Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

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So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.

September Blind Spot Review: JFK (1991)

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“Telling the truth can be a scary thing sometimes.”
– Jim Garrison

SYNOPSIS: New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there’s more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. – via IMDB

A movie about the JFK assassination? Man, this must have been tailor made for me! Ask anyone I know (Natasha knows about as well as my husband) how I feel about the Kennedy assassination. It is ridiculously fascinating and I love reading about it or watching things on it – it never gets old for me. So yeah, this is something I just never got to, and this was the year to correct that.

I think JFK is actually a great movie for someone to watch who doesn’t really know much about the Kennedy assassination, or the ludicrous explanations that were put forth about it, and that embarrassing investigation into it. Really, it covers a lot of relevant ground, and also happens to have another story over and above it, bringing to Zodiac to mind, because of watching Jim Garrison’s obsession with the case. A lot of research went into this and that is evident, but I would not say to go into this movie and take everything it presents as gospel, for reals. Look at it as entertainment, don’t take it as a hardcore documentary and the holy grail for answers to the JFK assassination. Enjoy it for the conspiracy it discusses.

The movie is shot well and I enjoyed the pacing – it is long, but takes the time to lay down the evidence and the story and then get going with it, which I liked, but I can see how it could annoy others. One also cannot deny that the movie looks and feels dated. The pacing was just fine here, and the performances were pretty damn good all around. I was so engrossed by the telling of this from Stone, how the case was presented and researched and pursued. It was quite tense and definitely entertaining. There are obviously a lot of issues with the movie in the sense that there are a lot of fictitious characters brought in and spewing “facts” and Stone sets out the good guys and the bad guys in a classic black and white way without actually finessing anything there. The movie is also presented as “fact”, which at times is a little difficult to swallow, and you can see a lot of confirmation bias going on for Garrison at times. That being said, this movie had a lot of things to balance, from fact to fiction and everything in between.

Overall, JFK is an entertaining watch sure to keep you hooked, especially if you enjoy conspiracies (whether you take them seriously or just like to hear what they are) and especially if you are interested about what happened that day in November of 1963, provided you don’t think this movie is going to give you all the answers, evidence and proof you are looking for. But as a movie taking a look at some of the conspiracies surrounding the assassination, balancing fact, fiction, everything? So worth it, truly.

11.22.63: Mini Series (2016)

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The opening credits. Heck yeah, it summed the book up perfectly, all the smaller things that the show might have missed. It was engaging and looked good.
  • Daniel Webber as Lee Harvey Oswald. This guy was good. Seriously. There were times where you actually felt pity for this man, dirt poor and a wee bit cuckoo, and other times where you were just like “you ass”.

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  • Al Templeton flashing in between the episodes, explaining more about the past, talking about his research and what he discovered, as well as sharing some of the history. It keeps things relevant, so it wasn’t all blandly said in the beginning, and then things referenced throughout the film and then just not making sense later.
  • The tension that the show builds. While it lacks at times, it really kicks other times.
  • The show is engaging. It has a doomed air, and gives you all you need to appreciate the setting, the concept, and how it will come together.

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  • The performances all round were actually really good.
  • Obviously I was a fan of the romance between Sadie and Jake. Man. Lovely. It was captured rather well here, albeit so much more different than what it should have been like.

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  • How Jake also did things that were against his character, just to try and bend the past to his will, no matter that the past is obdurate, and does not want to be changed. I think a particularly crazy scene to highlight this was the entire debacle with Bill and the psych ward.
  • Bringing in the Harry Dunning story so effectively. This was a big thing for me, and I think Leon Rippy was a great Harry. Gosh, that story was so painful, and I am glad we got to see some of it.

What I didn’t like: 

  • How much it deviates from the book.
  • Johnny Clayton in the show was just not as terrifying as the book. His role was totally different, and he didn’t tear into town and wreck Sadie’s life under disguise or shockingly. They knew he was there. Also, I wish 11.22.63 had captured how loopy the guy was. WTF?! They touched on it but didn’t own it.

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  • The Yellow Card Man was also not as mysterious as he should have been, or as scary. The use of him was rather heavy handed, and the lack of explanation was also rather grating. It was an incredibly bizarre change for me, and not a particularly good character here, and he should have been.
  • The time jumped around a lot, and that left you feeling like things had been missed, and progression of certain other things had been overlooked.
  • Some things just didn’t have enough background, and so did not carry a lot of weight and came across as forced, which is unfortunate.

