May 2021 has been another rather uneventful month. The weather has been horrendous, cold and wet for most, and the warm weather we have hoped for has been very sporadic.
It was our houseiversary last week. 9 years of having the keys to our lovely home! I still remember the moment I got the call to come and collect the keys to the house on the 25th. It was a hot, sunny May day in 2012. 2012 had been quite a year for me! David picked me up from my then work at the University of Liverpool before heading down to the Dock Road to collect the keys. We got home and opened the front door and stood in shock. ‘What do we do now!’ we thought. Buying a home can sometimes be rather anticlimactic but then a further year and a half of demolishing walls, an outhouse, getting a new roof and exterior doors is hard work! However it is all worth it in the end when you come home after a hard days work to your loved ones and fur/feather babies. I love my home and the life I have made with David! Long may it continue!
Last year before Covid struck and lockdowns were galore, Peter Walker’sPeace Doves were planned to be installed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. I was excited to see this beautiful art installation of thousands of paper doves with messages of hope and love written on them, suspended from the vaulted ceiling. Then the exhibition was cancelled due to Covid. However there is light at the end of the tunnel. The night doesn’t last forever! This May it was announced that the Peace Doves were once again coming to Liverpool. One negative of Covid’s social distancing is that it has taken away all the spontaneity out of life, one now has to book before going anywhere. Gone were the days when you just woke up and felt like going the zoo. You now have to plan/book days in advance! Anyway, (rant over) I did mange to book tickets to see these Peace Doves. The installation was beautiful and quite moving.
Which ties in nicely with the plants I have bought for the yarden. There were a few casualties during winter so I managed to purchase another salvia and forget-me-not plant to add to my spring flowering plants.
David and I have been watching a few films this month, most notably my favourite trilogy (save for The Lord of the Rings), How to Train your Dragon! I just love the friendship of Hiccup and Toothless. Who doesn’t love Toothless?
I have also caught up with the second season of ITV’s Innocent. The second series is based in Keswick with lovely panoramas of Derwentwater.
David managed to rescue three pigeons in one evening a few weekends ago. He captured and released one which had string around its feet and then quickly took in another two. One ailed sadly and passed away two days after but the second we managed to treat for canker and mites and she was so feisty that she had to be released and for the past few weeks now she has been visiting the yarden daily. It’s so nice to be able to help wildlife once in a while.
In the quite moments of life, I’ve been following an osprey webcam from the Dyfi Osprey Project. It’s quite stressful watching a wildlife cam, you invest so much emotion into it, however it’s been a privilege to follow the ups and downs of this osprey nest of Telyn and Idris as they raise their two young. Good luck to the two bobs!
Surprisingly, an adventure happened at the end of an uneventful May! The Spring Bank Holiday brought with it some lovely warm temperatures of over 23°C and David suggested we go on a day out. I had already decided where I wanted my first swim of 2021 to be and so on the 30th we were up at 6am on a beautiful clear, warm day and headed towards Snowdonia, Wales. We stopped off at two llyns during the day, Gwynant was my first swim of the year and Padarn the second!
I’ve finally managed to finalise my last post in my Year in Books challenge. I never set a target to read this year and I’m glad I didn’t as the last two quarters of 2020 were abysmal for reading. I’ve just not been inclined to read and when I have I’ve been easily distracted. I’ve a kindle chock full of books that I’ve bought but not attempted to read. Maybe 2021 I’ll be able to rekindle my reading passion? My total books read in 2020 has been 19. I hang my head in shame.
This was a very strange book. It had a good premise, if you knew the ending of a relationship would you still go ahead with it? But halfway through the novel, when the realisation had occurred, it just became a depression fest. For the reader, knowing the end of a novel half way through just doesn’t keep the attention. Only read this book if you want to be depressed.
I quite like the prose of Kayte Nunn and she is a new author I have discovered this year. I found the narrative easy to follow and the ending was satisfying. I’d read more books by this author.
So there you have it, my tally of just two books read in the last quarter of 2020. I am currently still getting through The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes but my reading is sporadic. I’ll finish it eventually sometime in 2021.
Have you read any good books lately, any recommendations?
I don’t know about you, but November has been an awfully long month! It’s been gray and bleak for most of it. I think this depression in weather hasn’t been great on our mental health. So curling up and watching films has been a sort of comfort blanket. Somehow the stresses and strains of life seem more hard during the dark winter days. Roll on the twinkling lights of December.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective ✩✩✩
Ace Ventura, a private detective, specialises in finding lost animals. When Snowflake, a football team’s aquatic mascot, goes missing, he is called to investigate.
Jim Carrey is his mad cap self in this comedy about a missing dolphin. Worth a watch.
The Nun ✩✩✩
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls.
A prequel to the Conjuring movies. Though I enjoyed the origin story of the demon Valak, it didn’t give me chills the other two films did.
When Dr Malcolm Sayer discovers a cure for an epidemic, numerous catatonic patients get a second chance to live. However, the cure eventually leads to more complications.
A sad yet inspiring movie, made all the more poignant as it was based on a true story.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ✩✩✩
A man living a dull life dreams up romantic and action-filled scenarios in order to escape from monotony. When his own job is threatened, he sets out on a real romantic and action-packed journey.
