through my lists anyway. Ha! I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen in these last five years (I’m too lazy to count, although I do have them all listed year by year on my blog pages). But I’d say I average about 100 per year. So… Narrowing it down to 60 favorites out of 500 isn’t too bad! Thank you again, everyone! Especially those who made it to the very end of this post… 😉

Now, as I feel really bad about putting The Warriors in second place after originally having it at number one, I’ll end this post with the ending of the movie. Seems appropriate. All our lives deserve appropriate songs that play over our end credits. Hmm. That sounded a little morbid. Sing it, Joe!

Actually, I want Morricone to score my real life end credits…

TAG – Five Flaming Hotties

I was tagged by blogger MIB (of MIB’s Instant Headache) to participate in the Five Flaming Hotties blog game thingymabob. So here are the rules as that’s a requirement and I don’t want a kitten to die or something if I don’t post them:

– Mention the name of the blog you were tagged by, as well as the creators of this game Realweegiemidget Reviews and Thoughts All Sorts, linking back to all blogs involved and including the picture above.
– List five of your greatest hotties from TV and/or film, i.e. crushes/objects of your affection, including musicians or sports stars too.
– Tell us how you were “introduced” to them and why you like them/what appeals.
– Add some appealing pictures.
– Tag seven bloggers for their Five Flaming Hotties.
– Post the rules.

Well, I’m not going to tag people but anyone who reads this is free to participate if they choose to do so. What can I say? I’m more of a dog person anyway. 😉

I must confess that I’m old and not exactly full of lust for any famous people anymore (other than Chris Hemsworth). And, lately, it seems like we’re finding out that a bunch of them are disgustingly horrible people (although we probably suspected that already), which makes doing a list like this even more difficult. I’m already thinking “Oh man, I listed The Cosby Show as one of my favorite TV shows in an old post on this blog as well as posting a Kevin Spacey Top Ten. Am I going to have to go deleting old posts now that we’re finding out that Hollywood is nasty???” I’d probably have to lose half my blog content. Just make good movies & be good people, dammit!

Okay – I’ll pick five hotties & I sincerely hope that they’re nice people in real life. Because, although it sounds like bullshit, what turns me on the most is 1) Someone who is genuine & honest and who can be trusted (my biggest pet peeves are arrogance, phoney people & backstabbers) 2) Someone with a great sense of humor and 3) Someone with a brain and common sense (number three seems especially hard to find these days). I also like laidback people who aren’t full of drama. Fucking chill, people! I feel like the world is completely fucking insane at the moment. Seriously – I’m struggling to do this post because I’m too annoyed lately to be able to do something lighthearted & fun like this.

Okay. Shut up, woman! Let’s just do this Hotties thing. I contemplated putting both men & women in this list as I find a lot of women very beautiful although I’m not attracted to them. But I’ll stick to men since that’s my thing. Unless they’re assholes – I’m not one of those girls who likes the mean guys. Instant turn off!

Wait. You know what? I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to list fictional movie characters I like based on personality as well as looks. I need to know a guy isn’t an asshole before I can decide if I actually find him attractive and that’s the honest truth. Fictional characters can’t let me down! Lloyd Dobler will forever be nothing but a sweetheart. So here we go…

5. Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles. Played by Michael Schoeffling.

As far as looks only, Jake Ryan was my ideal hunk as a teen. Brown hair, brown eyes, perfect face (although, looking at him now, he seems a bit too “handsome dull”). He’d have been higher on this list at one point but, although he was sweet to the nerd girl, his personality was a bit “handsome dull” as well. I’m also pretty sure that Jake Ryan was a meathead jock getting by on a C average and he didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor. So, he was really only “nice” & “handsome”. There’s not enough going on besides the good looks but I’d be lying to myself if I excluded him from this list. All girls my age had a huge crush on the completely unattainable Jake Ryan. (Because, honestly – there’s no fucking way that a “Jake Ryan” would like the quiet nerd girl in real life).

4. Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything. Played by John Cusack.

THE perfect (and, of course, fictional) boyfriend. And, unlike Jake Ryan, he felt much more realistic. It felt like he could be MY boyfriend. But Lloyd Dobler holding that damn boom box over his head ruined boys for me throughout my teens & early twenties. No one could actually match up to that. I know there are some very nice guys in the world but I certainly wasn’t surrounded by any in late 80s/early 90s Midwest America. My school had no Lloyd Doblers! We had asshole versions of Jake Ryan (minus the insanely handsome thing).

