Happy 7th Blogiversary To Me

Wow. Seven years of doing this blogging thing. 🙂

I’m not posting as regularly these days & plan to cut down even more in the New Year. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to post anything other than maybe my Monthly Roundups with mini-reviews of what I’ve watched each month. Because the one thing I’ll never stop doing is keeping lists of what I’ve watched. I’m a List NERD.

So, as the year is almost over, here are my current Top Ten Movie Lists For 2019 So Far. Will be interesting to see if they change much over the next month. Please please please let Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker be good enough to make the list…

These lists are from numbers 1 to 10 (just to be awkward as I usually count down to number one).

My Top Ten 2019 UK Movie Releases So Far:

1. Doctor Sleep – 8/10
2. Alita: Battle Angel – 7.5/10
3. Yesterday – 7.5/10
4. Fighting With My Family – 7.5/10
5. It Chapter Two – 7.5/10
6. Judy – 7.5/10
7. Hustlers – 7.5/10
8. Joker – 7.5/10
9. Rocketman – 7.5/10
10. Avengers: Endgame – 7.5/10

My Top Ten Movies Seen At Home In 2019 So Far:

1. A Matter Of Life And Death – 8/10
2. Yojimbo – 8/10
3. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10
4. Ip Man – 8/10
5. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – 7.5/10
6. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10
7. Wind River – 7.5/10
8. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10
9. Miss Hokusai – 7.5/10
10. The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince) – 7.5/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2019

Happy (middle of) November! As I did October Horror Month again this year, I only reviewed horror movies in October. However, I did watch some non-horror throughout the month as well. As most of my horror reviews were reposts & reblogs, I’m only listing those below that I reviewed for the first time in October. (The Princess Switch feels very out of place in this list!)

MOVIES IN OCTOBER

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10
Doctor Sleep – 8/10
Ready Or Not – 7/10
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10
Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10
The Legacy – 6/10
The Addams Family – 6/10
Shocker – 5.5/10
The Stuff – 5/10
In The Tall Grass – 4/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Yojimbo – I bought an Akira Kurosawa boxset years ago and have been meaning to get around to watching more of his work as I love what I’ve seen so far. Ikiru & Rashômon are brilliant and Seven Samurai is a masterpiece. Yojimbo is also in the IMDb Top 250 so I might review it as part of my Top 250 Project. I was hoping to instead devote a couple of weeks to Akira Kurosawa on my blog but I think my blogathon days are over. I really enjoyed Yojimbo, even though I’d already seen the same story in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars. Which, apparently, didn’t originally credit Kurosawa & the other writer Ryūzō Kikushima. Naughty! (There was a lawsuit). Anyway, both films are great as the story is so damn good. I of course have to go with Yojimbo as it’s definitely the superior film but can see why it was made into a spaghetti western since the story was just as perfect in that setting. I highly recommend Kurosawa’s films to anyone who hasn’t seen any. Maybe I’ll manage to review his movies someday but I sure I wouldn’t be able to do them justice. – 8/10

Doctor Sleep – 8/10

The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince) – As this is sort of a pre-Studio Ghibli film, I’ll try to do a full review of it at some point. I adore Studio Ghibli. This was made by Ghibli co-founders Isao Takahata (director) & Hayao Miyazaki (scene design & key animation). It’s a much older film, released in 1968 (17 years before the founding of Ghibli). However, it certainly shows the beginnings of the Ghibli style and has some of that great magical fantasy vibe that Miyazaki perfected in his Ghibli years. It’s not perfect but I enjoyed it and would say I liked it more than some of the non-Ghibli anime I’ve tried. I guess I just love Miyazaki’s style. The characters aren’t as strong as in Ghibli movies and it doesn’t have the beautiful weirdness of the Ghiblis but it’s a promising start and a fun story. – 7.5/10

Judy – 7.5/10

Joker – 7.5/10

Ready Or Not – 7/10

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10

Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10

Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10

The Princess Switch – This was fine. My daughter had watched & liked it so I agreed to watch it with her one night. It’s a wholesome chick flick that’s predictable as F*^K but it won’t do anyone any harm. My daughter was amazed when I predicted the ending within the first ten minutes. Poor kid – I told her that her mom just watches many movies so tends to know how these sort of plots go. She probably thinks I’m a pain in the ass. Anyway, I sort of liked this predictable cheese. We all need some predictable cheese sometimes. And I’m not gonna lie – I’m SO going to be watching The Princess Switch: Switched Again when that comes out. And if there’s a surprise ending that I don’t predict within the first ten minutes, I’ll want my money back. – 6.5/10

The Addams Family – 6/10

The Legacy – 6/10

Shocker – 5.5/10

The Stuff – 5/10

In The Tall Grass – 4/10

Re-Watched:

