Monday, March 19, 2018

Hot Fuzz

Release year: 2007
Production company: StudioCanal
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, Peter Wight, Martin Freeman

Over-achieving London police officer Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is reassigned to the quiet country village of Sandford because, frankly, none of the other officers in London can touch Angel's ambition and he's making the rest of the police force look bad! Angel has a rough time adjusting to the quiet breed of crime in Sandford - petty shoplifters, tracking down a lost swan - and an even harder time adjusting to his idiot partner Danny Butterman (Frost). But when a series of murders shake the village and a creepy grocer rubs Angel the wrong way, it's time to blow this case wide open and find out what sinister secret Sandford is hiding!

Feeling like Shaun of the Dead meets Let's Be Cops, Hot Fuzz was a hilarious thrill ride that I totally wasn't expecting!! I knew that Shaun of the Dead was the first movie in a trilogy that starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, called The Cornetto Trilogy - I prefer The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy but that's just me! - alongside Hot Fuzz, and The World's End but what I didn't expect was for Hot Fuzz to be so drastically different from Shaun of the Dead, but also so similar at the same time! I had all these movies pegged as gory horror-comedies...but that's far from the truth! Shaun of the Dead focus on the horror, Hot Fuzz is an action-comedy, and The World's End caps off the series as a science fiction-comedy! What a fun range! But of all three movies, Hot Fuzz is totally my favorite.

The first thing I initially loved about this movie was Simon Pegg. Not just because Simon Pegg is wonderful in all things he does, but because he's such a different character than I'm used to seeing! I'm used to Simon Pegg being mild-mannered, slightly hysterical, and generally very silly and funny. In Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg is the action hero! He's leaping over cars, tossing out cheesy action movie one-liners, he's toting a gun! I thought it would be weird but I like Simon Pegg as an action hero! I can't say much about Nick Frost because he's still playing the bumbling idiot character I'm accustomed to thanks to Shaun of the Dead. But Simon Pegg completely stole the show!

It's weird seeing Simon Pegg being a badass, but he totally did it!!

Aside from Simon Pegg's amazing-ness, I was so in love with the plot! Most cop movies go in an opposite direction where the big fish is moved from his small pond and get's swallowed up by the big city. But in this movie, our hero is now chasing swans through parks! Hilarious! Now, just because this is an action comedy doesn't mean that we've left everything from the previous movie in the past - this movie is shockingly gory and gross! The murders are gruesome, explosive, and gooey! We get blood, guts, and gore alongside our action! Such a perfect combination! I loved that this movie took so many different elements - action, gore, comedy - and wove them into the most perfect movie. I loved every second and laughed like crazy! Hot Fuzz is excellent!

These boys and their swan are bringing the pain!

Hot Fuzz gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of action movies or cop movies that also have an uproarious sense of humor baked in. The main reason I watched Hot Fuzz was because I own a copy of The World's End, which I've never seen, and wanted to get prepared and also cross this trilogy off of my To-Watch List. Now I am fully prepared - bring on The World's End!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Wind Rises

Release year: 2013
Production company: Studio Ghibli
Voice talents: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blint, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci

Based on a remarkable true story, Jiro Horikoshi (Gordon-Levitt) grew up with a love of airplanes and grew up to fulfill his dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer. During the height of World War II, Jiro broke ground designing daring new Japanese fighter planes and gained notoriety all throughout Japan and even Germany. The movie also goes on to show his budding romance with the love of his life - Nahoko Satomi (Blunt) - who bravely battled tuberculosis during their relationship, while examining how Jiro balanced his booming career while taking care of his ailing wife.

Feeling like Howl's Moving Castle meets the poignancy of Memoirs of a Geisha, The Winds Rises was such a delightfully different take on Studio Ghibli's movies. Rather than focusing on all fantasy, they incorporated all those wonderful elements of magic and wonder and applied them to a biographical story. What a treat! If this had been a live-action movie, I wouldn't have given the plot a second thought. But because I blindly dove into a Studio Ghibli movie, I learned about a man's story I would have otherwise had no interest in. Wow!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the best choice for the voice of
this character - so dashing and velvety smooth!

