Stand by Me

Emmy says:
I love it. Faithfully adapted from the original novella and lovingly moulded into a outstanding hit. The director, brilliant, the actors, outstanding, the music, infectious. Definitely a movie to watch again and again. 10/10.

Jeff says:
Some movies you know are classics – even if you haven’t seen them, you know them. This is one of those films. I had read Different Seasons many years ago, but (apart from The Shawshank Redemption) hadn’t worried about the movies. This was Rob Reiner’s third movie, and he already shows his deft hand. The cast list is full of names have have since become household, a testament to the great casting. One of the best, while still faithful, adaptations of King’s work. 10/10.

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Christine

Emmy says:
I get streamlining the story to fit a movie time frame, and the adjustment of characters to fit the altered timeline and plot, but squishing Christine until it’s basically a 2-D scribble of the original has made this movie flat and dull. The characters have been stripped to a single characteristic and pushed to the extreme. There has been no effort made to convey the sense of unease Christine creates. Would love to see this remade by someone who actually cares about the source material. 3/10.

Jeff says:
It’s fairly obvious that (as reported) John Carpenter’s heart wasn’t in this one – which is a tragedy because I think he could have done a lot with this story. Sadly, this version is a bad Google Translate of the Cliff Notes version of the story. Plot points and personalities are conflated for no good reason, there’s no building of dread around the car and there is WAY too much ‘tell not show’ which is always bad. We loved the book so much we rushed to watch this as soon as possible after finishing … I wish we hadn’t. Fortunately, the book was so good that the memory can’t be ruined by this film even though it tried. 3/10.

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Corpse Bride

Emmy says:
Fun songs, great animations, a pleasant detour from live action film. 7/10.

Jeff says:
There is a point where Tim Burton films seem … well, all the same. There is also a point (some time around Sleepy Hollow) where Johnny Depp stopped being fun to watch. Given these two things, it’s sometimes hard to remember when that combination worked. The 2005-released Corpse Bride is an example of what I call good Tim Burton – think Beetlejuice and the 90’s Batman movies. A fun and silly romp that doesn’t have pretensions of being anything else. 9/10.

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Apt Pupil

Emmy says:
As a movie Apt Pupil is good, as an adaptation of a book I have read I’m woefully disappointed. The two main characters are nowhere near as disturbing as King wrote them. An entire aspect is missing from Todd, which changed the downfall at the start of act 3 to something I don’t like. The acting and directing were good, just not what I had expected. 7/10.

Jeff says:
It’s always interesting seeing how King’s shorter stories get adapted. Even for a novella, a lot was left out or truncated to make room in this 111 minute film. While I understand the reasons for changing the ending, the impact is lost from the original story. Even for a 10 year old film, I stand by our goal to avoid spoilers – so I won’t say what should have been left out to make room for what was in the book – but there were scenes and imagery added that could have been left out. Still, the creeping horror of what people are capable of is there, and that was done well even if some of the secondary characters seemed rather flat and/or pointless. 7/10.

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Village of the Damned (1995)

Emmy says:
I originally watched this when I was around 12 and one image had lodged itself in my brain, the rest of was forgotten. This time around I remembered things moments before they happened and found myself cringing in anticipation. This movie still packs quite a punch and is very enjoyable for the thriller it is. Just one question: how do you find child actors this good? 8/10

Jeff says:
I knew about this film, and the plot, but had never seen it. A discussion on John Carpenter films led to the rectification of this oversight. The acting from the children is incredible (Mara and David at any rate), the adults were less compelling. Many aspects left unexplained (how did the village put up with the children for so long, or did they grow abnormally fast?) Visual effects were essentially what to expect from the mid-90s. Interested to see/read/hear what the 1957 novel (‘The Midwich Cuckoos’) was like. 7/10.

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Happy Death Day

Emmy says:
Horror film meets John Hughes. Great repetition without being repetitive. Surprisingly light-hearted for a slasher film. 9/10.

Jeff says:
This film starts as a standard teen slasher film, but ends up being a heart-warming story with some actual emotional depth that still manages to surprise at the end. Well acted by the main characters (some of the secondary characters were a bit two dimensional), and surprisingly gore free for a Blumhouse slasher film. 9/10.