3. Kyle Reese in The Terminator. Played by Michael Biehn.

Where the hell can a girl find a cute, sensitive virgin willing to risk his life and travel into the past to save her from a killer robot? Is that really too much to ask? We all deserve a Kyle Reese! And a Dwayne Hicks who will try to protect us from aliens even though we’re kick-ass ladies who can protect ourselves from those bitches…

2. Mark Hunter (Hard Harry) in Pump Up The Volume. Played by Christian Slater.

Hard Harry was one of my absolute biggest movie crushes when this movie came out. I wanted to be Samantha Mathis in this movie & to make-out with sweet, shy, sensitive Mark BUT, at the same time, I identified more with Mark and wanted to be a female version of his quiet teen who came out of his shell while raising hell as an unknown pirate DJ.

Honorable mention: Christian Slater’s Adam in Untamed Heart. Where can I find a sensitive boy with a baboon heart who brings me Christmas trees?!?

1. Chris Hemsworth. In anything & everything. Played by a hot Australian.

Okay, sorry. He’s not fictional. But he’s so damn pretty. Look at him!!! I could stare at him all day. I’m so shallow. I was pretending I’m not shallow! To be fair, he seems like a nice guy. Like most people, I watch enough celebrity interviews to get an idea of what these celebrities are like (there are plenty I can’t stand). Hemsworth seems very laidback & is always sweet about his family. So I’ll assume he’s perfect and nice and funny (not sure about brainy, though?). And, as a bonus, he’s FLAMING HOT! 🙂 Oh, here’s my Thor: Ragnarok review. I sooooo love funny Thor…. ❤️🔥

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (Book Review)

The film adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s novel The Snowman is out today in the UK & out October 20th in the US. It was directed by Tomas Alfredson and stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons. Here’s my review of the book…

**Quick edit to say I wrote this review before the reviews came out for The Snowman movie. Ohhhh.. Reviews are NOT good!**

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
Norwegian: Snømannen

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
On a cold winter night, a young boy wakes to find his mother missing. The house is empty but in the garden outside he finds his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of the snowman that appeared in their garden that day.

As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. Is there a link between the disappearances and a menacing letter Harry was sent months earlier?

When a second woman disappears it seems his suspicions are confirmed. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf; a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity…

My Thoughts:

Murder & crime stories are really not at all my sort of thing but I’ve been spending 2017 reading books that are being made into films so I decided to give this one a try. I probably won’t go to the film but I’ll Netflix it at the very least, mainly because Michael Fassbender is a hottie. Netflix & chill with Fassbender! Oh yeah, there’s one other reason I decided to read this: I quite liked the film Headhunters, also from a Jo Nesbo book. Good movie – I recommend it.

As for this book, I’d have to say it’s a good crime thriller and had some inventive murders (if you’re the kind of psycho who’s into that sort of stuff). 😉 I didn’t realize it was part of a series: the “Harry Hole” series, following the life & cases of detective Harry Hole. I don’t know how necessary it is to read the other books first (it looks like The Snowman is the seventh). I didn’t feel like I was missing anything as far as the murder mystery went. I’m assuming it’s a case unconnected to others, although there were some references to previous cases. The only thing I felt I was missing was knowing anything about Harry Hole & his relationships with the other characters prior to this book, such as his ex-girlfriend & her son who were clearly a big part of previous book(s). I still enjoyed the story but suppose I had less of a connection to the characters than readers of the entire series would have.

If you like the look of the below trailer and prefer to read a book before seeing the movie, I do recommend this one. I’m not an expert on this genre but it’s a got a good murder mystery that keeps you guessing and I got to know the characters just well enough to start to care about what would happen to them. I’ve not rated it more highly since it’s not my type of thing but I’d think any fans of this genre should definitely like it.

My Rating: 3/5

The Snowman movie trailer (Fassbender is so hot…):

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– Blaze by Stephen King
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
End Of Watch by Stephen King
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Fireman by Joe Hill
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

**Currently reading I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

October Horror Month 2017

It’s that time of year again! That time when I think “I’m going to review nothing but horror movies every weekday for all of October!”. But then I get bored with it all by Week 2 and wonder why I try to make myself do these things.

