Escapism or Research

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

We all remember during lockdown and the US presidential election, how so many of us struggled, while others flourished. There was an outpouring of creativity and community and I was in awe of what could be done when given the chance. I was not one of those people. I was in the first group.

I was not creative. I barely wrote. I couldn’t watch anything “heavy”; there were a lot of bad movies viewed. I developed anxiety.

It was a strange time.

It was the year that will go down in infamy – 2020.

We couldn’t wait for it to go away. So many of us looked to 2021 as a magic reset button.

It was not.

I was determined to make 2022 different. With the new year and new goals, I decided to stop wasting my TV viewing time on things I’ve watched a dozen times over. I would watch those “must see” movies and shows in my genre. I would read the books I “should have” read. I would read more screenplays because you know, that’s what I want to do in life.

I had a new perspective and I wanted to make an impact.

Then, when things felt like they might be getting better, ever so slightly, a megalomaniac chose that moment to make things that much worse.

It’s easy to use TV, movies, and video games as a means of escapism in a world turned on its side. It’s easy to rationalize it all as research when you’re a creative.

It’s a little column A, a little column B.

So, despite the current situation, I thought I’d share the 3 shows I’ve watched so far that I’ve enjoyed if you’re in need of a little escape (or research ūüėČ ). They’re all available on Netflix.

  • Arcane – By far the best show I’ve watched in some time. The animation is beautiful, the characters are all intriguing, and the world is unique. Considering it took 6 years to make the first season, I’m guessing it will be a long wait for season 2, but it will be worth it.
  • The Witcher Season 2 – I am a big fan of the third installment in the video game series – I even wrote a review about it – so I was always going to watch the show. While season 1 was a little convoluted and hard to follow if you weren’t familiar with the material, they did a great job with the second season.
  • Shadow and Bone – This series kept being suggested to me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had not read the books, or even heard of them beforehand. I have since read the first novel. Don’t waste your time, just watch the show. It’s a magical land, actually, they don’t call it magic, and there are some fun characters, and it was better than I thought it would be.

I’ve started a few other shows and if anything else resonates, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

Do you have any shows or movies to recommend? What shouldn’t be missed?

Happy Watching!

The 2020 ‚ÄúOne Movie a Week‚ÄĚ Challenge (Nearly) Completed

I nearly made it.

But at what cost?

I watched quite a few subpar movies throughout the year, at least that’s how I found many of them, and as you may recall from Part I, I was rather behind in my viewing schedule, by about 3 months = 13 movies. I made up a little bit of the difference by finishing out the year with a string of holiday themed movies…some were better than expected.

I’m sticking to the ABC rating system. And as you’ll see, I fell short by 4 films. Surprising, I know, given it was 2020.

  • 34. Pleasantville – B+
  • 35. Emma (2019) – C
  • 36. Logan Lucky – C
  • 37. The Dead Don’t Die – D
  • 38. Pride (2014) – A
  • 39. Happiest Season – B+
  • 40. Lego Star Wars Holiday Special – B-
  • 41. The Christmas Chronicles – B
  • 42. The Christmas Chronicles 2 – C
  • 43. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – A
  • 44. A Bad Moms Christmas – B-
  • 45. Wonder Woman 1984 – C-
  • 46. Holidate – B
  • 47. Last Christmas – B
  • 48. Wonder Woman (2009 Animated) – C

I think my favorite movie of 2020 was Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi. It was one of those movies that stuck with me for a few days.

For 2021’s challenge, I plan on being a bit more discerning in my viewing choices. Some of these were just filler, something to put on, but there are so many wonderful movies waiting to be watched, and I shouldn’t waste my limited time on frivolous, add-nothing-to-my-education-of-filmmaking-and-screenwriting type of movies. Well, maybe just one or two, just because.

What was your favorite movie you watched this year? Have any recommendations for my 2021 watch list?

The 2020 “One Movie a Week” Challenge Part I

I’m a little behind this year. By nearly 3 months = 12 movies. Eek! We’ve been watching more television and a lot of home renovation/home buying shows because we’re ready to settle down and call a place home.

Sometimes I’ve thrown on something mindless…because it’s 2020. Don’t judge me. We didn’t start out avoiding drama and the like, but too much seriousness left us feeling emotional in an already emotionally strung out existence, so we tried to find more casual, fun type fare on occasion, but that means we’ve watched a lot of subpar movies.

I’m going to use a simple ABC rating system and not review them individually this time. The letter grade should offer enough insight as to my feelings.

  1. Alita: Battle AngelA
  2. MoanaA
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeB
  4. Kissing BoothD
  5. Falling Inn LoveC
  6. Toy Story 4B
  7. Inside OutA
  8. Frozen IIC
  9. Into the SpiderverseA
  10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2C
  11. Hobbs and ShawC
  12. AnnaB
  13. ProspectB
  14. Mission: Impossible – FalloutC
  15. Tron: LegacyC
  16. Bird BoxD
  17. Midnight SpecialB
  18. The PlatformC
  19. AniaraD
  20. The Old GuardB
  21. BumblebeeC
  22. The Big SickC
  23. The Half of ItB
  24. Knives OutB
  25. Jojo RabbitA
  26. VenomC
  27. Enola HolmesB
  28. UsC
  29. Men in Black: InternationalC
  30. The Amazing SpidermanC
  31. LovebirdsB
  32. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesC
  33. Hocus PocusC (This one is sort of a cheat as I have seen it before but not since its release. I barely remembered any of it, and it does not hold up.)