This Ben Stiller comedy wasn’t the best, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. A film to switch off too.
The Brave One ✩✩✩
After a brutal attack which results in the death of her fiance, Erica is traumatised. She decides to take the law into her own hands and track down the killers.
Jodie Foster plays a woman with a vengeance in this thriller. A bit dark but I enjoyed it.
The Cable Guy ✩✩✩
Steven befriends Chip, the person who installs cable at his new home. However, Chip wreaks havoc in Steven’s life when he rejects their friendship.
The crazy but lovable Cable Guy is a hilarious comedy, everyone should watch it once in their lifetime.
Dead Poets Society ✩✩✩
John Keating, a progressive English teacher, tries to encourage his students to break free from the norm, go against the status quo and live life unapologetically.
A rather sedate, depressing movie about the confines of society and how difficult it is to break from it.
Single White Female ✩✩
After her breakup, Allison places an ad for a roommate. All the applicants seem weird except for Hedra. However, Hedra has a secret past which haunts her and messes up Allison’s life.
Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the girl next door but her true colours soon develop when she becomes jealous of her room mate. Not a film that has aged well.
A simple plan ✩✩✩
While in the woods, upstanding local Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton), his dim brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and their friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) discover a crashed plane with a dead pilot, and a stash of more than four million dollars. Although Hank is reluctant to keep the money, Jacob and Lou convince him otherwise, and they devise a plan to split the fortune. Things quickly go wrong, however, dramatically affecting the trio and those around them.
Surprisingly not a bad film. I hadn’t seen it before. I liked how the plot spiraled out of control as the cast of characters grew ever more paranoid and greedy!
Donnie Darko ✩✩✩
Donnie Darko, an awkward teenager, befriends Frank, a figure in a bunny costume only he can see, who informs Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays the disturbed antihero in this indie movie that still has a cult following today. Gets better after each viewing.
Donna, a suburban housewife along with her young son Tad, drives out to the home where a perturbed St Bernard is driven insane by rabies. She must now save herself and her son from a brutal attack.
A thriller from the pen of Stephen King. I think this movie was probably scarier when it was released in the 1980’s, when rabid stray dogs were more prevalent on the streets, than today.
Annie, a jobless chef, is asked by her best friend, Lillian, to be her maid of honour. Issues evolve when she ruins the wedding rituals in a rage of conflict with one of the bridesmaids.
The rivalry between Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne is hilarious in this 2011 comedy.
Police Academy ✩✩
A group of misfits enlist themselves in a police academy. They embark on a series of zany adventures resulting in mishap, mayhem and mismanagement.
Are there any 1980’s films that have stayed the test of time? Police Academy sadly hasn’t.
At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
More silly Ben Stiller fun, this time with Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson satirising the fashion industry.
Rear Window ✩✩✩
Professional photographer Jeff is stuck in his apartment, recuperating from a broken leg. Out of boredom, he begins to spy on his neighbours and comes across a shocking revelation.
A Hitchcock classic. I really enjoyed this film. It may have been slow to start and the interactions between the cast a little dated but the tension and climax was thrilling!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles ✩✩✩✩
Neal, who needs to reach home for Thanksgiving, goes through a series of misadventures when his flight gets cancelled and he ends up meeting Del, a goofy salesman.
A really good movie, lots of belly laughs but this film has a real heart.
Bringing Down the House ✩✩
A man and a woman meet on the Internet. She is a prisoner. She escapes from prison and comes to his house. She then proceeds to wreak havoc on his middle-class life.
Not one of Steve Martin’s better comedy’s.
John Garrity, his estranged wife and their young son embark on a perilous journey to find sanctuary as a planet-killing comet hurtles toward Earth. Amid terrifying accounts of cities getting levelled, the Garrity’s experience the best and worst in humanity. As the countdown to the global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.
A good action packed, survival movie. It had me on the edge of my seat!
Mr. Destiny ✩✩
There comes a time in life, when people seem powerless and no matter what you try, nothing works. Something like that happened with Larry Burrows who was so lost in life.
Not the greatest film about pivotal moments in life and one man’s opportunity to live both.
The Breakfast Club ✩✩
Five high school students, all with different mindsets, face detainment in their school library on a Saturday morning. As time passes by, their egos fade and they become close buddies.
I hadn’t seen this movie and missed all the hype when it came out. However I didn’t think much of this teen angst film. Perhaps you think differently?
Filofax (Taking Care of Business) ✩✩✩
Jimmy wins a ticket to the World Series but cannot make it there as he’s serving his time in prison. He somehow manages to escape and takes over the identity of Barney, an advertising executive.
Filofax was an entertaining watch, I would recommend.
Face Off ✩✩✩✩
Sean Archer, an FBI Agent, undergoes plastic surgery in order to impersonate and get hold of his son’s killer and his arch-enemy, Castor Troy. Trouble brews when Castor begins impersonating Sean.
I love this film, it has everything you need, action, drama and emotion. An all round good movie!
Wild Hogs ✩✩
Four middle-aged friends decide to rev up their routine lives with a freewheeling road trip, but after a run in with a Mexican motorcycle mob, they are less than eager.
