Smudge's Review Thread

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Well why the hell not! I only really started writing reviews around the turn of the year using Letterboxd (since I just used to write little ones last year on Facebook when I did my new film a week challenge, only to get really annoyed that Facebook removed my review of Requiem for a Dream, so I needed another platform!) If you want to read my past reviews, the link to my Letterboxd profile is here,

Im currently in the middle of doing another year long challenge to try and watch 100 films I havent seen in 2018. Link to that list is here, Im on 62 for the year so far so should easily break 100.

Also doing two further mini-challenges, rewatching (or seeing some for the first time) every animated Disney and Pixar film, so have created lists for them too. Im on a night shift in work tonight, so I usually download a couple of films to watch then, so using today as an opportunity to make some progress in the Disney/ Pixar lists, so expect a couple of reviews to be added here later on!

You will also find some horrendous picks of films in the list, that I can thank my friend for, as we have a long tradition going back that we still call "S**t Film Sundays!" She broke her leg a few years ago, so while she was limited in her going out, I would go around every Sunday night and we would watch whatever film was on Channel 4 that evening, as they always had a Sunday night film. Some of them were actually okay, most were awful. So once the Sunday night visits stopped as her leg was better, we still to this day try and find the worst possible films we can to try and beat each other! We also have massive girl crushes on Julia Stiles (her all time guilty pleasure is Save the Last Dance...) and Kirsten Dunst so if we can find a film for the list that stars either of those 2, it's a bonus!

We also have massive girl crushes on Julia Stiles (her all time guilty pleasure is Save the Last Dance...) and Kirsten Dunst so if we can find a film for the list that stars either of those 2, it's a bonus!
A good one with Julia Stiles, I think, is The Cry of the Owl (2009).

It's going on the watchlist, that's enough for me!

I think Mona Lisa Smile is the only film Ive seen that has both of them in it. That wasnt a bad film really, but with a cast that good, and a really good storyline/message, it should have been so much better than a middling 6/7 out of 10.

Okay, first review is in, and I dont expect it to be a popular one...

Fantasia (1940)

The Big Disney Challenge 3/56

So I have seen this before, though only once, a bloody long time ago, and Im pretty sure my mum may have noticed how bored I was because absolutely nothing after the dinosaur segment looked even vaguely familiar. In fact the I always thought the dinosaur bit was the end, and it's only about half way through, so maybe my mum did that parent thing and sneakily turned it off and said it was over and I didnt complain!

Fact is, I get that this was ambitious and quite groundbreaking. An artsy melding of classical music and cartoons seemingly intent on getting kids into classical music. I think it's clear why some revolutions never take off, because this is really bloody boring. The only bit most kids likely remembered was the Sorceror's Apprentice bit because it has Mickey Mouse. Ballet and classical music are I think an acquired taste. Adding cartoons to the mix doesnt really make it any more attractive. I think Disney did this classical music meets animation thing much better later on with Sleeping Beauty.

Best Song
Im not much of a classical music fan at all, Ill admit that. I dont dislike it, but wouldnt go out of my way to listen to it. As such, all of the music here is much of a muchness. Although again mentioning Sleeping Beauty, the Night on Bald Mountain in the final segment is quite reminiscent of some of the music used in Sleeping Beauty, towards the end as the Prince goes to rescue her from Malificent.

Best Scene:
Again, a blur. Nothing much really stands out when you're that bored.

As An Adult:
It likely bored me even more as an adult than it did as a kid. Strangely I remember the dinosaur segment being much more traumatic as a child. Seeing it as an adult I thought was quite tame. Which seems to be the opposite of how the scarier bits normally make me feel, as I was quite fearless as a child, and I see scary bits in kids films as an adult and wonder what the hell was wrong with me back then that this was acceptable in a kids film!

Did I Cry?
Nope. Im pretty sure the dinosaur bit did make me cry when I was a kid but nothing this time.

Toy Story (1995)

The Big Pixar Rewatch 1/19

Possibly as revolutionary at the time as Snow White was nearly 60 years earlier, the first feature length fully computer animated film has completely changed the surface of animation with a medium that has advanced so quickly, that Toy Story already looks dated in just 2 decades.