As it’s now the end of October, and the last few months have felt like an eternity, some of these viewings are a little blurry at this point but I’m fairly secure in these ratings.

I would love some suggestions for the remainder of the year. What movies have you enjoyed?

The 2019 ‚ÄúOne Movie A Week‚ÄĚ Challenge Completed

MovieReelI did it! ¬†I accomplished my goal of one new movie a week! ¬†I actually slightly exceeded it with 53 movies, the last just narrowly sneaking in on New Year’s Eve.

I’m sticking with the “ABC” grading scale and will give just a simple overview as many of my posts recently have been rather long and involved. ¬†Looking back on all I’ve watched this year, it’s rather sad to find how few of them were stellar endeavors.

31. What Happened to Monday: An interesting premise of septuplets born when overpopulation has mandated a one child per regulation.  Noomi Rapace plays all the siblings who must discover what happened when one goes missing.  My rating: B-

32. Ralph Breaks the Internet: When Vanellope’s vintage game is broken, she and Ralph must find the part to keep her racing. ¬†A cute follow-up to the original, with some clever references to keep all ages entertained; I just didn’t think it had as much heart as the first. ¬†My rating: B

33. Crazy Rich Asians: The clich√©d story of a woman marrying a wealthy man and concerns about the family not accepting her is exactly that. ¬†While everyone was thrilled with the representation, that shouldn’t overshadow the lack of a well rounded story. ¬†It’s also a bit too long, and feels it. ¬†My rating: C

34. Aquaman: What can be said about the origin story of one of the least liked DC characters nobody asked for? ¬†The movie is too long, too convoluted, and an assault of CGI “magic”. ¬†The only reason anyone even bothered is Jason Momoa. ¬†My rating: D

35. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Every once in a while you just need a sweet movie without a lot of substance, which is surprising given its setting.  Set after the German occupation of Guernsey, a Channel Island during WWII, a young writer befriends villagers who started a book club and of course, finds love.  My rating: B

36. Bad Times at the El Royale: I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. ¬†Desperate to follow in Tarantino’s footsteps, this film about strangers converging at a strange motel that straddles state lines is a bit of mess that doesn’t tie up all its loose ends. ¬†My rating: C-

37. Bohemian Rhapsody: There is no dismissing Rami Malek’s performance as the charismatic lead of the band Queen, but it felt like the filmmakers played it safe. ¬†Not wanting to, possibly, turn people off from any negativity associated with Freddie’s life, they jump cut around instead, showcasing the music, without a lot of substance. ¬†My rating: B

38. Fighting with My Family: I grew up watching the WWF, now WWE, with my grandfather. ¬†I still tune in every now and then, and Paige, for whom the film is based on, is among one of my “newer” favorites. ¬†As the youngest wrestler to be signed, it was touching to see how it all began. ¬†My rating: B

39. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: Not my favorite in the franchise, but still a pretty entertaining shoot ’em up movie with a few new twists to keep it interesting. ¬†Since the films continue in sequence, it’s hard not to appreciate Wick’s skill as the formidable hit man on the run. ¬†My rating: B-

40. Tall Girl: I, myself, am a tall girl. ¬†I’m 6′ and have been since I was 16 years old. ¬†I’ve heard all the same jokes, and had to deal with feeling like the jolly Green Giant among pretty much everyone I know while wearing men’s jeans because they had an inseam measurement. ¬†While I appreciate the message of accepting who you are, because you really can’t do anything about your height, the movie is just…blah. ¬†My rating: C-

41. The Favourite: Courts are notorious for their backstabbing and conniving, but I was hoping for more from this film than just that.  Women have a reputation where other women are concerned, and in a time when we need to be more supportive, on the whole, this film about taking advantage of an already fragile person, was uncomfortable to watch at times.  Olivia Colman is an amazing actress, and fully deserving of the accolades.  My rating: B

42. Spider-Man: Far From Home: First off, I want to put Tom Holland in my pocket.  In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, poor Peter is struggling to find his place and just wants to spend some time with his friends, but where superheroes travel, chaos is soon to follow.  An entertaining follow-up in the MCU and development for a beloved character as he comes into his own.  My rating: B+

43. Mary Queen of Scots: ¬†If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know I’m fascinated with Queen Elizabeth I. ¬†This film takes a look at the relationship between the queen and one of her biggest rivals, Queen Mary of Scotland, played by two wonderful actresses, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. ¬†I’ll watch anything where the Queen is concerned, in spite of uneven storytelling. ¬†My rating: B-

44. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part: Another sequel that lacked the heart of the first. ¬†The Lego citizens face a new threat and must find a way of coexisting with their “enemy”. ¬†While still a cute movie with a sweet message, it was fun to watch, if not sort of forgettable. ¬†My rating: B