A predictable comedy, but watchable.
David and his twin sister, Jennifer, are transported into ‘Pleasantville’, a black and white TV show. The two must stay in character while completely changing the town’s dynamics.
I enjoyed this thought provoking film about racism portrayed within a black and white 1950’s TV show.
In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Megan panics when her boyfriend proposes, then, taking an opportunity to escape for a week, hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika, who lives with her world-weary single dad.
I don’t think this was Keira Knightly’s best film, cringe worthy rather than romantic.
Miss Congeniality ✩✩✩
Gracie Hart, a tomboyish detective, is made to infiltrate the Miss United States beauty pageant as a contestant after her department learns that the event is under threat from an anonymous bomber.
A likable comedy with Sandra Bullock as the boyish cop who has to infiltrate a beauty pageant.
National Lampoon European Vacation ✩
The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues.
Where these National Lampoon movies ever funny? Think they are a product of the 1980’s. This European venture didn’t raise many laughs.
The Christmas Chronicles 2 ✩✩
Kate Pierce, now a cynical teen, is unexpectedly reunited with Santa Claus when a mysterious troublemaker threatens to cancel Christmas – forever.
I loved the first Christmas Chronicles when it came out in 2018. However the sequel falls somewhat flat. A decent Christmas movie but nothing new to the series.
Oceans Eleven ✩✩✩
Danny Ocean, a gangster, assembles a group of eleven people in an effort to steal money from three popular casinos in Las Vegas owned by his rival, Terry Benedict.
This casino heist was a slow burn but once the plan was set in place it snowballed to a satisfying conclusion.
Apollo 13 ✩✩✩✩
Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert of the Apollo 13 moon mission find themselves stranded when their spacecraft gets damaged. NASA must now find a way to bring them back before it is too late.
Not as bad a film as I remember, full of drama and tension, based on real life events of the Apollo mission that almost ended in tragedy.
Oceans Twelve ✩✩✩
Within two weeks, Danny Ocean and his associates must return the money they swindled from a Las Vegas casino tycoon, Terry Benedict, or Terry will kill them.
A decent sequel with lots of big names. Though I have to admit the plot twists and turns confused me a little.
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?
I really need to get back into my blog, it’s been too long since I wrote a post! Here’s a First Line Fridays, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author.
Listen. Three miles deep in the forest just below Arnott’s Ridge, and you’re in silence so dense it’s like you’re wading through it.
Alice Wright doesn’t love her new American husband. Nor her domineering father-in-law or the judgmental townsfolk of Baileyville, Kentucky. Stifled and misunderstood, she yearns for escape and finds it in defiant Margery O’Hare and the sisterhood bringing books to the isolated and vulnerable. But when her father-in-law and the town turn against them, Alice fears the freedom, friendship and the new love she’s found will be lost . . .
Have you read this book? What were your impressions?
As the dark nights begin to draw in, it looks like David and I are aiming for a film watched per night, or so October’s count is suggesting! We don’t watch TV, so for entertainment we rely heavily on playing PlayStation games, watching films and endless streams on YouTube. Our go to channels are Harald Baldr and Simon Wilson, who both document their trips abroad. I think we are dreaming of holidays taken away from us by Covid restrictions!
Rocky 4 ✩✩✩✩
Rocky trains his friend Apollo Creed in a match against Drago, an indestructible Russian boxer. But when Apollo is killed in the ring during the match, Rocky vows to avenge his friend’s death.
I surprisingly enjoyed this offering from Sylvester Stallone. It had everything, comedy, friendship, love and loss and with a banging 80’s soundtrack, there’s not much to not like about this film.
The Social Network ✩✩✩
As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
I wouldn’t say this was a particularly exciting movie, but it’s worth a watch.
David, a businessman, passes by an old tanker truck in a dessert while travelling for a meeting. The driver of the truck is a psychopath who finds David’s overtaking offensive and decides to kill him.
This was Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad, brings road rage to another new level!
The Thing ✩✩✩
A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.
Kurt Russell is the no-nonsense talking hero in this John Carpenter film. It’s not aged well but the tension is all there and the puppetry for the mutating alien is good for it’s time.
They Live ✩✩
A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
Staying with the theme of John Carpenter films is They Live starring wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Pipper. A bit of a slow burn but not a bad watch.
Monsters Inc ✩✩✩✩
In Monstropolis, best friends Sulley and Mike are the top scarers working at the Monsters, Inc. However, their lives are hugely disrupted when a human girl enters their world.
I love this movie! It has the right amount of comedy, threat and emotion and Sully’s relationship with Boo is heart-warming. I definitely had a tear in my eye at the end.
Sam and Molly love each other, but their romance is short-lived when Sam is killed by a thug. Unable to tell Molly that her life is in danger, Sam’s spirit takes a psychic’s help in order to save her.
Another film that is bound to get the tears flowing. A brilliant thriller with an even better soundtrack.
An alien is left behind on Earth and is saved by young Elliot who decides to keep him hidden. While the task force hunts for it, Elliot and his siblings form an emotional bond with their new friend.
E.T. was the first movie I saw at the cinema. I remember going to see it with my dad. I was five and came home with a crush on Elliott (Henry Thomas) and a sticker book!