But while it may be a landmark for how it was made, it is also a very good film. Pixar assembled an excellent voice cast, the lovely Randy Newman to do the music, and a fantastically funny and witty script for a memorable cast of characters.

Best Song: You Got a Friend In Me
This song has become the signature song of the Toy Story series, and with good reason. It sums up exactly where the heart of the story is, and that's in the love and friendship between Woody and Andy, but also all the toys for each other.

Best Scene:
I always absolutely loved the whole sequence after Buzz breaks his arm and is 'rescued' by Sid's little sister who dresses him for a tea party as Mrs Nesbitt with "Marie Antoinette and her little sister!" It's a very funny scene, especially slapping sense into Buzz by hitting him with his own arm!

As An Adult:
There were a few little jokes I noticed that went completely over my head as a kid, but I'm now old enough to get! Most memorably Mr Potato Head taking off his lips and signifying kiss ass early on!

Did I Cry?
I think this is one of very few that didn't make me cry actually, as an adult or a kid! Not that that a a bad thing, the sequels provided more than enough of that...

Dumbo (1941)

The Big Disney Rewatch 4/56

Famously the shortest of all Disney's films, and the one that basically financially saved the company after they lost so much money on Pinocchio and Fantasia. The title character also doesn't have a single word of dialogue.

But this film is built on feeling and emotion. Dumbo is bullied, laughed at and held back because he is different, and his mother ends up being locked away as she tries to protect her baby. Everything that follows is about what Dumbo goes through to overcome his difference, losing his mother, and adversity, to find his place and gain acceptance.

The story is a very simple one, but it's that feeling that carries it through. The interactions between Dumbo and his mother are beautiful and so emotional, from their separation and reunion, but even playing around at bathtime. And all without dialogue, as Mrs Jumbo also doesn't speak (just the one line to the Stork when she names her baby)

Best Song: Baby Mine
Coupled with that whole sequence with Dumbo visiting his mother and all the other baby animals all happily tucked in with their parents, it's utterly heartbreaking.

Best Scene:
Pink Elephants on Parade! Chances are if you saw this film as a kid, this was the bit that stuck out in a complete WTF moment. I never understood why as a kid that whole scene basically signified that Dumbo and Timothy got pissed and ended up flying up a tree...

As An Adult

Did I Cry?
Anyone who doesn't cry at Baby Mine is clearly some kind of replicant.

The Social Network (2010)

I was a little bit undecided on how I felt going into this. On one side, you have an account of a recent period of time basically about business, which all sounds very dull...but then it's made by Fincher and Sorkin so this must be good right? In the end I guess I'm not really surprised I ended up somewhere in the middling 'meh' camp.

Overall, it just didn't feel like this story needed two hours to tell. There were a lot of periods where it felt like it was dragging, where more descriptions of writing code and needing more server bandwidth felt even duller than the last time.

And it's strange, because I think it is a very well put together film, and the performances are all rock solid (Eisenberg got the Oscar nom, but I think Garfield's performance is really good here too), it looks good, the time jumps between 2003/04 and the present day court cases are well's just...not a very interesting story in all honesty. Unfortunately I think it uses up all it's best material in the first 15 minutes, with the date with Erica and the subsequent drunk blogging/ Facemash affair. That opening is really good and sets it up really well. The rest never hits the same heights though.

Oh, and Rooney Mara getting the two best lines in the whole film, "Good luck with your video game" and very eloquently calling Zuckerberg an ******* in the opening scene, are just everything.

You can't win an argument just by being right!
Beautiful review of Dumbo, Smudge.

I actually rate it 6/10 ... Somehow there are few things I don't like in it.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

So here we are again watching another of my mum's choices, this time one of her all time favourites, and one she studied in college! She also insisted on this today when I said I've never seen a Western...