45. Glass: Having not seen the original in this strange trilogy, Unbreakable, I don’t have all the information to grade this film as part of a whole. ¬†I found some aspects entertaining, a film with a variation on the comic book figure, and I appreciate some of the risks taken, but overall there felt like there was something missing. ¬†My rating: B-

46. Fallen: I knew this was going to be a bad movie, and it was. ¬†I’ve always enjoyed the tale of the star crossed lovers, but this story, based on a YA series of novels was unmoving, the actors were dull, and just when it started to move in a slightly interesting direction, it was over. ¬†My rating: D

47. Shazam: I was unfamiliar with this superhero character prior to the film. ¬†My only reference was from the TV show Archer on a few occasions. The story of a young boy who gains powers which transform him into a fully grown, muscle bound man was more interesting than I would have guessed. ¬†There’s also a sweet message about family. ¬†My rating: B

48. It Chapter 2: The story of the child eating clown continues as the Losers, now grown up, must return to the beginning to finish what they started as a new cycle begins.  Casting did a great job with the grown versions of the children, but this movie failed to recapture the fun of the first one.  My rating: B-

49. Dumplin’: ¬†I love me a drag queen, and in the preview for this movie, a few help to inspire a teen girl overcome body image issues and compete in a beauty contest run by her once beauty queen mother. ¬†My rating: B+

50. Let it Snow: This teen holiday film about a group of friends finding love was a story that didn’t really do anything different and was actually fairly dull and forgettable. ¬†My rating: D

51. Knight Before Christmas: I followed one bad movie with another. ¬†A knight is sent forward in time on a quest and finds love with a modern day woman who’s been romance deprived. ¬†Meh. ¬†My rating: D

52. Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of the Skywalker: Oh, where to begin…if you’re not a fan, you’ve probably still seen some of the reviews, or heard the hubbub over how fans are disappointed. ¬†This fan included. ¬†The final episode in the latest trilogy initially seemed better than reviewed but as I continued to think on it, I realized how much was missing among so many other things. ¬†My rating: C

53. Love and Friendship: A Jane Austen story I wasn’t familiar with, Lady Susan – surprising, I know. ¬†Upon the viewing, I wish I did know more because the way it was filmed was a bit confusing. ¬†Lady Susan is conniving and manipulating. ¬†It appears as if she’s out for herself, which she is, but she also is looking out for her daughter, in a strange way. ¬†I’ll give it another watch after a read and see if it improves. ¬†My rating: B-

If you’d like to see what else I watched this year, here are parts One and Two of the series. ¬†Do you agree with my ratings? ¬†Would you like to offer any recommendations as I endeavor into the new year?

Rambling Review: Valerian


I have a soft spot for Luc Besson’s films. ¬†La Femme Nikita was my introduction to his work (thankfully, the intro was a good one), because there’s been the occasional let down, and yet I still get excited when I see his name attached. ¬†Which is why I had high hopes for his latest project, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, aka France’s most expensive movie ever made, by a lot.

There was a lot of press on this film surrounding its release, and I remember Luc being unhappy with the state of the film industry at the time. ¬†Other comic book stories translated to the screen had been dominating the scene, with some of them being overwhelmingly well received, while his comic book tale fell flat. ¬†He felt his movie didn’t get its rightful due, not taking into consideration that maybe his film just wasn’t that good.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful to watch, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) compensate for a lack of story and boring characters. ¬†I mean, when the lifeless portrayal of a shape shifting alien, played by Rihanna is one of the best performances, that’s saying something. ¬†Because the movie is based on a comic series, I’m sure there were other stories to choose from, so I have to wonder, why did he choose this one?

Valerian offered us a glimpse into an amazing world, but the lack of a compelling introduction and the lack of interesting lead characters had me contemplating turning it off within the first 15 minutes, but I believed, and hoped, that sticking it out would lead to a satisfying end.  It did not.

Major Valerian played by Dane DeHaan and his partner Sergeant Laureline played by Cara Delevingne are basically special ops officers sent in to recover sensitive material in an illegal transaction. ¬†They later learn that their mission was part of a cover up of a shameful military commander’s actions from years earlier – the decimation of a planet and its inhabitants.

PearlsKnown as Pearls, these beautiful, androgynous aliens, thought to be primitive because of their simple existence are nearly extinguished during a war they aren’t even a part of. ¬†I think they’re the best part of the entire film. ¬†We soon discover they’re basically geniuses, learning advanced math and science theories and practices in a matter of years not only to survive, but also because they wish to return to their way of life. ¬†But as clich√©d villains go, the ol’ commander doesn’t want any reminders of the past.

That’s the plot in a nutshell.

The side story is the uninteresting love connection they’re trying to force on us between the Major and the Sergeant. ¬†There is absolutely no spark between the two leads. ¬†Their performances, for me, were flat and dull. ¬†Valerian, as we learn through a quick recap, is a womanizer, and most likely for sake of the film and in the hopes we’ll root for them, becomes fixated on his partner. ¬†There is absolutely no cause for this other than their close proximity to one another.