Toy Soldiers ✩✩✩
Terrorists, seeking the release of a South American drug baron, take schoolchildren as hostages. However, the captives fight back.
Before watching this film, I thought it was Small Soldiers of 1998 but this stars Sean Austin and is centered around a boys school overrun with terrorists. It was worth a watch.
Dog Soldiers ✩✩✩✩
During a routine training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of British soldiers expected to rendezvous with a special ops unit, instead find a bloody massacre with a sole survivor. The men are rescued by a zoologist who identifies what hunts them as werewolves. Without transport or communications, the group is forced to retreat to a farmhouse to wait for the full moon to disappear at dawn.
In my opinion, Dog Soldiers is one of the best werewolf films ever made. The cast are brilliant, and there’s enough mystery, threat and violence to keep you entertained. The make-up and werewolf design is on point.
The Birds ✩✩
Melanie, a rich socialite, follows Mitch, a lawyer, to his home in Bodega Bay to play a practical joke on him. Things take a bizarre turn when the birds in the area begin to attack the people there.
I think Hitchcock films are a product of its time, as I found The Birds, rather disappointing and boring. Yes, there is a lot of tension and build up in the first hour, but was I terrified? Not likely!
Josh and Renai move to a new house, seeking a fresh start. However, when their son, Dalton, mysteriously falls into a coma, paranormal events start occurring in the house.
I think Insidious is only scary on the first watch. by the second I wasn’t terrified at all and expected half of the thrills before they appeared. Still a decent scary movie though.
Dead End ✩✩✩
Christmas Eve. On his way to his in-laws with his family, Frank Harrington decides to try a shortcut, for the first time in 20 years. It turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life.
I thought this wasn’t a bad film. I sort of guessed the end but it didn’t detract from the shocks and laughs the drama on screen produced. I’d give it a watch just for the gore!
The Others ✩✩
Grace moves into a new house with her two photosensitive children in Jersey. When a series of inexplicable events occur, Grace starts believing that her house is haunted.
I found this movie rather pedestrian in its execution and the thrills and scary moments were few and far between. More psychological than a horror.
On New Year’s Eve, a giant wave crashes into Poseidon, a luxurious cruise liner, and flips it upside down. As the ship begins to sink, the passengers struggle to find a way to survive.
A film I’d seen before but enjoyed watching it a second time round. There were lots of action sequences and tension to keep me enthralled until the credits.
The Fog ✩✩✩✩
Folks get ready to celebrate the centenary of Antonio Bay. But, many had suffered due to crimes that founded this town. Now, they rise from the sea, under the cover of the fog, to claim retribution.
I never get tired of watching this spooky movie. One of John Carpenters’ better films. The story telling is at it’s finest. Though 40 years old, and looking a little dated, The Fog is one of the best ghost stories of all time!
Carry on Cleo ✩✩
After being trounced in Europe, Caesar dispatches Antony to forge an alliance with Ptolemy, who is squabbling with Cleopatra for the Egyptian throne, but the plan goes awry as Antony is captivated by Cleopatra’s asp, and together they plot Caesar’s downfall.
A watchable film but the jokes were very dated and I don’t think the youth of today would get it!
The Conjuring ✩✩✩
The Perron family moves into a farmhouse where they experience paranormal phenomena. They consult demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, to help them get rid of the evil entity haunting them.
I hadn’t watched this movie before. I enjoyed the storytelling and the thrills and liked the cast. Would recommend a watch.
The Witches of Eastwick ✩✩
Three single women in a village have their wishes granted at a cost, when a mysterious and flamboyant man arrives in their lives, to satisfy all their desires. Will good triumph over evil?
Oh dear, this film was awful! I think giving it two stars was generous. I’m not a big fan of Jack Nicholson, his portrayal of Satan just made my skin crawl!
Hocus Pocus ✩✩✩
Three witches resurrect after 300 years to exact revenge and begin a reign of terror after Max, a young boy who moves to Salem with his family, lights a cursed Candle of Black Flame.
An all round fun, family movie. Almost 30 years old but it’s still as good now as it was back then.
Practical Magic ✩✩✩
After the death of their parents, Sally and Gillian Owens move in with their aunts, Jet and Frances. The two sisters have nothing in common except their hereditary gift for practical magic.
This film started off well, a family of witches with a curse on its men but by the end it had gone all soppy and romantic. Watchable.
The Witch ✩
In the New England of the 17th century, a banished Puritan family sets up a farm by the edge of a huge, remote forest, where no other family lives. But sinister forces then start haunting them.
I watched this when I wasn’t feeling well one day and David was busy working. I’m glad I didn’t subject David to this drivel. It is an account of how religious paranoia and hysteria can result in terrible events happening to a family in the 1600’s. I could see where the director was trying to go with this film it just fell short for me.
The Witches (2020) ✩✩
In late 1967, a young orphaned boy goes to live with his grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe — under cover — to carry out her nefarious plans.
Oh dear. Why did they have to do a remake of an already good film? I like Anne Hathaway but in this retelling of Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches, she was no Anjelica Huston. The film relied too much on CGI at the cost of the story. I wanted to like it but sadly couldn’t.