Well! I make no promises but I’ve watched quite a few horror films in the past year & I’ll try to review what I can in October. I’ll be throwing in a few “thrillers” as opposed to full-on horrors plus I have a few posts (a couple of top tens & a book review) that aren’t exactly horror-related. But, for the most part, I’ll try to make this month horrific. I mean, all my writing is horrific anyway…

I’ll even give you a list of what I’m hoping to review. And it’s already ranked! Because I’m a nerd. 😉 From my least favorite to favorite, here are the horrors & thrillers I’ve watched in the past twelve months & I hope to review those I haven’t, starting on Monday:

Lifeforce
The Forest
The Neon Demon
Byzantium
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Girl On The Train
Poltergeist (2015)
Ghostbusters (2016)
Ouija: Origin Of Evil
Green Room
Monster Hunter
Mother!
Alien: Covenant
The Watcher In The Woods
Split
The Witch
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Get Out
The Wailing
Pontypool
Before I Wake
Coherence
The Gift
The Final Girls
Hausu
Train To Busan
It

End Of Watch by Stephen King (Book Review)

Welcome to Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related these next five days. One book review, two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my review of his novel End Of Watch.

End Of Watch by Stephen King (Part III of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the ‘Mercedes Massacre’ when a queue of people was run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield.

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways …

My Thoughts:

I previously reviewed the first two books in this trilogy: Mr. Mercedes (HERE) & Finders Keepers (HERE). The first book is still the best but I enjoyed this final book much more than the one in the middle, which didn’t feature enough of our main Mr. Mercedes characters. It was good to again have Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney & Jerome Robinson as the stars of this one. Oh, and Brady Hartsfield, of course. The wanker.

I love King most when he’s doing his “supernatural thing”. Give me the weird stuff! So Mr. Mercedes being a straightforward crime novel wasn’t really my type of thing. However, he developed these really enjoyable characters who work so well together and it was such a good story that Mr. Mercedes is fairly high up on my list of my favorite King books (But does it make it into the top ten? You’ll find out on Thursday when I rank all 47 King books that I’ve read 😉 ).

I’d heard that this final book was a supernatural one so I was very much looking forward to reading it. I have to say that, yes, it was a little strange to go from crime drama to supernatural horror but I suppose King decided to end on what he does best. The story itself is fine. King has certainly had better stories within this genre so End Of Watch isn’t going to be one that really stands out compared to his very best books. I also felt that the story ended too easily & abruptly. We needed a bigger “end” (I won’t spoil what happens) to the story of Brady Hartsfield. He’s such a bastard, we needed a little something more than what we got at the end.

But the thing that has made this such a good trilogy, the characters & their relationships with each other, is done pretty well in this final book and I’m happy with the “end” we had for Bill, Holly & Jerome’s friendship. I’m especially fond of Holly, although she’s probably a love her or hate her character for some. What can I say? I can relate to her socially awkward weirdness! And she’s a movie geek – I gotta love that.

King doesn’t exactly do anything too unusual or original with these characters but you can’t help but like them. I know it may seem unrealistic or “contrived” sometimes but I want to like the characters in a story. If I don’t give a shit about the characters, I’m unlikely to care about the story. For example: I recently watched The Lobster & The Wave (the 2015 Norwegian disaster flick). The Lobster is extremely original and well regarded by critics while The Wave is a predictable disaster film. I far preferred The Wave, which spent far more time on its characters than you usually get within the disaster genre. I quickly grew bored of The Lobster’s quirk and didn’t care what would happen to anyone. I suppose that makes me mainstream. But so does liking Stephen King. I don’t care – I want to be entertained & King has managed to keep this fan happy for a good 30 years now. End Of Watch isn’t going to change the world or win any awards. It probably ranks somewhere in the middle of all his books if ranked on “quality” but, overall, this was a fun & memorable trilogy thanks to the characters King created.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– Blaze by Stephen King
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– End Of Watch by Stephen King
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

**Currently reading some more of King’s son’s work: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Stephen King Week At CPD

Hi all! Starting on Monday, I’ve decided to do a Stephen King Week on my blog. King turns 70 next week so I’m going to post something King-related Monday through Friday. One book review, two movie reviews (including the new It film), and two Top Ten lists. Unlike certain political leaders, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I hope to chat with some fellow fans next week. 🙂

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Book Review)

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents.

