I am keeping track of all of my New-To-Me-Movies this year by writing them down each month. So here is my blog of all the movies I watched for the first time in January and my brief reviews of each one!
(Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.)
Jan 4: A Simple Favor, 2018
Although I expected this to be inappropriate and not to my exact liking when perusing Hulu and choosing this movie, I liked the cast, so I figured I’d give it a go anyway. My assumptions were fairly correct. It was an entertaining watch and all 3 of the actors were good but they acted basically the way I thought they would; the mysterious lady who’s “super cool and intimidating but also totally rebellious and does what she wants because she knows she’s hot”, the awkward quirky girl who becomes kind of obsessed with the other person and endears herself to her because of that, and the good-looking, charming husband who you NEVER KNOW which girl he REALLY wants to sleep with! It was a decent watch but it wasn’t anything special; it was basically just what I expected it was gonna be but it wasn’t as memorable as it could’ve been.
Jan 4: Cats, 2019
Well this was a mix of awesome and wacky. I like the musical Cats already, so I know how weird it is, so the general lack of plot didn’t bother me at all. I wasn’t bothered by the look of the cats like some people were (though the cockroaches and mice were creepy). I loved the opening songs, I loved the Jellicle Ball, I LOVED the tap-dancing in the Skimbleshanks number, and I really liked Mr. Mistoffelees and his song. Idris Elba was weird, Rebel Wilson was pretty weird, and keeping the Addressing of Cats in was kind of stupid. It was cool and fine and dumb and awesome. Go musicals!
Jan 6: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969
I was neutral on this. Bond isn’t my favorite character or genre; it’s a decent action type story that has some good moments and some twists but is usually not something I’m going to remember or be able to separate from other movies of the same kind. George Lazenby seemed to be a good Bond; flirty, competent, smart, a bit dramatic. I kept yelling at him for having sex with all the girls. The plotting was a bit far-fetched, but if you think of Bond as stuff that is intentionally over-the-top, then it doesn’t matter. I was impressed with all the skiing.
However, I was fairly thrown off by the ending; I almost knew it was coming because I was like “he can never end happily married because Bond has to have a different girl in each movie” but I didn’t think it was gonna be as abrupt and depressing an ending as that. It didn’t feel like the rest of the movie was serious enough for that, but maybe I misread the tone and it’s supposed to be. Maybe all of the Bonds are and I need to get a firmer grasp on the story’s style. Anyway, it was enjoyable but forgettable.
Jan 8: The Iron Lady, 2012
I wasn’t a major fan of this one. Partially because, a month later, I have almost forgotten the plot. I had to ask Elizabeth what I had told her I thought about it. While I’m sure Meryl Streep did a good job as she always does, I had a hard time getting her character. (I know nothing about the lady she played so I’m taking it all from the movie.) Was the movie presenting her as a good or a bad person? It was also kind of boring. The part I was most interested in was her “present day” self. It had some good parts but it’s not one I’m gonna remember.
Jan 12: Rachel Getting Married, 2008
This was interesting. The filming itself was very DIY like, which was the intention I imagine since it was a home wedding. I thought that Anne Hathaway did a great job; as the movie went on, her character felt fairly rounded as you delve into what all went on before the movie, and I thought the ending bit with the actual wedding and the morning after was really sweet and a little sad. It had some really good moments and I was interested in it the whole way through. I might not remember it long after this, but it was worth the watch.
Jan 13: Kill Bill Vol 1, 2003, and Kill Bill Vol 2, 2004
I watched Vol 1 and 2 together so I’m not really gonna separate them in my review. While I haven’t seen many Tarantinos, I’ve gotta say that his movies have got a LOT of style.
I don’t know the kung fu movies that my sister says this duo is parodying, but I thought the openings for both movies were done really well and they gripped me quickly. I liked the contrast between the really bright colors in the very first fight scene versus the black and white flashbacks. I thought the music in these two movies was really well done and helped to create great atmosphere along the way.
While this story had much too much violence for my taste, as well as several disturbing parts visually that I tried to avoid looking at, it does an interesting job of telling a story that would otherwise be totally boring. While I hated almost all of the side characters in this movie, her constant kick-bad-ery and ability to survive was compelling as a story. Bill was not as good as Christoph Waltz in Inglorious, but he had that similarly intense presence that is extra terrifying through his calmness; the scene in Vol 2 where she sees him for the first time at his house was a jarring yet intriguing lead in to the movie’s end. There were some moments here and there that were a bit too campy, and I didn’t entirely get the motivations of all the bad guys.