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Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Emmy says:
Getting blindsided has never been more educational. An in-depth look at the structure of comedy and the impact it has on humanity and humans. It was hilarious and uncomfortable and more than worth watching. 10/10.

Jeff says:
I don’t have the right to offer my opinion. Watch this and you’ll understand why. Watch this and you’ll understand why we’re adding this to our site even though it’s not technically a movie. Watch this and learn about our shared humanity, with jokes. Watch this – everyone should. 10/10 isn’t high enough.

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Fargo

Emmy says:
I really enjoyed the characters, unfortunately this movie was let down by its haphazard story. 7/10.

Jeff says:
Having watched Season 1 of the TV series, this was a little underwhelming. The characters were fantastic, and so was the production (mostly). Unfortunately, season 1 of the TV show riffed on many of the beats from the movie and so watching the film now makes it seem a little anaemic. I suspect I would have appreciated this a lot more if I wasn’t painfully aware of the comparison. 7/10.

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Where The Wild Things Are

Emmy says:
This was a way more uncomfortable and depressing film than I expected, given that it’s based on a children’s book. The creatures looked cool, but there’s little else to recommend it. 6/10.

Jeff says:
I’m fairly confident that I’m not the target audience for this movie. To be honest though, I don’t know who is. Visually, this is a gorgeous film … it’s just sad that I don’t like any of the main characters. Douglas is probably my favourite, but that doesn’t mean much in this context. Essentially one long temper-tantrum shared among a variety of creatures that ebbs and flows. No-one is given time and reason to be all that likeable, and so I found myself not caring about the outcome. This movie raised lots of questions, mostly around “why did you decide to do it that way?” 4/10.

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Split

Emmy says:
It’s a pity I saw the trailer before the movie, because I’m curious as to when I would have picked up on all the different personalities. I want to know more about the Horde. I was definitely along for the ride, but that was because the acting was driving (the story was in the back seat). I just wish the film generated more of an empathetic response. My rating is only this high because of James McAvoy. 9/10.

Jeff says:
This movie was worth all the hype. A Shyamalan/Blumhouse film almost sounds like it shouldn’t work, and yet it does – amazingly well. Most of this comes down to James McAvoy’s incredible performances (since he had many roles). Sadly, the rest of the cast were almost disposable – while they also acted amazingly well, they weren’t well serviced by the script. I sense, watching this, that the world-building (I can’t spoilt that now, can I?) at the end was tacked on … I feel the film would have ended better with McAvoy’s last scene. Still, hyped for the next film in this world. 9/10.

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Emmy says:
Absolutely loved the sepia-toned colour correction, the use of real-life character cameos, and the ingenious use of period accurate music. An absolutely fun ride, and one I will definitely revisit. 10/10.

Jeff says:
After finally getting the Mrs to start watching Fargo (the TV series), I wanted to give her a direct taste of the Coen Brothers. I saw this movie when it first came out, and I have always loved it. The music is amazing, even if the dubbing is terrible when it comes to the singing. This was one of the first Coen Brothers movies I saw where I knew it theirs going in (and what that meant). Great characters, and fantastic dialogue. The reworking of Homer’s The Odyssey is well done without being too obvious along the way. The digital colour-correction lends a old-fashioned look, and adds to the surreal quality of the story. I wonder what Coen Brothers film I should introduce her to next? 10/10.

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The Shawshank Redemption

Emmy says:
I like how dialogue was taken directly from the book for this film. The condensing of characters (like the warden) streamlined the film for audiences. The use of colour (restricted to browns, blues and greys inside, compared to outside) was excellent. A very nice film. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I have always loved this movie. There are liberties with the source story – some simplifications for the sake of time while others involved very different story arcs for those characters. There’s nothing wrong with that – and it helps keep the suspense for those who had already read the book. I consider this a great adaptation of a King story despite this. I found myself noticing for the first time the absence of background music – the real quiet was palpable at key moments. Well acted by all, and Darabont’s direction was outstanding. 9/10.

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