My Thoughts:

I read this as, which you may notice by my list at the end of this review, I’m reading books before their movie adaptations are released this year. The Glass Castle, starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson & Naomi Watts, is out today in the U.S. and October 6th in the U.K. I’m a fan of Larson, especially after the fantastic Room as well as Short Term 12 (which was also from the director of The Glass Castle, Destin Daniel Cretton). So, even though “true story dramas” don’t normally appeal to me, I decided to give this a read since I’ll happily watch a movie with this film’s cast. I didn’t expect the book to quite possibly be my very favorite that I’ve read so far this year. But, I think it probably is. What a pleasant surprise.

I liked the way in which Walls wrote her story. It’s very matter-of-fact and doesn’t seem to be passing judgement on her parents & the way in which they chose to raise their children. Like a lot of people raised in small-town American Midwest, my childhood was pretty straightforward (and pretty damn boring). Not rich, not poor, working parents, regularly attended school, followed all the rules & the “societal norms”, etc. The Walls family are unlike any I’ve ever personally known and I found their story fascinating. I suppose there are other nomadic families in America but it’s a world I’ve never experienced & can’t even begin to imagine. The Walls family moved from place to place all across America, sometimes homeless & living out in the open, rarely holding down regular jobs despite having the ability to work (including the mother having the qualifications for teaching) and despite the fact that their children had to dig their classmates’ uneaten lunches out of the trash at school in order to have anything to eat. I was often shocked by the horrendous neglect endured by Jeannette, her two sisters, and her brother (and amazed that these children were never taken away from their parents). However, as I said, Jeannette never really speaks poorly of her parents – she just tells her story in a straightforward manner without the need to embellish things. Their story is so outrageous that I don’t think you could make up half of the odd things their parents did. Yet Jeannette does still give us glimpses of the love their parents had for them, especially from her father through his many broken promises that I think he himself may have genuinely believed he’d keep even though his children knew he never would.

This is a hard book to describe without making it sound horribly depressing but it’s not really that way at all. It’s truly amusing and at times had me smiling at some of the bizarre things this family went through (like when they try to move a piano into their house). Jeannette’s parents, though they will sometimes make you very angry if you read this, are truly a couple of unique characters & free spirits. It’s highly unusual for me to enjoy (or even bother to read) a true story but, as they say, sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Do they say that? Hmm. Well, someone said that. Sounds like something Jeannette’s father would say. I don’t know if I’ve talked anyone into reading this but I do highly recommend it. It’s frustrating. It’s uplifting. It’ll make you angry. It’ll make you smile. It’ll make you shake your head in disbelief. You won’t know whether you want to hug or punch the parents (most likely the latter). But it’s also not soppy or trying to be some big tearjerker, which is the kind of thing that gets on my nerves. It’s just a well-written story of a girl who somehow managed to survive & to thrive after living a truly unusual childhood with two very eccentric parents. The movie has “meh” reviews so far & the below trailer doesn’t really blow me away (although I’ll still watch it). So, if you can, READ THE BOOK FIRST.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– Blaze by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Currently Reading: End Of Watch by Stephen King (book 3 of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Book Review)

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The story centers upon Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, who has been chasing after his adversary, “the man in black”, for many years. The novel fuses Western fiction with fantasy, science fiction and horror, following Roland’s trek through a vast desert and beyond in search of the man in black. Roland meets several people along his journey, including a boy named Jake Chambers who travels with him part of the way.

My Thoughts:

Another quickie book review! I figured I better “review” The Gunslinger since The Dark Tower movie is out now in the US (and out August 18th in the UK). Not many positive reviews so far, though! Damn.

Stephen King is easily my favorite author. I’ve read almost all of his books other than The Dark Tower series, which never really appealed to me for some reason. I got into King in my early teens (maaaaaaany years ago now) and I did read The Gunslinger early on but didn’t remember a thing about it other than that I didn’t really enjoy it at the time. Therefore, I guess that’s why I never continued. I hate re-reading books. Don’t know why. But I obviously had to re-read this one before I could continue with the series & the movie coming out has finally forced me to read it again.