But this is a surprisingly positive review about 2 movies that I was totally scared to see. Tarantino makes stories that are disturbing and scary and violent and something I would never watch without someone else in the room. But I understand the appeal for his films thus far and am impressed with how he tells stories.
Jan 19: Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, 1938
This was a very silly movie! My sister Elizabeth rented it and started watching it on her laptop while I was making supper with plans to watch a different movie on the TV that night; then I started watching it over her shoulder, and the opening scene kept making us giggle, so we decided we were invested and switched it to the TV. It’s my 4th Gary Cooper movie and my 2nd Claudette Colbert, but they were both quite funny. I’ve not seen Gary so sulky and grumpy before, and Claudette’s character was decently clever. This might not be a movie that I’ll say was great, but we giggled a lot during it. It was a little awkward at times and it was almost stupid, but it was certainly entertaining. Good to watch with a fellow giggler.
Jan 20: Eat Pray Love, 2006
I liked this decently. It had more of an opening plot than I expected, though at the same time I kind of felt like they didn’t show as much of what was going on with the main chick as I kind of wish they did. They kept having flashbacks about issues with her and her relationship with Franco, and I felt like it came out of nowhere? I guess they were just parsing the story out a bit at a time, but it somehow didn’t feel like it flowed. But maybe I’m being too harsh. It was sweet and it was pleasant and she seemed to be a fairly interesting character. I think I just didn’t follow her character arc super well, so while clearly stuff was changing for her, the impact was a lot less than I think it was supposed to be. But it was still a nice movie.
Jan 20: Logan Lucky, 2017
I watched this because I was on an Adam Driver kick and Elizabeth said it was funny even if she didn’t think I would particularly love it. It was a fun one; I get into heists much more than action because the heist plot can be clever, while watching people run and shoot just gets boring (to me at least). It was fun because the characters were enjoyable. Adam Driver was quite funny with his hill-billy persona (which was quite a different character for him) and the side characters were good, and the main guy was likeable. It wasn’t anything amazing, but it was certainly a worth-it-to-watch heist movie with some good comedy and some clever bits.
Jan 23: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007
This was another one that did better than I expected. I think I thought it was gonna be more western shoot-’em-up, or more boring biography? And while this isn’t gonna be a favorite of mine, I got into this movie more than I thought I would, mainly just because the 3 main actors were so good. They did a great job of building the tension slowly up to the whole “ending” sequence with the three of them. The scene with the knife followed by nervous laughter… ay ay ay! And then later on when Casey is almost happy but then the newspaper happens and he runs into the other room and is just freaking out… that terror was palpable.
But GRRF! If they had just SAID to themselves “oh look, he is literally turning his back to us with his gun down because he’s giving us the option to shoot him, maybe we SHOULDN’T because this means he’s NOT gonna shoot us and maybe we can all 3 just let it go” and they had just left, everything would’ve been fine! But I guess they were too scared that it wouldn’t actually be the end of it.
I wasn’t as interested in the “after” ending bit as I was the “death before” ending bit, but it was still interesting how all that went down. I think if he just hadn’t gone on tour glorifying his actions on the stage, he might’ve been okay. Conclusion: it was slow but with a good climax due to the acting.
January (unknown date): Ugly Dolls, 2019
This had some fun songs in it! It was nice and colorful, and the voice actors weren’t bad. But man, that plot felt thin. It was like it had a premise and a point and a way to get there, but you somehow felt like nothing was ever going on. Maybe it just didn’t feel like the characters progressed naturally, or that the arcs were actual arcs. It was sweet, but it was definitely missing some kind of piece to bring the whole story together cohesively. But I would listen to the opening song and the Nick Jonas song again.
Jan 31: Late Night, 2019
I enjoyed the watch for this one, and I always love Emma Thompson, who was great in this. Oddly, though, I had a hard time getting into Mindy Kaling’s character. I liked her and I saw all the things she did that helped to change things and make a difference in the workplace. But it felt like there was something missing somewhere in her arc; I don’t know what it was, but by the end it just felt like I needed a bit more clarity about her. Apparently getting into characters was something I struggled with this month. Maybe I should watch The Mindy Project; perhaps if I watch some other stuff that Mindy does other than Kelly from The Office I could get inside her head a bit more. It was an entertaining watch, though, and I liked the comedy content; it’s the kind of artsy storytelling content I enjoy.