Escape From Alcatraz ✩✩✩
Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.
Clint Eastwood is his enigmatic self in this tense prison escape, based on a true story.
RL Stine, the author of ‘Goosebumps’, is shocked when demons from his books come to life and spread havoc in Delaware. He, along with his daughter and her friend, tries to get them back in the books.
A good family film with lots of comedy, thrills and action. I would recommend a watch if not seen before.
The Blob ✩✩
The Blob, a slimy substance made as a part of a chemical experiment during the Cold War, spreads havoc in the city of Arborville, California, and disfigures the people who come in contact with it.
Not the Steve McQueen version but a comical 1980’s remake. Best to watch for the cheesiness.
The Conjuring 2 ✩✩✩
Peggy, a single mother of four children, seeks the help of occult investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren when she and her children witness strange, paranormal events in their house.
A strong sequel and a good retelling of the Enfield poltergeist. One of my favourite scary movies. I am liking the direction these films are taking.
What’s your favourite scary movie?
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?
A strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War in 1916 and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later, in this haunting literary time travel novel.
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Part war story, part timeslip, part love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art.
The premise to this novel was good, a sort of time travel but I wasn’t totally won on the romance side, it seemed a little contrived to me. The author depicts the horrors of war and the barbarism of the medical treatment in the field quite well. However the narrative looses its way half way through and it all got a little tedious and repetitive. I did lose the will at one stage but found a fresh wind and managed to finish it.
I feel like I’ve given up on reading this year. Who knows perhaps the cold, darker nights of winter my plunge me back into the pages of a book.
Have you read any good books lately, any recommendations?
September was another full-on month for movies, with a total of 22 films watched. We tried to have a mix of films we had seen before and ones we had not. Have you seen any of the below? If so, what were your thoughts?
A sequel to Train to Busan. A soldier and his team battle hordes of post-apocalyptic zombies in the wastelands of the Korean Peninsula.
Train to Busan is my favourite zombie movie. Though this sequel isn’t as good as the first film in the franchise, there’s enough zombie action to keep the viewer entertained.
The Philadelphia Experiment
The Philadelphia Experiment ✩✩
In 1943, a top-secret experiment aboard a Navy destroyer backfires and two sailors are propelled to 1984.
The fashion and special effects are very 1980’s in this not so exciting sci-fi adventure.
To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China.
I’ve not seen the original Disney version of Mulan so can’t comment on the differences, but I really enjoyed this epic, live action production.
Silver Streak ✩
While on a cross-country train ride, overworked book editor George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) begins an unexpected romance with an enigmatic woman. His vacation is interrupted, however, when he witnesses a murder for which he is then accused.
I found this film tedious to say the least. David said it was good back in the day but it had not aged well.
Gangs of New York ✩✩✩
Amsterdam sets out to avenge the death of his father who was killed in a gang fight at the hands of a crime lord, Bill ‘The Butcher’. Whilst doing so, he gets caught up in the Civil War.
This film would have gained more stars but for the fact that I thought it could have been much shorter. There were no holds barred when it came to the brutality of some scenes.
Gangs of New York
Die Hard – With a Vengence
Die Hard: with a Vengeance ✩✩✩
John McClane must enlist the help of Zeus Carver, a local shop owner, to stop Simon, a former colonel from East Germany, from detonating bombs across New York.
A typical Bruce Willis action movie, full of explosions and unbelievable action sequences. An enjoyable watch.
Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.
My favourite Matthew Broderick film! The story of the first all-black regiment in the American Civil War has themes that are as relevant today as they were back in 1863. James Horner’s score is simply beautiful.
Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion ✩✩
Romy and Michele are best friends who weren’t very popular in school. This fact suddenly occurs to them when they are invited for their high school reunion which they attend with fake identities.
Not the best comedy but its message of just being yourself is something everyone should embrace.
La La Land ✩✩
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.
La La Land burst onto the scene in 2016 boasting awards and accolades galore, however on watching it for the first time I have to say I didn’t like it. If you like musicals then it’s a film for you.
La La Land
Conspiracy Theory ✩✩✩
Jerry Fletcher, a New York taxi driver who publishes conspiracy theories in a newsletter, suddenly falls in danger when one of his claims turn out to be true.
Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts star in this fast paced thriller, it was entertaining enough.
Frozen 2 – ✩✩
No matter how happy Elsa the Snow Queen is to be surrounded by the people of Arendelle, Elsa finds herself strangely unsettled. After hearing a mysterious voice call out to her, Elsa travels to the enchanted forests and dark seas beyond her kingdom — an adventure that soon turns into a journey of self-discovery.
After the astronomical success of Frozen in 2013, there was undoubtedly going to be a sequel. In truth the second film is much weaker and I’d say not as entertaining.
The Terminal ✩✩✩✩
Viktor Navorski gets stranded at an airport when a war rages in his country. He is forced by the officials to stay at the airport until his original identity is confirmed.
When I first saw The Terminal in 2004 I didn’t warm to it very much, however on second viewing I appreciated the subtle nuances of Tom Hanks’ performance.
The Haunting ✩✩
Dr Marrow enlists Theo, Luke and Nell for a study of sleep disorders at the Hill House. As soon as the terrifying truth about the mansion is revealed, everyone is found fighting for their lives.