It's not a bad place to start is it? Despite coming so late in time to the genre, but there is so much here to love. The biggest thing that makes this such a good film is the characters and their interactions with each other. The almost prickly friendship between Stoddard and Donophin as their ideals contradict each other in how they should deal with a bully like Liberty Valance. Valance himself is proper black hat villain played by Lee Marvin. Charismatic, yet utterly threatening and unstable with his loyalty cronies in tow. The cast of characters who bring the little town of shinbone to life and make it the warm place that Stoddard has grown attached to. And that almost tension that we know in hindsight from the early part of the film, that Hallie may be Donophin's girl, but we know it is Stoddard who ultimately wins her.

I really enjoyed it. I have a thing for films that are so driven by character, and this one certainly is.

A Bug's Life (1998)

The Seven Samurai meets Antz? Well this one isn't actually a rewatch, as it's the first so far on either my Disney or Pixar lists that I haven't seen before. I did have the game on the PS1, though that wasn't exactly good enough to convince me to go see it! Really, it was the fact I saw and loved Antz like a month before this came out when I was a kid, and I absolutely loved it. So why would I go see someone else's version of the same film? Bit unfair maybe, but I was like 13 at the time it came out in the UK!

That said, it's not bad. It's a lot more child friendly and funny, with some good characters, though maybe too many to really go into too much detail or development in a 95 minute film. As such, I don't think it has quite the emotional impact Toy Story and future Pixar films do. Dot is ace though, I love her.

Best Scene:
The climax is very well done, with the bird, the fire etc. but especially when it looks like it's over and the ants have won. Only for it to start raining. Very dramatic and well done scene.

Did I Cry?
As I said above, the emotional connection wasn't really there for me.

Hereditary (2018)

I'm always wary of horrors these days, as they fall back far too often on CGI and tropes in lieu of actually building any kind of tension. This film, this bloody gets tension. It gets how to build it and build it. To the extent your heart is pounding out of your chest just desperately wanting this to all be over and you can go home to bed!

Yes there is a Rosemary's Baby-esque supernatural angle here (that I wont go any further into to avoid any spoilers) but all of the true horror on show here is pure psychological family breakdown horror. Some of the story is a little muddled, second half especially, but that pure visceral gut punches relating to that familial dysfunction...never seen anything like it.

Well worth your time. Oh, and pay attention. Everything is deliberate, what might seem like a throwaway shot or line is there on purpose and will be important later. Nothing in this film happens by accident.

The Cry of the Owl (2009)

Watched for absolutely no reason other than Julia Stiles is in it, I had very little expectation of anything going into it.

Well it ain't perfect...but then it's not that bad either. This thriller follows a lonely soon to be divorced man who begins stalking a woman through her window. Only for her to befriend him when she spots him. Then her ex-boyfriend goes missing presumed dead, and the suspicion falls on the stalker who was the last person to see him after a fight.

Like I said, it's no masterpiece, there were a couple of silly plotholes that made little sense, but on the whole, it's not a bad one viewing thriller. The atmosphere is quite well done, the characters decent. The kind of film that isn't necessarily worth seeking out, but if you found it on TV or in a bargain DVD bucket, it's worth a watch.

The Tale (2018)

Perfect score alert! I don't hand out many 10/10s, so you know this is good right?

This film is 100% Requiem For a Dream effect. The only way I know to describe something that is so well made, and so perfect in every way...but it's also tremendously uncomfortable that you don't so much 'enjoy' it. It's the wrong word. From beginning to end of this film, I swear I felt like someone was sat on my chest, and I'm struggling to get my breathing back to normal now!

I've never seen a film like it. The Tale is based on a story written by the film's writer and director when she was 13, a story she is forced to revisit in her late 40s after her mother is distraught after finding and reading the story. And no wonder, as the story details 13 year old Jenny's first sexual relationship.

What follows is truly brutally harrowing, and it is done so perfectly by a skilled documentary maker who rather than present this story as a straight up documentary, it is almost done as a mystery story, following both 48 year old Jenny as she tries desperately to remember what happened, intercut with flashbacks to the story her 13 year old self written, and in between there are almost fantasy sequences where she is imagining what she would ask those who were at the time, if it were possible to ask them anything, and even questioning her younger self about the choices she made and how they shaped the woman she grew up to be.