Wayne’s World – I’m not going to do a mini-review for this movie. If I ever do review this, it needs a full post. This movie is and always will be an all-time favorite of mine. It speaks to me. It’s from my era, set close to where I grew up, I love the same music they do, I knew people exactly like Wayne & Garth, and it’s one of very few movies that I truly find funny. Okay – and I am the female equivalent of Garth Algar. I was a metal-loving, socially awkward nerd who could never talk to my crushes. I had similar hair. And I still wear Converse at all times (well, outside of work). This is the movie that I quote more than any other. I think it’s brilliant and if you badmouth it, you’re on my Shitlist and we can’t be friends. Anyway – I watched this once again the other day as my daughter loves it. She also loves Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. YES! Believe me – she doesn’t just humor me as she dislikes plenty of favorites from my teenage years. I take it as proof that these two films are timeless classics. Yes, I’m serious. Wayne’s World is a comedy classic. It deserves more love. – 9/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Holy SHIT it’s never taken me so long to finish a book. It took months. What a slog. To be honest, it’s a good book. I suppose. At least, the story itself was good. It just honestly didn’t need to be so long. I wouldn’t have minded if the characters were more likeable but, after THAT many pages, you’d think you’d connect with or at least care about the main character. I can’t say that I cared although I did feel a little sorry for him & what he’d been through. His time in Las Vegas especially dragged. Good god. Luckily his friend Boris was highly entertaining, which helped keep me going along with wanting to find out what the hell was gonna happen with The Goldfinch painting. Apparently the movie was boring as hell too according to reviews. That’s a shame, as I think there’s enough content here to make a decent film. – 3/5

In The Tall Grass by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 2/5

Currently Reading The Institute by Stephen King – I’m really enjoying this one so far. I’ll probably be finished by the time this posts so I’ll review it soon.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Er, The Walking Dead has started up again. I watched an episode. Or did I watch two? Hard to keep track since nothing ever happens in this fucking show anymore. I know I need a new show to watch but don’t have the time to devote to anything new. What I miss are half hour sitcoms. Why don’t they make sitcoms these days?! I watch worthy enough films – I want lightweight TV so I can switch off my brain. But NOT reality bullshit. A good old sitcom like Seinfeld. Or Friends. Yeah, I like Friends – I’m not one of these anti-Friends snobs! Anyone have any recommendations??

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

November already?! Shit. I’m not ready for Christmas. It’ll be a quiet month on the blog as I’ll be too busy to do many posts. I’ll try to do a post for my 7-year blogiversary at the end of the month.

November Releases I May Want To See: (wow – a lot coming out!)

Brittany Runs A Marathon – Meh. Definitely one to wait for on Netflix.

The Aeronauts – This one looks… Odd. As in, it may be brilliant or it may be a steaming pile of shit. Can’t call it from the trailer.

Midway – War stuff. I’ll probably wait for Netflix. Never a favorite genre of mine, although I’ve loved a few war movies.

The Good Liar – Oh, this looks exciting from the trailer! I do love Helen Mirren & Ian McKellen. Proper ACTORS! Want to see this. (It’s out now. Damn – reviews aren’t good).

Luce – Don’t know much about this. Looks like it may be another one to wait for on Netflix.

Driven – Another one I don’t know anything about. Meh.

Le Mans ’66 – Is this seriously called Ford v Ferrari in America?? That’s a better name. Doesn’t really look like my type of thing but the trailer does look good. Want to see this.

Last Christmas – I’m not a big girly movie girl but do enjoy these kind of films when they’re decent. Plus this has the hot husband from A Simple Favor & Crazy Rich Asians. I’d be a liar if I said I had no interest in seeing this. Looks fun. (This is out now too and also has bad reviews. Damn!!)

Little Monsters – Another zombie comedy horror?? I’ll definitely watch this as it’s a sub genre I really enjoy. Sad to see the reviews aren’t the best.

The Report – I’m sure this will be decent but these kind of dramas are SO not my thing. I tend to only watch them if they end up being nominated for lots of Oscars.

Frozen II – Oh, I’ll definitely go to this. I happily admit that I still think Frozen is great. My daughter is getting to the age where she’s pretending she has no interest in going to see Frozen II. Think she’s slowly changing her mind…

Greener Grass – And another I know nothing about. I need to watch some trailers. It says it’s a comedy so, who knows? I hate most modern comedies.

21 Bridges – Cop drama? Again, not really my thing. Will see what reviews are like.

Judy & Punch – Maybe a Netflix watch.

Ophelia – Again, one for Netflix but would like to check out Daisy Ridley’s performance.

Knives Out – This is the one I’m most looking forward to in November. Hope it’s great! Love the star power in it.

Charlie’s Angels – Meh. May wait for Netflix. Give me Drew Barrymore instead!

Jay And Silent Bob Reboot – I’m middle-aged. I’ll of course watch this Kevin Smith film.

The Nightingale – A horror from the director of the brilliant The Babadook?? DEFINITELY want to see this.