A disappointing scary movie, it started off well but went down hill half way through.
Catch Me if You Can
Catch Me If You Can ✩✩✩✩✩
Notorious con artist Frank Abagnale has duped people worth millions of dollars with his masterful art of deception. With his scams getting bolder, he is soon pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty.
Is this one of Spielberg’s finest films? I think so, and Tom Hanks and Leonardo diCaprio both churn out believable performances.
The Longest Yard ✩✩✩
Paul, a famous football player, lands up in jail and meets the warden, Rudolph, a football fan, who asks him to put a team together consisting of prison inmates to challenge the prison guards.
I’m not a fan of Adam Sandler films but this film is funny enough, a modern retelling of the 1974 original.
The Longest Yard
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo ✩✩✩✩
Dantes, a sailor is falsely accused of treason by his best friend Fernand, who wants Dantes’ girlfriend Mercedes for himself. Dantes is imprisoned on the island prison of Chateau d’If for 13 years.
Swash buckling adventure of love and revenge from France in the 1800’s. A great movie!
An entry-level employee at a powerful corporation finds himself occupying a corner office, but at a dangerous price: he must spy on his boss’s old mentor to secure for him a multi-billion dollar advantage.
There wasn’t much paranoia happening in this rather sedate thriller. I’d give it a miss if I was you!
The Interview with the Vampire
The Interview with a Vampire ✩✩✩✩
After the death of his wife and daughter, Spanish lord Louis is turned into a vampire by Lestat de Lioncourt. To keep Louis by his side, Lestat converts a plague-ridden girl.
I enjoyed this film much more than David did. An epic sweep through the centuries with vampires, what’s not to like?
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100% of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.
David and I both liked this thriller, full of action with sci-fi elements. Would you take a pill that made you super-human?
Seventeen-year-old Rose hails from an aristocratic family and is set to be married. When she boards the Titanic, she meets Jack Dawson, an artist, and falls in love with him.
I’ve warmed to this film over the years. I love the message that one person can save another person’s life. Awesome cinematography, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot.
A mysterious man arrives at the offices of an FBI agent and recounts his childhood: how his religious fanatic father received visions telling him to destroy people who were in fact “demons.”
This was a rather uncomfortable film to watch. Bill Paxton is menacing as the dad who has visions from angels and sets on a path to kill demons. A good thriller.
Enola Holmes ✩✩
When Enola Holmes-Sherlock’s teen sister-discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord.
I really, really wanted to enjoy this but sadly it was a little disappointing. Millie Bobby Brown was good as Enola but the rest of the cast fell flat for me. Watchable none the less.
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?
It’s been such a long time since I wrote a First Line Fridays, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author.
Joel, I’m so sorry. To see you again like that… Why did I get on the train? I should have waited for the next one. It wouldn’t have mattered. I missed my stop anyway, and we were late for the wedding.
Would you read on?
The lines are from the debut novel The Sight of You by Holly Miller. Joel is haunted by premonitions about the ones he loves.When Joel meets Callie it feels like a new start for them both, until Joel has a dream about Callie. The novel isn’t a laugh a minute, but I’m enjoying the narrative and wondering how it will end. It makes you question that if you knew when your life would end, would you live it differently?
Have you read this book? What were your impressions?
I have a confession to make, the first movie on this list of films watched in August, was actually watched on the last day of July! Oops! However the number of films seem to be increasing as the year progresses. Some 20 films were watched in August, a new record! If you have seen any of the below films, let me know what you thought of them.
The Old Guard ✩✩✩
A group of mercenaries, all centuries-old immortals with the ability to heal themselves, discover someone is onto their secret, and they must fight to protect their freedom.
I surprisingly enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation of immortal warriors fighting for good. I thought Charlize Theron was fantastic in her portrayal as Andy/Andromache. I look forward to the sequel.
The Old Guard
Happy Death Day 2U
Happy Death day 2U ✩✩✩
Tree Gelbman wakes up in horror to learn that she’s stuck in a parallel universe. Her boyfriend Carter is now with someone else, and her friends and fellow students seem to be completely different versions of themselves. When Tree discovers that Carter’s roommate has been altering time, she finds herself once again the target of a masked killer. When the psychopath starts to go after her inner circle, Tree soon realizes that she must die over and over again to save everyone.
I preferred this sequel to the original. I liked the fact that the groundhog day-esque film had a reason for why the loop was happening. Good fun!
Please Stand By ✩✩
Wendy sees things differently: she’s fiercely independent, with a brilliant mind and a mischievous sense of hilarity. Wendy also has autism. To her, people are an indecipherable code and the world is a confusing place. Inspired by her no-nonsense caregiver, Wendy comes of age and escapes from her care home on the road trip of a lifetime to deliver her 500-page script to a screenwriting competition.
One of those pull at the heartstrings kind of films. Dakota Fanning plays an autistic woman who travels by public transport to hand deliver her script for a competition. Quite enjoyable.
Please Stand By
Rob Anderson is all set to marry the girl of his dreams, but can’t quite get to the altar. He finds himself caught in a time loop, waking up naked in a hotel elevator over and over again.