I lie – I do remember one thing from reading it many years ago. Desert! Lots of desert. I remember the book dragging in the first half (in the desert). Reading the book again now, I wonder if I didn’t actually finish it as I remembered nothing at all from the second half of the book, which I found much more enjoyable. The story really picked up once Roland met up with Jake (toward the end of the long desert journey). I mean, I love King but a guy walking alone through a desert gets a bit boring after a while. Maybe I just don’t like stories set in the desert? Nah, that can’t be – I love post-apocalyptic desert landscapes (like in Mad Max: Fury Road or the book Wool). And I don’t mind long journeys (like in The End Of The World Running Club or King’s own The Long Walk or, you know, The Lord Of The F*^king Rings…). So. I dunno. Wow, I suck at reviews lately.

I think the main problem may have been that I didn’t really buy into the character of Roland Deschain. I didn’t like him (not that you’re meant to). He’s so stoic. Having to walk through the desert with that guy would be a total drag. I made him super hot in my head, though, so that helped. Oh! I did like the flashbacks to when he was young & being trained to one day fight to declare his manhood. The flashbacks & the time spent with Jake were the best bits (for me) and made up for the bits that dragged on a bit too long (like the time spent in Tull, although I liked his relationship with the woman while there). The “man in black” was a disappointment but I’m assuming we get a lot more of that story in the remaining books…

Well, I did like this book more than it probably sounds from this so-called review. I’m probably rating it half a point more than I otherwise would since a) it’s Stephen King & b) I can see a lot of potential for the remaining books. I’m assuming this first book barely even scratches the surface of this story. You really learn nothing whatsoever about Roland & the “man in black” and I found it entertaining enough to want to continue & learn more, especially about Roland’s past. I’ll read the rest. Eventually…

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– Blaze by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Currently Reading: End Of Watch by Stephen King (book 3 of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

Oh, and it looks like the Mr. Mercedes TV series is starting today on the Audience (?!) network in the US. So I don’t know how I’ll see that in the UK but I’d like to as I enjoyed the book (more than The Gunslinger). Here’s the trailer for the show, starring Brendan Gleeson, Harry Treadaway, Mary-Louise Parker, Kelly Lynch & Ann Cusack:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Book Review)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The Handmaid’s Tale is a 1985 dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government, the novel explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain individualism and independence. The novel’s title echoes the component parts of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which comprises a series of connected stories (“The Merchant’s Tale”, “The Parson’s Tale”, etc.).

My Thoughts:

I liked this book but didn’t love this book. I’ll be honest and say I knew nothing about it until the TV series started and, when hearing that the novel was “feminist dystopian apocalyptic sci-fi”, I was all “WHAT? That’s so my type of thing!!”. It’s a very good book. I can see why it’s a modern classic but I can’t say it’s one I’ll ever call a favorite of mine.

This is a novel that’s worthy of thorough analysis & discussion. You’re SO not gonna get that on my silly little movie blog! 😉 I’m happy to discuss it with any of you in the comments if you want but I think there are far better places online to find good write-ups of it. I would imagine that The Handmaid’s Tale is now studied in high schools (or perhaps colleges – Americans can be extremely uptight, so the sexual content would probably keep it out of high schools). Or… Is it? It should be studied & discussed, especially as it’s worryingly feeling more & more like a future that’s entirely possible in our lifetimes. I do remember when the TV series started & some people online were all “This show is obviously  anti-Trump!”. Ha! Hilarious. This show based on the book from 1985. Do these people not realize that seeing so many similarities between this book’s “fictional” dystopian future & modern day politics is scary as f*%k?!?!

I think it’s unfortunate, in a way, that this book has been labelled “feminist” as this term bizarrely has negative connotations to some people and would probably keep them from reading it. It’s a very well-written & important piece of work that deserves recognition alongside old literary classics (although I suppose that 1985 is now “old” – it just seems like yesterday to me since I’m so damn old myself). At what point is a modern classic no longer a modern classic? Okay – I’m old & depressed now. Where were we?

Oh yeah – Feminist dystopia. Don’t let labels keep you from reading this book if it interests you. Even Margaret Atwood doesn’t approve of this being labelled sci-fi & prefers to call it “speculative fiction” (I read that HERE at Wikipedia, where there’s an interesting bit about the book’s genre classification). Sci-fi does bring futuristic technology to mind whereas this book, although set in the future, feels like it’s set hundreds of years ago due to society’s regression. Once again, it’s scary as hell as it’s starting to feel like we may be headed in that direction.