Suddenly, he’s proposing, and that dominates nearly every conversation between them the rest of the movie. ¬†Ugh. ¬†And this coming from a romantic.

I was bitter that such a beautiful, overachieving movie would fall so flat, especially in such capable hands Рthose same hands are responsible for The Professional.  The advances in technology have allowed us unlimited potential in our imaginations in regards to translating that to the screen, and I think that Valerian relied too heavily upon this.  Enamored with their visuals, they forgot that some of us were paying attention to why we were there in the first place Рthe story.

Ah well, not every time out can be a winner. ¬†Will I continue to support Luc and his visions? ¬†Of course. ¬†But whereas I was disappointed that I didn’t initially see this in theaters, I’ll probably weigh this endeavor against any future films and the feelings of immediacy at seeing it in theaters in way of support.


What I’ve learned recently is that when my expectations have been high, I’ve been disappointed, like 99% of the time. ¬†I’ve been pleasantly surprised by films I had low expectations of, and that’s a sad truth to face, especially in light of the fact that I want to be a part of said industry.

Do you agree or disagree with my take on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?  Share your thoughts below.

Rambling Review: Logan

Logan3I haven’t done a review in ages! ¬†And instead of being overly late to the party (like I usually am), as this movie is still in theaters, I thought I’d give this one a shout out.

I try my best to only watch a trailer or two of any film I’m interested in seeing. ¬†I don’t read other reviews, I don’t seek out spoilery information, and I try to ignore social media posts (which is almost a permanent state at this point, as I’m always behind in everything), so I didn’t know too much about what to expect from this movie before viewing it.

I haven’t finished the Wolverine film series, or even the newer X-Men films, so I’m uncertain to any tie-ins, but this definitely felt like a stand alone film and didn’t require much¬†explanation as to what had been happening up to this point.

Side note, I went to see this by myself. ¬†I like going to the movies once in a while on my own, but clearly this was a shock to the two men seated near me. ¬†“You’re here alone?” One of them asked. ¬†“Yes.” ¬†I responded. ¬†“You came to see Logan by yourself?” ¬†“Yep.” ¬†I heard him sort of huff in surprise. ¬†I didn’t pay enough attention to the accent to narrow down where they were from, but clearly this was a strange idea to them. ¬†I’m not sure if it was because I was lone woman, or because I was a¬†lone woman at¬†a superhero movie.

At the conclusion, he asked if I liked it.  Yes.  Yes, I did.

*I like to write reviews as if I were talking with a friend, so I try my best to keep them¬†spoiler free. ūüôā


As I said, I didn’t know much about the film before entering the theater. ¬†The fantastic pairing of Johnny Cash on¬†the trailer was enough to spark my interest, especially with Logan looking so weathered and forlorn. ¬†He looked like a man whose age had finally caught up with him; a man who has seen a great deal and lost just as much.

The film is set in the not too distant future, and we’re introduced to a Logan who¬†is clearly unwell, whose claws are getting a little rusty, has a limp, and is drinking himself into oblivion. ¬†The strong warrior doesn’t appear to have much fight left in him, and becomes a reluctant protector of a young girl with similar powers. ¬†And I do mean reluctant.

Mutants have gone the way of the dinosaur, and Logan is looking out for himself and the Professor, who is now in his 90s and unable to control his powers due to seizures. ¬†Apparently there was an incident that killed a number of people and mutants in the recent past, and Logan is¬†doing his best to keep him¬†safe and protected. ¬†He just wants to earn enough money to buy a boat and escape to a quiet life – enter the bad guys who think they’re good guys.

There’s been a secret project going on for years, because there’s always a secret project, and when the lab rats get loose, the big guns come out in force to clean up their mistake. ¬†And do they ever come out in force. ¬†There are loads of great fight sequences – Logan’s claws are still as sharp as ever, and we discover, so are the little girl’s, and she’s a dangerous little thing.

The movie is about both a literal and figurative “journey”. ¬†Logan has lost everyone he’s ever cared about, save Charles, and he doesn’t want to care about anyone else, no matter how she might tug at the ol’ heart strings. ¬†He’s not who he once was, and he’s not who everyone¬†wants him to be, he’s just…tired, of it all.

The film took some unexpected turns, but honestly, they felt right. ¬†It wasn’t a traditional spandex-clad superhero film, and I think that’s what I liked best. ¬†It was a more “reality” based look at an old hero and what they, or any of us, are willing to fight for.

There was one aspect of the storyline that I felt was a little forced in, and a cliche of sorts – the whole white hats vs black hats kind of thing, facing yourself, and your past, but as parallels go, it wasn’t too bad. ¬†*This one is hard to go into too much explanation without being spoilery.¬†

This is my second favorite X-Men film, after the first one back in 2000, and probably number 6 on my top 10 of superhero movies. ¬†It wasn’t what I was expecting, and that was a good thing. ¬†All the X-Men movies of late have not inspired me to care about any of these characters I once liked. ¬†Remember the X-Men cartoon? ¬†The¬†writers, directors, etc. really should have taken a note from their predecessors.