Continuing with the groundhog day theme, an easy to watch comedy with some laugh out loud moments.
When David Ghanatt is convinced by his work crush, Kelly Campbell and her accomplices to join in a far-fetched plan to rob a bank vault, David soon throws everything on the line for love, money, and a life of excitement.
Another comedy supposedly based on true events. The moral to the story is beware of who you become friends with!
Tobias Ellis starts his shift as a co-pilot and everything seems normal, but things quickly take a turn when terrorists storm the cockpit of his Airbus A319, and hijack the plane.
I enjoyed this film more than David did. I felt empathy for the pilot and enjoyed the tension throughout.
The Majestic ✩✩✩
Peter Appleton, a scriptwriter suspected of being a communist, meets with an accident that makes him lose his memory and live with a different identity.
A case of mistaken identity ultimately helps a town heal from its losses after the Second World War, with Jim Carrey in a a more mature role.
Life of Crime
Life of Crime ✩✩
A corrupt real estate developer refuses to pay ransom to two amateur criminals for the release of his kidnapped wife. Confounded, they try to find different ways to deal with the unusual situation.
It pays to learn about your target before kidnapping them in this crime/comedy drama. It was a miss from me however.
Thanks for Sharing ✩
A recovering sex addict (Mark Ruffalo) tries not to fall off the wagon as he woos a new girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) who feels the need to express her rampant sexuality.
Thought this was an awful film, I really couldn’t warm to any of the characters. I was glad when the end credits rolled.
Thanks for Sharing
A teacher chances upon an encrypted code in a time capsule that makes him believe he can alter the chain of events that are about to unfold.
I love this film! There is just enough mystery, threat and menace to keep you on the edge of your seat with a powerful ending. It could happen!
The Mist ✩✩✩✩
David and his son are trapped in a supermarket along with some other townsfolk, when suddenly a mist engulfs the entire city, bringing along bloodthirsty creatures that devour anyone in their path.
Felt like watching end of the world films hence Knowing and War of the Worlds! The Mist has a heartbreaking ending and the monsters are really good graphically for the age of the film. A good watch.
War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds ✩✩✩✩
Ray Ferrier, a dockworker, is ready to spend a weekend together with his children. However, an alien tripod descends on Earth threatening to wipe out humanity.
When I first watched this 2005 Tom Cruise film I didn’t really like it, but on second watching I’ve developed an appreciation of it. I still love the tripods though.
The Day the Earth Stood Still ✩✩✩✩
An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.
This is the original 1951 version and was an enjoyable watch. It was a film of it’s time, during the Cold War, and had a peace not war message. A surprisingly good film.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Interstate 60 ✩✩✩
Neal Oliver, a young artist travelling on the mysterious highway 60, meets a half-leprechaun who grants him one wish, but has a wickedly funny way of fulfilling them literally.
A film David enjoyed more so than I did. Be careful what you wish for is the morale to this story and with a star studded cast I wanted to enjoy it more than I did.
The Invasion ✩✩
A psychiatrist finds out about an epidemic that changes human behaviour. She also discovers that her son might be the key to preventing this deadly epidemic.
We were looking at body snatcher films and saw this modern version from 2007 with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. It wasn’t a bad thriller.
A young magazine writer is made to believe that relationships and marriages hold no value. However, a chance meeting with a sports doctor forces her to rethink her principles.
I quite enjoyed these two comedy films by Amy Schumer. Trainwreck was a heartwarming romance whereas I Feel Pretty was a film empowering women of all shapes and sizes.
I Feel Pretty ✩✩✩
An ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis wakes from a fall believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. With this newfound confidence, she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen when she realizes her appearance never changed?
I Feel Pretty
Deuce Bigalow ✩✩
Deuce Bigalow, an aquarium cleaner, is forced to become a male prostitute in order to repay the man whose house he wrecks while he is babysitting his pet fish.
I think I laughed more at the trailer than the actual film! Silly fun with Rob Schneider.
The War With Grandpa ✩✩✩
Peter and his grandpa used to be very close, but when Grandpa Jack moves in with the family, Peter is forced to give up his most prized possession: his bedroom. Peter will stop at nothing to get his room back, scheming with friends to devise a series of pranks to drive him out. However, grandpa doesn’t give up easily, and it turns into an all-out war between the two.
Another comedy from Robert De Niro and one I enjoyed. The rivalry between grandpa and grandson had hilarious consequences. A good watch for all the family.
The War With Grandpa
Three snowboarders are stranded on a chairlift while riding up Mount Holliston. When the night lights suddenly go off, they either need to find their way down or freeze to death.
Not the Disney Frozen but a 2010 release where three skiers get stranded on a chairlift and a life or death fight ensues. Watchable.
Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla fights an uphill battle to bring his revolutionary electrical system to fruition, then faces thornier challenges with his new system for worldwide wireless energy.
A hero of mine really deserves a better film than this, however Ethan Hawke didn’t do too bad a job portraying the Croatian visionary. David was disappointed at the lack of pigeons!
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?
The list of films watched in July has equaled June’s tally of 16 films! Though its certainly been a mixed bag of movies! Let me know if you have watched any good films recently?