The whole film is a brilliantly put together memoir, that makes full use of just how unreliable a narrator can be, and how our own memories vary. There is one key scene that when we see it, happens on a snowy night. When Jenny later asks her mother about what she remembers of that night, she tells her it was autumn, even though both remembered so many details of the same night and the same event so vividly, they both have a completely different version of the same moment. Because everyone has their own story, their own truth. This is Jenny's Fox's truth, and it's screaming at you to watch it, because it is so damn important in 2018.

The Kissing Booth (2018)

Where in the world do I even start with explaining why this is the worst film ever made? Well first off, I wouldnt give it a rating at all, but unrated doesn't suitably drag down its rating on here and the people need to be warned about what they're letting themselves in for.

A truly toxic relationship at the centre of a wannabee cutesy romance, every single cliche of every good and bad high school movie ever made all rolled into a terrible, painful, journey through cinema purgatory and hellfire with token homophobic and racial stereotypes, and legit cover version murder being committed on a string of 80s classics.

I'm typing this before it's even over. I know it's not going to redeem itself. Unless Freddy Krueger turns up and disembowels everybody then emerges from my tv and sets it on fire.

You can't win an argument just by being right!
Thanks for the headsup, Smudge.

I only actually watched it because my friend watched it and then told me to just to see if I hated it as much as she did...

I did say we like to outdo each other in picking terrible films to watch!

Bambi (1942)

The Big Disney Rewatch 5/56

Another one I've seen before, though not since I was a kid. I never liked it then, I still don't. I get what it's trying to do and can appreciate that more as an adult, but my word it's boring. The characters are bland (with the exception of Thumper, who is just plain irritating), the songs unmemorable, it is basically an episode of Planet Earth, minus Attenborough, a short 'year in the life of the forest' film who's ultimate lesson is how ****ty humans are.

Best Song: None
This is likely the only time I'll not have an answer to this, as none of them stand out at all. Even beofre I watched it, April Showers was the only one I even vaguely remembered and even that is boring.

Best Scene:
Again, I'm struggling a bit here. Everything is just so meh. Probably the scene in the meadow where Bambi meets Feline and all the stags pass by.

As An Adult
Why does everyone say Disney have never had a gay character when Flower is so blatantly into Bambi? Hell, he names his kid after him!

Did I Cry?
Considering this is the one that seemingly every kid cried at, it's probably the only Disney film I saw as a kid that didn't make me cry! I just don't get it. Oh yeah, Bambi's mum dies. But it's all very 1940s stuff upper lip and restrained. We don't see it, and the stag basically turns up and says he won't be seeing her any more and that's that! It's absolutely nothing to so many other sad moments in cartoons, so I really don't know why this one seems to have had such an effect on people.

Toy Story 2 (1999)

The Big Pixar Rewatch 3/19

A rare thing in itself, a sequel that is probably better than the original. For everywhere Toy Story was rough around the edges and limited by tech, this is an improvement in every area. But it also takes everything that was great about the original too and not only keeps it but expands on it. I love that all of the Toy Story films start with toys playing a game. From Andy playing with them in the first one, to the Buzz Lightyear video game in this one, they're great openings as they just highlight that joyous fantasy we all created as kids playing with our toys and imagining those characters in our heads. (Also, the actual Toy Story 2 game on the PS1 was brilliant! One of the best film to game adaptations ever!)

It's still got the humour (Buzz encountering another Buzz toy that doesn't knows it's a toy like him in the first one is a hilarious little sideline) but adds a lot to the emotion, with the main storyline of Woody being torn between Andy and his friends and the fear of being broken and forgotten, and the loyalty to his new Roundup Gang friends who are bound for a museum but will go into storage without him.

Best Song: When She Loved Me
Its the only song really, and it's not sung by Randy Newman! It's a cracking song though, and that whole scene is absolutely beautifully done, and so heartbreaking.

Best Scene:
There are a lot of good ones, but I always have a soft spot for the scene where the repair man fixes and cleans up Woody is fantastically animated with so much detail.

As An Adult:
Nothing really stood out that I hadn't ever seen as a kid. I absolutely love that internet theory that Jessie's Emily was actually Andy's mum, and am completely on board with it!

Did I Cry?
The sequence with Jessie and Emily ALWAYS makes me cry. Hard.