You don’t have to be a superhero fan to enjoy this film. ¬†It’s a tale we’re all familiar with, it just happens to be “enhanced”. ūüėČ

4.5 stars.jpg

If you’ve seen Logan, what did you think?

4 New (to me) Favorite Shows + 1

TVblueIt’s hard enough to keep up with the shows I’ve been watching for years (because I haven’t paid for television in¬†nearly 5 years and generally have to wait to stream), let alone stay current with the torrent of new shows available on the numerous outlets nowadays, but since I want to be a part of it all, I¬†had to make a concerted effort to watch some new things.

I decided to go through my various lists and watch the first episode of a number of shows, and see what struck me. ¬†Here are the “new to me” stand outs:

lastkingdom4. ¬†The Last Kingdom – A wonderful show I discovered via Netflix is the BBC import The Last Kingdom. ¬†Set¬†before England is a united nation, the story follows the life of a young Saxon prince who is captured by an invading Dane army and becomes their earl’s slave. ¬†As the years pass, he becomes more Dane than Saxon and eventually becomes the earl’s adopted son. ¬†His journey is a strange one as he discovers that despite his true heritage, he is a man that doesn’t really belong in either world,¬†and yet finds himself at the center of the great changes that are to come.

It’s a period piece set in England. ¬†For me, that’s all it really takes, ūüėČ ¬†but there is something unique and captivating about this show, and I definitely recommend watching the first episode like I did – I’m sure you’ll be hooked too.

galavant3. ¬†Galavant – A comedy musical set in Medieval times starring Timothy Omundson?! ¬†I was in from the moment I saw the first preview, but because of the not-having-tv-thing, it was just another show that got pushed to the wayside…until Netflix. ¬†The first two seasons popped up and I was hooked from first song – Thank you, Alan Menken! (of Disney movie fame: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Tangled to name a few).

The series follows Galavant, a knight on a mission to reclaim his lost love, but as you can expect in a comedy, things don’t always go as planned. ¬†The show is¬†more adult oriented despite the light hearted presentation, special guests make regular appearances, and without commercials, the 18 episodes are only about 20 mins long, so it’s an easy binge watch. ¬†And then I discovered the horrible truth –¬†Galavant had been canceled. ¬†I think the show is really wonderful, and cleverly done. ¬†I’m sad to learn that there won’t be any more of it. ¬†If you’re looking for something different and just plain fun, I highly recommend Galavant.

vikings2. ¬†Vikings – This was a show I longed to watch, but again, did not have access to, and then I got access to Hulu and voila! ¬†Even if I hadn’t been entranced by the first episode, which I totally was, this show was one I was willing to put a little effort into. ¬†Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. ¬†It’s fantastic! ¬†Vikings are often¬†portrayed as this brute invading force, but this show takes us inside their world and, in particular, the life of Ragnar Lothbrok.

Tired of the routine set by his earl of sailing east to lands they have repeatedly pillaged, Ragnar¬†makes a daring-rogue decision and builds a boat of his own to travel to new destinations. ¬†Ragnar, besides being easy on the eyes, is a compelling character to watch. ¬†He’s a clever man played by a subtle¬†actor who says a great deal with his eyes. ¬†(I’m a sucker for that, hello, Mads Mikkelsen.) ¬†And then there’s his wife, Lagertha, a famous warrior known as a shield maiden. ¬†She is an amazing character and¬†my eyes are drawn to her whenever she’s on screen. ¬†She’s a force to be reckoned with, and it’s satisfying to find a character like her.

I’m only on season 2,¬†and there’s already been betrayal and sacrifice (literally) and loss. ¬†I can’t wait to see what else is in store for these characters.

strangerthings1. ¬†Stranger Things – Everyone was talking about Stranger Things¬†so I decided to watch the first episode to see what all the hype was about. ¬†If you’ve been on the fence, get off of it already and watch this hit from Netflix Originals.

Set in the 80s in a small town, this sci-fi series follows a group of friends, four 12 year old boys who are sort of the geeky outcasts. ¬†(In hindsight, they’re the boys I wish I would’ve befriended when I was 12 to learn how to play D&D.) ¬†When one of their friends mysteriously disappears, a new friend mysteriously appears, and a¬†“strange” series of events follow as this tale unfolds.

There was a lot of information about this show on every social media outlet (there still is as season 2 is close at hand), and it was hard to stay ignorant to the premise, so if you’re like¬†I was, I won’t give too much away because it is really well done and a lot of fun to watch. ¬†I have to say I was surprised how much I enjoyed this,¬†because I didn’t know what to expect, so maybe that’s a good thing…I’ve been disappointed more often than not recently when I’m looking forward to something…and despite the fact that Winona Ryder is one of the leads, she is still not a good actor, the show is worthy of your time.

