Movie Monthly – August ’20 Edition

Another month, another bunch of monthly movies that I have watched (and in most cases enjoyed). Also, the cinemas have re-opened in the UK, so I even got to see a few of these on big screens and mostly feeling securely social distanced. Although I would say for anyone not feeling so confident, check your local cinema’s policy, and aim for the outer, less popular seats, or as I plan to do once my unlimited card has expired, stick to watching films at home where you can talk, fidget, eat loudly and pause to go to the loo with far less commotion than a cinema.

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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Nightmare on Elm Street, a group of teens find that someone is trying and able to hurt them in their dreams. As the villain Freddie Kruger begins trying to pick the teens off one by one, Nancy tries everything she can to stay awake and save herself and her friends.

My first cinema outing post-COVID cinema closures. I am not necessarily a big horror fan, although have definitely been watching more lately. Typically I think it is the gore that typically puts me off the genre, but thankfully as a film from the 80s, the effects were a little less believable/graphic and as such I quite enjoyed this. Maybe it will tempt me into more of the franchise.

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EX MACHINA (2014)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In Ex Machina, Caleb, a programmer is invited to the home of his reclusive boss to test if he believes Ava (an artificial intelligence robot) is capable of original thought and decision making.

I technically finished this film in August, as I started it earlier in the year on Netflix. It was an incredibly well acted film. The plot was designed to make you think, especially in relation to AI and gender politics but it just… didn’t completely absorb me. I wanted to enjoy it more, maybe if I watch it again all in one go one day my thoughts will change, or maybe this will be one of those films that slowly drift from my memory.

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MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO (1988)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Satsuki and Mei move with their father to be nearer to their mother who is in hospital. Whilst getting used to their new home, they stumble across Totoro living in their garden.

I am woefully unfamiliar with the Studio Ghibli film catalogue, but thankfully Netflix has come to my rescue and I am starting with some of the more well know titles. I have seen plushie/cartoon Totoro’s for years, and now I can finally understand the background. I really enjoyed this film – not my favourite that I’ve seen so far, but I really enjoy the animation of the films, (I watched the subbed version so cannot really comment of the acting), the music was delightful and I am sure this will be rewatched at a future date when I need a blanket day.

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INCEPTION (2010)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dom Cobb is known for his skills at building teams to steal secrets from marks dreams for wealthy clients. When a mark turns the tables, he is asked to perform Inception, planting an idea and making the mark believe it was all his decision, but a lot can go wrong in the dream world, especially when you’re haunted by ghosts of the past.

This was my only rewatch… and in cinema IMAX. I will not go into great lengths how much I love Inception, but it is a lot, a lot. I think it may be because the film encouraged me to “Dream a Little Bigger” when I saw it in the cinema 10 years ago. It gives a mixture of layered plot, interesting characters and a brilliant mix of CGI & actual amazing physical effects. I completely and accept a lot of the criticisms about how Nolan treats the (limited) female characters in this. And whilst it would never happen (and I would probably complain), if they wanted to prequel a film about either Eames or Arthur, I am game.

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CIRCLE (2015)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fifty strangers awake to find themselves stood in a circle. If they try to leave their, they die, but if they stay every two minutes someone dies. Either the group can choose, but how do you decide who gets to live or die?

This was an interesting premise and parts of it I really enjoyed. I didn’t know any of the actors, so it wasn’t obvious on the whole who was making it through. The problems I did have with it was that some of the characters that made it quite far through seemed quite unbelievable given the discussions being had. Also the token child seemed unlikely if this truly was meant to be a random selection of the population.

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THE DEAD DON’T DIE (2019)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Zombies come back to live in a small American town. (That’s it, that is basically the entire plot).

This is another film I started a while back, and then ended up finish in August, (NowTV not Netflix this time). There were a number of big name actors in this so I expected something reasonable, I wasn’t sure if it was due to be a comedy, action or satire. Ultimately I would say it wasn’t really any of the above, there were subplots that went no-where. Several characters randomly disappeared or died within limited exposition (and I hated the theme song). Adam Driver’s character was probably my favourite but also randomly kept breaking the fourth wall without rhyme or reason to why it happened. Mostly I just found it very slow, and dare I say somewhat boring.

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BUFFALOED (2019)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Peg hates her hometown of Buffalo, she hates being poor and decides she wants to find a way out by making money as quickly as possible. But following some poor choices, she finds her career opportunities limited and ends up in the dog eat dog world of debt collectors.

A little off track, but can I firstly say that the styling of Zoey Deutch as Peg in this film was brilliant. I loved her clothes and I thought she looked stunning – moving on. This is one of those films where you find yourself somewhat frustrated with a character who keeps making terrible decisions. But at the same time, it kept me engaged and it was an interesting premise – I also learned a bit about debt collecting in the US (some of which probably applies somewhat to the UK too). Definitely worth a watch if you have Netflix!

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COMING TO AMERICA (1988)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Prince Akeem has come of age, and as such is expected to marry the women picked out by his parents. But in search of a wife with thoughts and hobbies that were not based on his, he decides he must travel to find a wife. To Queens, NY in America.

My Mum references this film on a somewhat regular basis, so I thought it was probably about time I gave it a watch. I really enjoyed this film, I especially enjoyed the imagined monarchy which Prince Akeem was the heir next in line for the throne. I also appreciated that this was a film from the 80’s that had a mostly black cast, given that Hollywood is known for having diversity issues. A funny somewhat romantic comedy, also worth a watch for any Netflix subscribers.

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TENET (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Protagonist finds himself drawn into the mysterious world of Tenet. Those who know about Tenet know that time is not always linear, sometimes it is inverted, but so do the criminals.

Where to start. (The Inception rewatch was in preparedness for finally seeing this film). As you’d anticipate now from a Christopher Nolan film, this is a film you have to think about. And at the midway point, I will admit I was starting to worry that I was too lost to pick the plot back up. (A few of the issues I believe were caused by struggling to hear what some of the actors were saying – not sure if this was a cinema issue, but any rewatch will be with subtitles). It was perhaps too nuanced for me to really have picked up on all the hints and tricks. But both The Protagonist and Neil were brilliantly played and unsurprisingly the visuals were stunning. There is a scene with a plane that is not CGI and the end sequences.

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What films have you been watching? And do you have any recommendations for me in September?

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