I’ll end this post with with Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I thought Judy was a great film and I’m very glad I watched it.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) & For A Few Dollars More (1965) IMDB Top 250 Reviews

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 86 today! 🙂

My blog is having a Clint Eastwood Week (I reviewed Play Misty For Me yesterday). And I figured what better way to celebrate his birthday today than to review his famous Dollars Trilogy for my IMDB Top 250 Project as they’re all in the 250. Well, I already recently reviewed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (you can see that review HERE). I didn’t realize it was the “third” in the trilogy when I watched it first but it really doesn’t matter as the stories aren’t connected (they just have the same director & composer plus the main actor playing a different character in each). It was interesting seeing their “evolution”, however, as I think each film was better than the previous one. Let’s start by talking about the first in the trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volontè, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Joseph Egger

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

My Opinion:

I had no idea that this movie is basically the Yojimbo story by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima (but not credited at the time, apparently). That’s interesting – there are a lot of Kurosawa films in the Top 250 & I’m very eager to work my way through them as I love Seven Samurai. So far, I’ve watched Ikiru & Rashômon so I’ll make Yojimbo the next one (I’ll have a Kurosawa Week once I’ve watched them all). I really liked the story of a drifter playing two rival families off against each other so am looking forward to seeing the original & comparing them.

I get the impression that some people may slightly prefer these first two Dollars films to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. As I said above, I personally think each film got better & that the final one is the best but the first two do have much better pacing, less distracting voice dubbing, and stories that are easier to follow & that actually get right into things from the start instead of meandering along for almost three hours until reaching a fantastic finale.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the only one I’d call a “masterpiece” but these first two are also very good in a different way & are much more straightforward in telling their stories, which some people may prefer. There’s still a fair amount of time spent on characters standing around & staring at each other but it wasn’t yet to the extreme Leone went to in Once Upon A Time In The West. No, I’m not being a smart ass because I think that film is brilliant – the opening scene honestly contains the best staring ever committed to film. Here you go – the Once Upon A Time In The West staredown!

But back to A Fistful Of Dollars… I did find this the weakest of the three, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t really connect with or care about any of the characters (other than one family with a small boy) whereas the next film had a better revenge theme going on that I found more interesting & also had a good partnership that this one lacked. There’s plenty here for dudes, though – lots of fighting (with & without guns) and the usual amount of Clint Eastwood just looking like a stud while smoking & wearing a poncho. Eastwood IS very cool in these spaghetti Westerns, whether they’re your sort of thing or not, and has a great presence that not all actors manage (but is matched by his co-star in the second film). I now have less experience with his Dirty Harry movies than his Westerns but I think the Westerns suit him better.

This film does of course have yet another great showdown (as to be expected at the end of every Leone film I’ve seen so far). To say it’s the weakest of the three (or four if I include West as well) isn’t really a bad thing as all the Leone films I’ve now seen are fantastic & I can understand why they’re so popular even though this isn’t my favorite genre so I’ll never love them to the same degree as fans.

My Rating: 7/10

For a Few Dollars More (1965) (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

My Opinion:

Now… For A Few Dollars More was genuinely enjoyable! Don’t get me wrong – I think these Leone films are beautiful works of art and worthy of the praise & recognition they later achieved but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find them all a bit of a chore to sit through. Of all four I’ve seen, I’d rank this as the third best yet I’d also say it’s the most enjoyable overall in that it’s the only one that held my interest the entire time.

It’s a simple (if rather cliché) story of revenge but, hey – that’s what I want from a Western. The one seeking revenge is Lee Van Cleef’s character. And what a great character he is! It’s the only time another character felt as important as Eastwood’s (if not more) and I cared about his story. The two of them are fantastic together & have amazing chemistry onscreen. He was also the “Bad” to Eastwood’s “Good” in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but this was a much better role for him & I preferred their relationship in this.

Another thing that worked a bit better in this one than the previous film was the main baddie. He’s an evil bastard but also not quite right in the head & haunted by things in his past. He felt more developed than a lot of Western baddies. Actually, all the characters felt more well developed than usual (other than Eastwood’s but I think that’s always the whole point of his mysterious Man With No Name characters). That’s a big part of what made this film the most enjoyable – I can’t fully get into a film unless I buy into the characters & the story and this film did a good job with these elements.

Okay – I’ve not yet mentioned the Ennio Morricone score for either of these films. I don’t want to go on & on as I already raved about him in my review for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but, damn, the man is a genius. There were no specific themes that stood out for me as much as in that one but the music truly helps make all these Leone spaghetti Westerns. Without the scores, I know I wouldn’t personally rate any of these movies as highly. The score is as important to these films as is Eastwood’s character & Leone’s cinematography. They all work perfectly together & make these films far greater than they’d be with one of these three elements missing.

Well, I think I’ve said enough about these movies. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Westerns but the four Leone films I’ve seen really are something special & definitely have my appreciation as beautiful works of art. I do think that each movie got better & better with Once Upon A Time In The West actually being the best overall. However, I’d probably stick with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly being my favorite as I think the score as well as the final 30 minutes or so of that film easily tops all others & pushes it into the “masterpiece” category that I don’t like to use as a label too often (if you’re curious, I gave both those movies a score of 8/10). I highly recommend both of those films at the very least but, if you want to start a bit smaller, the first two Dollars films are more easily “digestible” & For A Few Dollars More is probably the best one for non-Western lovers as I think a lot of people love a basic story of revenge.

My Rating: 7.5/10