And the +1 is currently in the ¬†“undecided” section:

blackbutlerBlack Butler – The Sis has already watched all the available episodes and is a fan, but I’ve only watched a few, and am still on the fence. ¬†I really like the premise which is about a young boy,¬†the heir to a vast fortune in Victorian England, who makes a deal with a demon to avenge his family. ¬†The demon then becomes his constant companion in the way of his butler, and he is “one hell of a butler”. ūüėČ

Japanime seems to be a cross between a couple of animation types, a beautiful, stylistic art, and this odd, campy, almost childish variant. ¬†Black Butler has both, which sometimes pulls me out of the story because the two styles are drastically different, but this is a mainstay in their animation, I’ve discovered, so it’s just something you have to get used to.

Black Butler is available on both Netflix and Hulu and the Hulu version has both the dubbed and subtitled versions, I believe.  I would recommend the subtitled versions, because Sebastian, the butler, has a wonderful, soothing voice.

Have you watched any of these shows? ¬†What do you think? ¬†Wanna talk about any of them? ¬†Let’s chat!

A Discrepant Writer Reviews: Suicide Squad

I’m breaking from routine this week. ¬†It’s time to mix up the schedule, so for today, I thought I would do a review…I’m really, really behind in those. ¬†I mean, I never even talked about Star Wars. ¬†Who am I?

As always, I will do my best to keep my review “spoiler free”.


I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that DC is trying to play catch up with Marvel. ¬†Marvel has been interweaving their stories since day one and while not all¬†the movies they put out are stellar, they’ve put out a few great ones and their story telling only continues to get better. ¬†From what I’ve seen so far of the DC cinematic world, the same cannot be said.

Suicide Squad, on initial inspection, sounded like an interesting premise: gather together some of the comic world’s worst and let them do something good knowing that if it all goes wrong they’re the perfect scapegoats.

First of all, there are so. many. characters, and for some reason, we needed the backstory of each one. ¬†Actually, no, we didn’t. ¬†As a writer, I’ve learned that when introducing a group, you should find an interesting way to do it, so it sets them all up with their individual character traits and personalities, and doesn’t waste too much time. ¬†This did not happen in Suicide Squad.

I wish I would have timed it, but I felt the set up for all these characters was somewhere in the 45 mins range. ¬†Way too long. ¬†And a lot of their backgrounds could have easily been summed up in a line of dialogue. ¬†With stories of this genre, and with a lot of side characters, I don’t feel that full histories¬†are necessary because we don’t need to emotionally connect with each person on screen. ¬†Besides, the movie is only two hours long.

Then there was the plot, or lack there of.  What a convoluted mess.  Honestly, I felt that the director was having so much fun showing off his cast and special effects that he forgot they were supposed to be doing something Рthe mission Рwhich, again, was all over the place.  With a comic book history that spans 75 years, there are a number of topics to choose from, and yet this is where they really fell flat.

harleyThe one redeeming thing in the whole movie: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. ¬†Besides being absolutely gorgeous, her sweet-crazy performance was the highlight of the film, in addition to the very few interactions we got with Jared Leto’s Joker. ¬†Long time comic book fans are well aware of the twisted relationship they share, and considering the information of how much footage was shot of the two, I think most movie goers were surprised/disappointed with the less than 10 mins¬†that actually appeared in the film.

This is probably because they were trying to make leads of all their characters, and now this is why so many fans are calling for a Harley/Joker film with these two actors reprising the roles.  They were fun to watch.


Sadly, this film was an overall disappointment. ¬†It had its moments of comedy, but they were few and far between. ¬†Comic books are fun, and yes, they often deal with real world problems, but the characters that are coming to save the day wear tights and capes. ¬†Regardless of wanting these stories to feel “real” with a darker side, they should maintain their levity and fun.

Well, that’s my take any way. ¬†If you saw the film, what did you think?

A Rambling Review: Les Revenants (aka The Returned)


I love any show or film that keeps you guessing after it’s over. ¬†Days later, you find yourself still wondering what some things meant and still have some pretty big questions. ¬†The French supernatural drama, Les Revenants aka The Returned is just this type of show.

Currently contained within two seasons of just 16 episodes, with no talks of a third season, you will find partial closure and yet be left with that open ended feeling knowing there are no answers to be found. ¬†At least not yet, if ever. ¬†It’s one of those rare gems that¬†lets you ponder its meaning – something I consider very French.

I’m not sure how I discovered the show initially, I think it was recommended by someone I follow somewhere, and I’m glad to have found it, although the wait between seasons was unbearable at over two years. ¬†Both seasons are now available on Netflix.

The story is based on the 2004 film They Came Back, and is about the return of a small town’s deceased residents for no apparent reason. ¬†They don’t all return at the same time, and many of them died at different times throughout the years, leaving the townspeople and their loved ones confused and frightened.


They don’t look like zombies. ¬†They don’t even look dead. ¬†They don’t bear any marks of how they died and many of them have memory issues¬†depending on how long they’ve been gone, so they’re just as confused. ¬†It makes for an interesting story to see how some of them are welcomed back to their lives¬†while some are not.

Then there is the trouble with the town’s dam. ¬†The entire first season I remember looking at the water and thinking, “What’s really going on in there?”