As per usual, Studio Ghibli tells the story of The Wind Rises with gorgeous animation and delightful characters. There is also so much magic and excitement packed into the way the movie was directed, drawn, and into the musical score accompanying the's so exciting and dazzling! I got a little nervous when I clued into the fact that this movie took place during World War II, I started getting flashbacks to the much more tragic Studio Ghibli movie Grave of the Fireflies...but I had nothing to worry about! Very little tragedy, fear, or death! Yay!! But this was still a much more serious movie than I expected. While I can see movies such as Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro being more kid-ccentric, The Wind Rises is definitely for a more mature audience but it is still plenty beautiful and delightful.

An incredible watch, you won't regret picking this one up!

The Wind Rises gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of Studio Ghibli and biography type movies - such a wonderful hybrid! I have never had much interest in Japanese history, but if more historical movies were made by Studio Ghibli, I would line up to see them all! Prepare to be thrilled, and wooed by The Wind Rises, another glorious addition to Studio Ghibli's impressive track record.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Release year: 1988
Production company: Lucasfilm
Starring: Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh

When it is prophesized that the rule of the evil Queen Bavmorda (Marsh) will come from a young woman, all babies in the land are ordered to be killed! But one little girl is sent floating in a river to safety where she is discovered by dwarf magician Willow (Davis) who must journey to find a responsible, average-sized person to take care of the baby. But while Willow is journeying through enchanted lands trying to find such a person, he learns that this baby is the one destined to grow up and challenge Queen Bavmorda! Willow must keep the little girl safe at all costs!

Feeling like Legend meets The Black Cauldron, Willow is a delightful 80's fantasy adventure with a marvelous cast! I've only had brief encounters with Warwick Davis as an actor - sorry, but yes it was Leprechaun... - but this movie truly made him shine! He's such a dashing, unexpected hero! I almost expected Val Kilmer to overshadow him - no pun intended, oops - but this was totally Warwick Davis' movie! Yay! I loved the magic and mysticism of the plot, they just don't make fantasy movies like this anymore. Sweeping beautiful sets, queens and princesses decked out in jewels and flowing gowns, practical effects used for creatures and magic...this is a lost art right here! My only issue is that this movie felt pretty long for me. Of all the 80's fantasy movies I am a fan of, I am probably least likely to watch Willow again just because it felt slow and it went on for far longer than I felt it needed to. But if you love these kinds of movies then don't listen to me, you will love it.

A very different dynamic duo, but they were a great pair!

Willow gets a 4 OF 5 must own for fans of fantasy movies, and 80's movies heavy on practical effects. It's a silly, fun, magical journey that I highly recommend if you love classic fairy tale-esque stories. You will not be disappointed!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Whip It

Release year: 2009
Production company: Mandate Pictures
Starring: Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Marica Gay Harden, Daniel Stern

17 year old Bliss (Page) has succumbed to the fact that her life will never be extraordinary. She will always be a disappointment to her mother (Harden) who enrolls Bliss to compete in beauty pageants despite the fact that Bliss' personal style leans more toward the alternative side. She will always be a a waitress in a crummy diner. And she will always be hopelessly undateable. But one night in Austin, Texas Bliss attends a roller derby event and her life changes! She auditions and makes the team for the Hurl Scouts, her local roller derby team, and quickly becomes one of the best players on the team! But Bliss has to keep her roller derby a secret from her overbearing mother...and she also has to make sure none of the girls on the Hurl Scouts learns that she's only 17 instead of the required 21 years old. How long can Bliss keep up the double life?

Feeling like Death Proof meets Juno on skates, Whip It was a fantastic surprise!! I was never convinced that a movie about roller derby would be a decent fit for me - I'm perfectly fine with roller derby but don't really have any passionate feelings toward it the same way I would have those feelings toward football or boxing movies - I'm looking at you Invincible and Southpaw! But I misjudged this movie a lot. It's fantastic. Everything about it is fantastic. Whip It won!