A black-market mercenary who has nothing to lose is hired to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. But in the murky underworld of weapons dealers and drug traffickers, an already deadly mission approaches the impossible.
This wasn’t a bad film. Lots of action and suspense. I partcularily liked the on screen relationship between Chris Hemsworth and young actor Rudhraksh Jaiswal who plays the boy Hemsworth is fighting to save.
Advent Children ✩✩
An ex-mercenary is forced out of isolation when three mysterious men kidnap and brainwash the city’s children afflicted with the Geostigma disease.
I only really wanted to watch this again due to recently playing the PlayStation game, Final Fantasy VII Remake. It was nice to see the beloved characters fighting the bad guys (again), but there wasn’t much of a story.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Ernest Krause is assigned to lead an Allied convoy across the Atlantic during World War II. His convoy, however, is pursued by German U-boats. Although this is Krause’s first wartime mission, he finds himself embroiled in what would come to be known as the longest, largest and most complex naval battle in history: The Battle of the Atlantic.
If you like your World War Two films, then you will like Greyhound, with its moments of tension and threat. It is quite amazing how anything got through the North Atlantic with German U-boats on the prowl.
The Wrong Missy
The Wrong Missy ✩✩✩
Disaster strikes when a man invites his dream girl to an island resort — but a previous blind date shows up instead.
I laughed at this film more than I expected. A comedy with no pretensions. Lauren Lapkus was hilarious as the bat-crazy Missy!
A quick-tempered cop who’s recovering from eye surgery recruits a mild-mannered Uber driver to help him catch the heroin dealer who murdered his partner. The mismatched pair soon find themselves in for a wild day of stakeouts and shootouts as they pursue violent criminals through the seedy streets of Los Angeles.
Another comedy I enjoyed, more silly fun to switch off too.
Roald Amundsen was the first researcher to reach both the North and South Poles. The British explorer Robert Scott was hot on his heels on the trip to the South Pole 1910-1911. The discoverers were in a bitter competition with each other. Amundsen’s expeditions were largely organised and financed by his brother Leon. However, there was constant conflict and conflict between the two.
I wished this film had been better than it was. Amundsen sure was a man who continued to explore until his death. Inspiring story but a rather lackluster way of telling it.
National Treasure ✩✩✩
Benjamin Franklin Gates seeks a war chest hidden by the Founding Fathers during the Revolutionary War. He must find it before his competitor does and also avoid getting arrested by the FBI.
One of Nicolas Cage’s better films, full of action and adventure. Another movie to switch off to at the end of the day.
National Treasure 2
National Treasure 2 ✩✩✩
Ben finds that his ancestor was implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a president of the USA. Through the help of a clue in a diary, he ventures out to clear the name of his ancestor.
Perhaps not as good as the first movie in the franchise, but an enjoyable romp as Cage follows a trail to the legendary City of Gold.
A Street Cat Named Bob ✩✩✩
A stray ginger cat changes the life of James Bowen (Luke Treadaway), a homeless London street musician and recovering drug addict.
Knowing that poor Bob had recently passed away, I thought that we’d give the film based on his origin a watch. I really enjoyed the portrayal of struggling man meets cat whose presence actually helps save his life. A heart-warming tale of redemption and how animals can offer solace in the darkest of times.
A Street Cat Named Bob
Fight Club ✩✩✩
Discontented with his capitalistic lifestyle, a white-collared insomniac forms an underground fight club with Tyler, a careless soap salesman. The project soon spirals down into something sinister.
I’d seen many references to Fight Club in popular culture but never actually watched it. Rather bizarre in parts, I think it was a well made foray into the instability of mental health.
A hotel staff risks everything to keep its patrons safe during a terror attack, especially a British heiress, her husband and her infant.
I really enjoyed this film! It was full of edge of the seat tension and being based on true events made it all that more poignant.
Old Dogs ✩✩
Two best friends and business partners on the brink of finalising a huge deal are forced to take care of seven-year-old twins and get into a series of misadventures.
Not the best film of either Robin Williams or John Travolta. It tries too hard to be funny when its not!
After serving a ten-year sentence, Driver sets out to avenge his brother’s murder while being pursued by a police officer and an assassin.
A rather forgettable film by Dwayne Johnson. That memorable neither David nor I could remember the plot.
Night at the Museum
Night at the museum ✩✩✩
Larry, a night security guard at the Museum of Natural History, gets some help from the exhibits who come alive at night to foil a robbery attempt of a magic tablet and proves that he is not a loser.
A staple family feel-good movie, always good no matter how many times you watch it.
Rusty Griswold plans a cross-country road trip with his wife and two sons in a bid to revive the lost ties between them. However, their trip turns into a series of mishaps for the family.
A sequel to the National Lampoon films, and if you like the humour of the first films then you’ll enjoy Vacation. David really enjoyed this film, more so than I did.
Corporate Animals ✩
An egotistical megalomaniac CEO leads her staff on a corporate team-building trip that involves a weekend of caving in New Mexico. When they become trapped underground after a cave-in, the group must pull together to survive.
Another comedy that tries too hard to be funny and ends up being the antithesis. Sadly a waste of an hour and a half.
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?