It’s hard not to go into too much detail with only 16 episodes and four “families” primarily to follow. ¬†This review could easily be much longer, but I want to keep all the mystery alive (pun intended?). ¬†ūüôā

With so much to watch nowadays, I’ve become rather picky with which shows I stick with and which I give up. ¬†If a show doesn’t grab me within the first few episodes, I don’t want to waste my time. ¬†I know I’ll get flack for this, but I couldn’t get into Breaking Bad or, more recently, Daredevil – two shows loved by nearly everyone I know. ¬†You may find the pacing of The Returned¬†a bit slow initially, but that is part of the magic of this¬†series¬†in particular. ¬†You get to see quiet moments in these people’s lives, and because of that, you feel you understand some of the characters better.

The Returned has an American spinoff that was airing nearly simultaneously and I don’t understand why. ¬†This is one aspect of the Hollywood system that baffles me. ¬†Why was creating a new show based on a current show necessary? ¬†Are subtitles too difficult or cumbersome for the American audience? ¬†Besides, the American version was cancelled after one season. ¬†So no closure for you guys.

I hope for a third season because I would love to see a bit more of this story and its¬†people, and get some answers to those questions still rattling around, but if that doesn’t happen, we can feel some of that unsettling closure that comes with foreign film.

Have you seen the show? ¬†Or its American counterpart? ¬†What are your thoughts? ¬†I’d really love to discuss some of my theories, so join me in the comments!

10 Films That Surprised Me In the Last 10 Years

After my post about the unfortunate Crimson Peak, I started thinking about the movies I have seen and loved. ¬†They had to be out there, right?! ¬†I’m kidding, of course. ¬†I can easily list a number of films I’ve seen in the last few years that¬†I thought were brilliantly done.

Oddly enough, in my email the following day there was a message from StumbleUpon, a site I haven’t visited in quite a while, about The 30 Best Films of the Decade¬†(this list discusses films from 2000-2009). ¬†I decided to utilize this list as a spring board to create my own “10 best in the last 10”.

This was a difficult task. ¬†There really have been some¬†wonderful films in the last 10 years, a great many of them that I still have yet to see are on a virtual running list, so this list is about the films that truly surprised me and left a lasting impression from a variety of genres; those I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw them.

In order of their release date, I present to you the following:

W&GdvdWallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) – I adore this animated film. ¬†The characters make their full length feature debut in this wonderful tale about a man and his dog trying to save the annual giant vegetable competition from a destructive¬†beast with a taste for veg. ¬†The thing I discovered about Wallace and Gromit, and why I love it, is the subtle humor and the dark side of their stories. ¬†Almost more for adults because of the humor, kids can definitely still enjoy the movie because they won’t understand half the jokes anyway, just like Pixar films. ¬†This one takes multiple viewings to catch all the little nuances and cleverly placed verbal and visual cues, and then you’ll find yourself like The Sis and I, quoting it fairly regularly in your daily life.

PansLabyrinthPan’s Labyrinth (2006) – The Sis had not seen this film prior to Halloween, but after watching Crimson Peak, and being disappointed, I encouraged her to watch this beautiful, moving, and surprising adult fairytale by Guillermo del Toro. ¬†This import was nominated for dozens and dozens of awards, and one viewing will give you the insight as to why. ¬†Set in the 40s during a rebellion against the fascist government in Spain, a young girl with a wonderful imagination takes a journey to discover who she really is. ¬†I like to mix reality and fantasy in my own writing and I think that’s why this film struck me – it does exactly that, perfectly.

VforVendettaV for Vendetta (2006) – I knew nothing of this film upon seeing it, and I’m not sure who introduced me to it, but I enjoyed every minute of it. ¬†I like the idea of alternate universes, and the idea of “what if” in regards to history. ¬†England is in a police state following Germany’s win in WWII, and V, voiced by Hugo Weaving, is considered a terrorist for his actions that would lead the people to freedom from their government. ¬†Along his journey he saves a young woman (Natalie Portman) and discovers an ally to his cause. ¬†One of my favorite aspects of this film is that we never see V’s face. ¬†He wears the Guy Fawkes mask the entire time, and although you think that would lead the audience to disconnect, it’s more symbolic that he could be any of us.

Lars&RealGirlLars and the Real Girl (2007) – I turned this film on out of curiosity and discovered a truly moving film. ¬†Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a man who is sort of detached. ¬†He doesn’t like to be touched, and desperate to find a connection, orders himself a girlfriend – a full size doll. ¬†Despite his family’s protest, that he’s crazy, a doctor encourages them and the whole town to embrace his delusion, and his girlfriend becomes an active member of society. ¬†It sounds strange, but it’s a wonderful story about family and how easy it is to write someone off rather than try to help them. ¬†As adults it’s easy to become self-involved, we constantly worry what others might think, and sometimes we want the easy way out of a situation, but this film shows us otherwise.