Ellen Page is a fantastic star in this movie, she is so good at playing young girl characters who are unsure of the person they want to become but they know how to chase after things that make them happy. I also loved that this cast was made up of primarily spunky, outrageous women all having fun and loving life - it gives this movie excellent drive and a great sense of fun. I also have to applaud Drew Barrymore. This movie was her directorial debut, and I love that she chose to play such a minimal character rather than attempt to hog the spotlight and attempt to drive the whole machine on her own - I'm looking at you Kevin Costner, you need to chill out sir.

Did Drew Barrymore do any other movies?? After Whip
It, I want to see everything she's directed! She did so good!

This is a movie where I would be super excited to sit down and watch the bonus features, the actual roller derby parts of the movie are very intense! What kind of training did these girls go through? How did they simulate the punches and hits and all the blood??? How much was real? How much was pretend? This was clearly a very labor-intensive movie and it doesn't go unnoticed! The running time seems to fly by, you become completely entranced by the movie and love every second of it. Whip It is fantastic.

This girls kicked ass, it was so fun to watch!

Whip It gets a 5 OF 5 must own for sports movie fans, those who love indie coming-of-age movies, and those who are fans of strong female-driven movies. Whip It is a fast and furious thrill ride and a triumph of female friendship and growing up. I cannot recommend Whip It highly enough!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Wiz

Release year: 1978
Production company: Motown Productions
Starring: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross

Young Dorothy (Ross) and her little dog Toto are forced out of their comfortable lives in Harlem when a powerful blizzard flings them into the magical world of Oz! In Oz, Dorothy is directed to followed the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where she will find The Wiz (Pryor) who will hopefully be able to get her home to New York. Along the road, Dorothy makes friends with a sweet Scarecrow (Jackson), a silly Tinman (Russell), and a cowardly lion (Ross) who accompany Dorothy to the Emerald City in hopes of getting their own wishes fulfilled too.

Feeling like The Wizard of Oz meets a much happier Boyz n the Hood, boy was this movie straaaaaange. I love the idea of a reinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz, especially one that is more modern and also incorporates a different style of music altogether. But I feel like The Wiz tried a little too hard to stand on it's own and wound up out in left field. Everything about it was really off and a little too much. Sorry, but this Wiz isn't so wonderful...

I loved the cast of characters in this movie, Diana Ross was a fantastic Dorothy and Ted Ross was a hilarious lion! But my favorite was Michael Jackson as the mild-mannered, sweetie pie Scarecrow - his voice, his mannerisms, his dance moves, the fact that he would literally pull fortune cookie fortunes out of sleeves that perfectly highlighted the situation at hand - he was so cute! But the cast was really where all the good stuff ended. The music is fantastic...but there is just way too much of it. In a good musical there are multiple strong, powerhouse songs...but in The Wiz there is way too much music. There are a couple of stand out songs - "Ease on Down the Road" is great! - but in between all the major songs are oodles of little ditties that feel more like filler because someone didn't want to write dialogue. It got very redundant and the whole movie started blending together...and 2 hours was way too much time for the same kind of song to pretty much be playing on a loop.

"Ease on Down the Road" definitely got stuck in my head, 
I'm not mad about that at least!

I didn't mind the plot of the movie either, it's basically The Wizard of Oz so there is no issue there. But the whole movie still had a feel of trying too hard while also doing way too much. The costumes and characters are over-the-top ridiculous, trying to make themselves completely different from anything we would find in The Wizard of Oz. And I get that this is basically a blaxploitation musical...and maybe that's why we didn't mesh so well...but trying to cram the idea of an Interurban Oz down our throats was just painful. I really wasn't a fan. I guess Judy Garland was right all along, there's no place like home and home for me was The Wizard of Oz.

Sorry gang, you're cute but not that cute...

The Wiz gets a 2 OF 5 must own for fans of Motown music, Diana Ross, and the story of The Wizard of Oz. This movie didn't gel right with me, but I can see where others would be a fan. Use your own judgement...and your own caution. And if you don't like musicals in general, steer clear here!