As for this book’s overall “readability” (as in, is it at all enjoyable as opposed to just worthy), I’d say it has a tiny bit of that “They’ve forced me to read this book in school” thing going on. I don’t really mean that as an insult & I personally found the story itself entirely engrossing. The story kept me very interested and turning the pages but, unfortunately, I didn’t really care that much about the characters. Also, I’m not one of these annoying people who require an explanation for EVERYTHING but you really don’t find much out in this book. Whatever happened to cause this apocalyptic(?) future is never fully explained and things from the past are only hinted at through the vague thoughts of Offred, our main character. I felt like we didn’t really get to know her, which made it hard to connect with her. Although I know that’s kind of the point as any kind of emotion must be hidden & she’s living her life in constant fear. Atwood also has an odd sort of writing style, which I think further made it slightly difficult to fully connect with the book. Fantastic concept & great story but a book I can’t say I loved since I didn’t have much of a connection with the characters.

As for the current TV series, I did watch the first episode after finishing the book. Rubbish. I won’t be continuing. Sorry to anyone who’s a fan of the show but, if you’ve not read the book, I definitely recommend it over what I’ve seen of the show. Long, drawn out scenes for zero reason other than to appear “deep & brooding”.  Added violence that was not in the book (what was done to Janine didn’t happen in the book). And the episode ends with, I think, a final line that is, very importantly, never said in the book. Why?!?! After that, I knew I couldn’t continue. They’re clearly going to change too much & piss me off. And now, hearing there’s a SECOND season?!? Piss off. Don’t milk it. End it where it’s meant to end. Pffft. Adaptations annoy the hell out of me sometimes. Skip the show & go straight to the book with this one.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– Blaze by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Now currently reading: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

Which Movie(s) Should I Review? (Two Polls!)

Hi all! I’m really slacking on writing movie reviews this year. So, when that happens, I decide to make a poll instead. Because I’m a procrastinator!

Below are the movies I’ve watched in the past few years but never got around to/didn’t feel like/couldn’t be bothered reviewing. I’ll probably do them as “quickie threesome” reviews but was curious which ones people would be most interested in hearing about. You can vote for as many choices as you like (if I set this poll up right… Who knows!).

Also, I’d like to do a themed week again (or month). I’ll be honest: If I do, it’ll be in 2018. But I’m wondering which of the choices below sound the most fun/entertaining/not-too-boring.

I do plan to review the below films soon, though, so I’ve not added them to the poll:

The Frame (2014) (fantastic! deserves recognition, which is why I’ll review it)
The Beguiled (1971) (good)
Hell Or High Water (good)
Okja (overrated)

I’ll still be reviewing 5 more Blind Spot films before the end of the year (I’ve watched The Raid & am halfway through Zodiac, which I’m struggling to finish). Also, as usual I’ve not reviewed any horror films I’ve watched in the past year since I’ll try to review them all in October (if I have the energy). But one of my favorite films I’ve seen overall this year is Train To Busan, which will definitely get an October review. Loved it! These are the horror reviews you might see (most of them sucked, which is why I may not have the energy…):

Monster Hunter, The Forest, The Watcher In The Woods, Lifeforce, The Witch, The Gift, The Final Girls, Pontypool, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Wailing, Byzantium, Green Room, Before I Wake, Poltergeist (2015)

So, I do still make plans for this blog even though it feels like I’m abandoning it this year. I should be around a bit more in the next month while life hopefully settles down a little! 🙂

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Book Review)

The film adaptation of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon comes out today in the United States. It was directed by Stella Meghie and stars Amandla Stenberg & Nick Robinson. I must admit that I really enjoyed this book and am annoyed about the three month wait to see the film in the United Kingdom (the release date is set for the 18th of August here). Here’s my review of the novel…

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The novel centers on 18-year-old Madeline Whittier, who has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), also known as “bubble baby disease”. Due to her condition, Madeline is stuck inside her house in Los Angeles, where she lives with her mother, a physician who takes care of her.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. But I must admit that it’s a full-on “Young Adult” teen book. I know plenty of grown-ups like myself who still read YA stuff and there have been some fantastic novels in this genre. Unfortunately, though, the Young Adult label has a somewhat negative connotation to it nowadays. This is probably partly due to the fact that there seems to be so much of it now. There wasn’t half as much of it around when I was a young adult myself. Man, I’d have especially loved the post-apocalyptic dystopian thing that is so overused in this genre now. 