LetTheRightOneInLet the Right One In (2008) – I had already read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist¬†before seeing the film, a rarity, so I knew the story going in, but the film still surprised me. ¬†This Swedish film about the bond of friendship is¬†an interesting take on the vampire genre. ¬†Oskar is a shy boy, bullied at school, who befriends his new, odd neighbor, Eli. ¬†Oskar comes off as a bit of a goof, but he’s a 12 year old boy, so, you know, it’s expected, and Eli is wary of him, but also intrigued. ¬†Eli is compelling to watch, and going against Hollywood standards of “beauty”, there is something so interesting about her. ¬†The story builds like a romance, so much so that sometimes you forget you’re watching, what is technically, a horror movie. ¬†An American remake was filmed within 2 years and it wasn’t nearly as memorable. ¬†Give the original a watch.

TropicThunderTropic Thunder (2008) – You may find this a surprising add to the list, but I think it’s an underrated comedy about the Hollywood system. ¬†Ben Stiller directed the film, and there are a few versions available strangely, but despite not loving all of Stiller’s films, this one is hilarious. ¬†I’m not kidding. ¬†Stiller plays the typical action star who has had a string of flops, including a turn in a serious role as a man with a mental disorder who has been cast as the lead of a¬†Vietnam War epic based on a novel. ¬†His costars are Jack Black, a crude comedy actor, Robert Downey Jr., a multiple Academy Award winning actor who really gets into his roles, and Brandon T. Jackson, a rapper who wants to break¬†into acting. ¬†They end up having to become actual soldiers as the location where they’re shooting is an actual war zone. ¬†There are homages to other war films, the jokes are funny to those who know about Hollywood, and the casting choices, I thought, were spot on. ¬†One of my favorite parts of the film is the fake trailers at the beginning of the film.

District9District 9 (2009) – As you know, I like sci-fi. ¬†I’m currently writing a space odyssey. ¬†So believe me when I say, this movie completely took me by surprise. ¬†This is not an invasion film like so many other alien movies, it’s about what¬†happens when they seek refuge. ¬†They become second class citizens, relegated to internment camps, where their well-being is not a concern, but learning more about their technology is. ¬†They are not cute, friendly looking aliens, they are hard, bug-like creatures which makes empathizing with them an even greater challenge, and one director Blomkamp achieves. ¬†This story could be looked at as a metaphor, but let’s keep it simple. ¬†This story takes place through the eyes of¬†a government worker who contracts an illness upon visiting one of the districts, and learns first hand how cruel and brutal the humans are and have been to their refugees. ¬†There have been rumors of a sequel for years, and after watching this film, you’ll definitely want one.

FantasticMrFoxFantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – This is the first of two Wes Anderson films on my list. ¬†I didn’t plan it, I swear. ¬†The Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the book by Roald Dahl, one of my favorite writers, and is the perfect story for Anderson’s signature style. ¬†Using stop motion animation, this is the story of Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) who is doing his best to fight his true nature for the sake of his family. ¬†Eventually he can’t fight it any longer, and his stealing starts a war with three local farmers. ¬†First off, the film is beautiful. ¬†Then there’s that subtle humor and dark side again that I so enjoy. ¬†You don’t have to have children to watch this or Wallace and Gromit, and you don’t have to be embarrassed that you liked them, just remember that animated films can be smart and fun.

IngloriousBasterdsInglorious Basterds (2009) – By far, my absolute favorite Tarantino film, and one of my favorite movies in long time. ¬†Following that same “what if” idea that I like, Tarantino proposes a fantasy about ending WWII by killing Hitler and his closest advisors. ¬†This film introduced us to a wonderful villain, and the actor who played him, Christoph Waltz, that I think scared more people with his cool demeanor, and random bursts of excitement, than any horror movie villain. ¬†I tried to stay away from the big-budget Hollywood movies for this list, and as I think Tarantino is still more of an¬†independent director, I think I can get away by adding this one. ¬†His signature brutality is still prevalent (and how could it not be in a war movie?!), as is his penchant for killing off everyone, but you still leave the film satisfied.

GrandBudapestHotelThe Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – I appreciate Wes Anderson’s sense of humor, but that wasn’t always the case. ¬†It had taken a few years of cultivating my own dry sense of humor to appreciate his work more fully. ¬†Sometimes his stories take a strange turn, but that was not the case here, and that is why I was so pleased with Grand Budapest. ¬†As The Sis is a big fan of Ralph Fiennes, we were going to see this movie regardless, but what we discovered was a beautiful film with a wonderful, surprising story – it is no wonder why this is considered his best work. ¬†Keeping in line with his signature style and set in the 30s, a grand (pink) hotel serves as the backdrop for a mystery involving Fiennes’ character, Gustave H., the hotel’s concierge, who provides his clients world class service. ¬†Along with his prot√©g√©, Zero, the lobby boy, they embark on a unique adventure. ¬†This film garnered Anderson a slew of nominations, including best film, and it is because of his quirky characters and interesting story that you will understand why.

So there you have it.  When I first started putting together my list, I was at nearly 30 movies that I considered truly wonderful in the last 10 years, so as you can see, this was really taxing to decide on just 10 (and by no means is this list complete).

I’d love to hear from you. ¬†Do you agree with my list? ¬†What movies have you loved these past 10 years?