THURSDAY NIGHT IS THE BEST NIGHT TO TUNE IN TO REAL PUNK RADIO!! Home to the Thursday Night Wrecking Pit, Real Punk Radio is your Thursday night destination for the best in Psychobilly radio programming. Starting tonight at 6pm PT Gone Mental will be kicking off the evening, and then at 7pm PT Zorch Radio takes over the reigns and rides out the evening til 9pm with the best in Psychotronic rock n' roll. So make sure to tune in to Real Punk Radio tonight!

Want to spend your night listening to something better than
The Wiz? Tune in to RPR!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

When Marnie Was There

Release year: 2014
Production company: Hakuhodo DY Media Partners
Voice talents: Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, John C. Reilly, Kathy Bates, Catherine O'Hara

When young Anna (voiced by Steinfeld) goes to stay with her Aunt (Bates) and Uncle (Reilly) in the countryside for her health, she meets a fantastic girl her age named Marnie (Kiernan). Anna and Marnie keep their friendship a secret, and the two meet at the marsh every night where they have adventures and engage in a game where they ask each other three questions every night. But as their time together goes on, Anna starts to learn more about Marnie's home life and learns that they are linked in the most incredible way...

When Marnie Was There is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen, almost to the point of rivaling Song of the Sea! The story is sweeping and tender, the animation is beautiful, and the whole movie couldn't be any more perfectly Studio Ghibli. I am in love, I don't know what more to say!

Just look at this scene! It's gorgeous!!

I adored the fact that the main character in this movie was such a sad, broken little girl who felt so unloved and so alone. And I love even more that she seemed to come to life when she made friends with this girl who was already so vibrant and boisterous! I loved the twist of the story, how it starts out pretty even keel but develops into a joyous story with a bittersweet ending that made me cry from both equal parts happiness and sadness. The story developed at such a good pace too - no lags, no drawn out scenes, no filler, everything was exactly where it needed to be. And the animation! Oh how beautiful!! The minute details and the dazzling colors used to bring the characters and setting to life, it was all brilliant! I have no issues, no qualms, no complaints. When Marnie Was There is painfully perfect, and I loved it.

These two girls are such sweet friends... I adore them together!

When Marnie Was There gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of Studio Ghibli films, friendship-based dramatic children's movies, and anime fans - this movie is a delightful spectacle to behold and I cannot sing it's praises enough! It's beautiful and wonderful!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Release year: 2015
Production company: MPI Media Group
Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman

A pair of New Zealand metal head teens form a band and play a song that accidentally opens up the gates of Hell! Now that Earth has become a festering nightmare of flesh-eating zombies and demons, lead guitarist Brodie (Cawthorne) and his best friend Zakk (Blake) must vanquish the demons and find a way to close the portal to the underworld...even if it is pretty brutal.

Feeling like the heavy-metal-coming-of-age version of Kung Fury meets Shaun of the Dead, I had heard nothing but praise for Deathgasm and have been excited to see it. And not only did it completely exceed my expectations, but it totally blew my mind! Deathgasm is FRIGGIN' AMAZING!!!

There's also a cute little high school romance in this movie, 
but don't be deterred. This movie is all metal!

Any movie about a social outcast is a movie that I won't be able to help falling in love with, and adorably shy main character Milo Cawthorne was just too cute to handle! Pairing him with the overly confident, but kind of jackass-y best friend James Blake was a killer combination. But the real winners of the entire movie were the plot and the gore!! The plot is so fantastically insane and fun! Teenagers not knowing what they're doing unleash Hell on Earth! Not to mention the fact that they're into metal, which is a fun side note too and gives the movie an epic soundtrack. And then there's the gore!! Oh the gore!! There are some computer generated effects used but there are TONS of ooey, gooey, slimey, crusty practical effects being splattered all over the place in this movie and it's deliciously disgusting!! I could not keep my eyes off of Deathgasm, and you're going to fall for it too!

You've been seated in the "Splash Zone", bring your poncho!

Deathgasm gets a 5 OF 5 must own for those who love gorey horror-comedy movies, movies with a heavy metal theme, and just generally badass movies! Deathgasm is all of those things and literally the best movie. Leave a comment below, where are all my Brothers of Steel at?!?!?

Brotherhood of Steel!!