What’s my point? I’m getting off topic! I think my point is this: don’t automatically assume a book isn’t good just because it has the YA label. Some feel very teenage while others are just really good stories that transcend any sort of recommended age range (is Harry Potter considered YA? I would assume so). And like them or not, The Hunger Games books don’t immediately make me think “ugh, teenagers!!!”. 

Some YA, however, is very teen and Everything, Everything is clearly written with its teenage audience in mind. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aiming to please your target audience. This would’ve probably been a favorite book of mine if it had been around in my early to mid-teens (although it would’ve been a very rare favorite in the romance genre as it’s not often that I go for a love story of any sort). As an adult, I can’t say this could now ever be a favorite book of mine but I did find it a very enjoyable read (easily one of the most enjoyable I’ve read so far this year). It has a fairly unique story, an unconventional romance, and a really likable main character. 

I think a lot of YA novels don’t always write convincing teenage characters, probably because the authors are usually adults. The characters either seem too grown-up or too childish and are often hard to like. I think Yoon got the right balance with the character of Madeline as she felt like a real 18-year-old with the hopes & dreams you’d expect from a girl who has been stuck in her home for 18 years due to having severe combined immunodeficiency. She was intelligent but not mature beyond her years and, most importantly (to me), she was very likable in a convincing sort of way. I do think that not enough attention was given to the other characters: the neighbor boy she falls in love with, her mother, and the nurse who cares for her during the day. We don’t get to know any of them as well as I’d have liked but I can forgive this as it’s not a very long book. Madeline is very much the novel’s main focus and I was happy with her character. 

I’m having a hard time explaining why I liked this one… I doubt I’ve talked anyone into reading it! But if you do really like YA novels (probably aimed more at a female audience in this case), this is one I’d definitely recommend as a lightweight but entertaining read. Madeline has had to find ways to keep herself entertained while being a “prisoner” in her own home so we get to see some fun drawings & doodles of hers throughout the book plus we get to read e-mails & instant messages between her and the neighbor boy she falls for. These gimmicks may not be for everyone but I like books that have this sort of thing as it makes it a bit more personal & fun to read. It also shows how Madeline has managed to maintain a sense of humor through her illness. Plus, as I said, I just liked the story/setup. It’s a topic I’ve found interesting ever since seeing John Travolta in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble (Ha! The 1976 TV movie… I totally just aged myself). Well, that movie was far from “good” and Everything, Everything has done a much better job of telling the story of a teenager with the “bubble baby” disease. Plus I really wanted to see what/if/how things would be resolved in this book. I will of course stay spoiler-free but the ending probably left people divided (and that’s all I’ll say). I liked it. I hope they’ve done a good film adaptation. 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Here’s the trailer for the movie (but I think it gives away too much of the story so skip the trailer if you want to know as little as possible…):

The books I’ve read so far in 2017, from least favorite to favorite:

15. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
14. Tape by Steven Camden
13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Circle by Dave Eggers
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
10. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

And I’m currently in the middle of reading Blaze by Stephen King (so far, so good). 🙂

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Book Review)

I’m reviewing the book The Dinner by Herman Koch as the movie is released today in the U.S. There’s currently no U.K. release date scheduled. The movie was directed by Oren Moverman & stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Adepero Oduye & Chloë Sevigny.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My Thoughts:

I liked this book but it’s probably not for everyone. I’ll avoid plot spoilers but I’ll tell you that none of the characters are very likable, which puts a lot of readers off (including me, usually). The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading, however, and it’s not a long book so it’s a pretty quick read. It might be worth your time if the plot synopsis interests you. However, it’s also the type of story that should work well as a movie so, if it’s a decent adaptation, you might want to skip the book. I’ll let you know if the movie does the book justice (if the movie ever gets a U.K. release date)! It’s a film I’m definitely wanting to check out as it’s one I feel could possibly improve on the book if handled well. The cast seems promising.

I liked the way the story was presented as courses instead of “Chapters”: Appetiser, Main, Dessert, etc etc (I can’t remember all the posh terms for all the different courses. Never knew there were so many courses to a fancy meal!). We slowly learn more & more about the four adults having this meal together while the story of the horrible act commited by their teenage sons comes to light.

I’m not going to say much more as the story is pretty straightforward and there’s not much more I could say anyway without spoiling it. I’ll say it’s a decent character study but doesn’t explore all the moral implications as much as it could have. By the end, it felt more shallow than I was hoping for. That’s why I’m hopeful for the possibility of a really good film adaptation as there’s some meaty material here for a really good set of screenwriters & actors to sink their teeth into. We’ll see. The Dinner isn’t as deep & meaningful as it could’ve been but it’s still an intriguing story told in a fairly original way and I’d say I enjoyed it more than several of the other 13 books I’ve read so far this year.

My Rating: 3/5

**Yes, I’m keeping a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year. At the moment, this is probably how I’d rank them (from least favorite to favorite). If you really want to know… 😉 I hope to review them all by the end of the year:

14. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
13. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Circle by Dave Eggers
11. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
10. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
7. The Dinner by Herman Koch
6. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

(And, yes, I’m focusing on reading books that have been movies/TV shows recently or will be very soon) 🙂

The Circle by Dave Eggers (Book Review)

The film adaptation of The Circle by Dave Eggers is out today in the US (there’s no current UK release date that I can find. Hmm…). It was directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly & Bill Paxton (R.I.P.). I’ll probably try to go to the film at some point, so will of course review that if I do. For now, here’s my review of the novel…

The Circle by Dave Eggers

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Fast, thrilling and compulsively addictive, The Circle is Dave Eggers’ bestselling novel about our obsession with the internet and where it may lead. When Mae Holland lands her dream job at the world’s most powerful internet company, she has no idea what awaits behind the doors of The Circle…

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books where I loved the concept & agreed with its stance that, basically, the Internet & big corporations (such as the one that Fincher’s The Social Network is about) are evil. Okay, yes – I’m a blogger and I admit that I love to tweet but I’d happily hop into a time machine to go back to the Eighties and live without this sort of technology as I think we were better off without it. The world is a dreadful place & we’re living in an Orwellian dystopia. But we actually brought this all on ourselves, which I think even Orwell didn’t fully foresee. Hell, even Orwell couldn’t predict something as absurd as the rise of the Kardashi-thingies & wannabes! 😉 I blame them for society’s devolution (enabled by the Internet, of course). But back to this book…

I bring up Orwell as The Circle is indeed in a similar vein to 1984. But dystopian novels are more popular than ever and this is yet another of many that come nowhere near that masterpiece. I was pretty disappointed with The Circle overall. I absolutely love this genre and, as I said, I fully agree with this novel’s beliefs so I did expect to thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, I’ve read 14 books so far this year (that’s a lot for me!) and this is possibly my least favorite. Damn. I didn’t expect that.

I found The Circle a bit too long & meandering. It started out okay but, by halfway through, it was becoming a bit of a chore to read as its lead character (Mae Holland, played by Emma Watson in the film) was becoming more and more and MORE unlikable. I think her character is the main problem I had with the novel as I always struggle to enjoy a book when I hate its main character. This can only very occasionally be made up for if the story is exceptionally good but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case with The Circle. I know the book’s whole point is that The Circle (the evil corporation in the story) is almost cult-like and that its believers follow blindly while the reader can see what’s really going on but, ugh, you just want to slap the shit out of Mae and knock some damn sense into her! I suppose Emma Watson is a good choice for the role in the film, though, as she’s seriously starting to get on my tits lately. But I’m hoping that the film will write her character slightly differently and give her some sense.

Well, I plan to check out the movie anyway since I always like to see how novels get adapted. Maybe they can actually improve on the book (it does happen sometimes). I still really like the overall idea behind the novel & its very obvious message even though I don’t think the story and its unlikable lead character do well to convey that message & the seriousness with which we should be taking it. I think I was just hoping for something a little more insightful and less obvious. The Circle doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know and I’m not sure if it was trying to be satirical or not but, if it was, it gave the novel an odd tone that didn’t really work. I prefer my dystopian literature to either be proper satire or full-on bleak, depressing dreariness! The Circle can’t quite decide what it wants to be but I do appreciate its effort to bring further attention to a very important topic we should be taking far more seriously. I think, unfortunately, the satire maybe doesn’t work simply because this book isn’t as exaggerated as Eggers may have originally intended. This story doesn’t feel like a distant future – it feels like it has already happened.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Here’s a trailer for the movie (as is often the case lately, I think it gives too much away):