Rating:
GRADE 7
So y’all know I finished the book recently. I am still hanging. I have not stopped thinking about it since then, and I really had a hard time committing to another book. I tried man, I really tried. Other books just don’t look as great by comparison. Naturally I got my hands on 11.22.63 and decided to give it a go with my husband, who will never take the time to read the book, but with whom I really wanted to share the story.

Right off the bat, my husband loved it. He thought it was great, and was super flat when it was over, for so many reasons. I had an array of issues and niggles, of course, but that’s because I read the book. I continually reminded myself that it was obviously going to be different, and it was a huge book to bring to screen, and that the finer points would be missed. Unfortunately. That being said, and the fact that the show and the book are vastly different, it isn’t a bad show – it’s just not like the book. At all.

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The show felt a little bit confused about it wanted to be (for me). Like, did it want to focus on the romance? Did it want to be all about the JFK conspiracy? Did it want to be about time travel? These were not themes that had difficulty interacting in the book, but on screen it comes across as clunky, as though the writers didn’t know what was the most important thing to concentrate on. I was also really let down by how many characters got skipped over – the novel was so story-centric, and there were so many amazing characters that I was really excited to see. Mike and Bobby Jill essentially got a cameo. Ellie didn’t even make it into the story, as well as the array of gangsters that were skipped entirely. All those characters being forgotten and overlooked did not change the fact that Bill Turcotte became a big player in this one. Shockingly. Luckily he was a character that grew on me, otherwise we could have had issues.

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For the most part the show looked really good. The sets were great and looked legitimately old school. The directing made the show suffer a bit, and the pacing was off, and as much as my hubby was hanging on to every word to see what was cooking, so was I. This story was something different entirely, and they worked way more in depth with the whole concept of Oswald being used by the CIA for a hit.

I was so excited to see the relationship between Sadie and Jake. I mean wow, if ever there was an amazing romance, that would be it. I absolutely adored it. I think Sarah Gadon is gorgeous, and she and James Franco made for a good looking couple. She was rather different from what I imagined, and their romance was more fleeting that I would have liked – it was a super elaborate story in the books. However, Sadie and Jake fit together, and while the dance from the show was a little more stiff than I would have appreciated, I was thrilled to see it happen. The show managed to show how their relationship was not a simple, easy thing.

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Deke becoming a more central character was awesome, even if he still hung in the fringe a bit more than most. He was entertaining, and I wish we had seen more of him and Miz Mimi. As for Lee Harvey Oswald? Daniel Webber nailed him. Seriously. The show constantly had you suspicious of him, and did not beat around about painting him this dark, deranged cuckoo. I liked it. It was rather sinister. There were times I felt absurdly sorry for him, too.

Jake is from a totally different time, and the show addressed it quite well that Jake comes from a future where injustice is not taken so calmly, and the way he championed for Miz Mimi to be treated as an equal? Loved it. He gave that horrible petrol attendant the chirping of his life, and his decency at offering her even just a cup of coffee in a time where that was not acceptable was fantastic. The show didn’t spend too much time on it, but it did not overlook the fact that the sixties had some major issues.

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11.22.63 nailed the doomed, melancholic, bittersweet story it should be by the end. It might have been a mixed bag, but really got it rolling right by the end. Looking at how the ability to change the past will mess with you is great. Seriously, how do you know where you fit in anymore? Everything in the world is so precarious. The butterfly effect was explored quite well here.

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I particularly appreciated the smaller things that the show did, such as the grassy knoll umbrella dude and Oswald’s infamous backyard selfie. There were also plenty non-historic Easter eggs like “REDRUM” scrawled on the Texas Book Depository stairwell, and Franco’s “so good” over the pie, reference to The Green Mile’s “Old Sparky”, to name but a few.

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While this will never become one of my all time favourite shows, I appreciate what they went for, super large deviation and all. I think the biggest issue is that King’s work is really hard to bring to screen. Some have been done excellently, with the right people, and I was really holding out hope that this would come together like The Green Mile, but I was let down by that. However, I am convinced that if you watch this and haven’t read the book, you will love it. I am basing this on my husband’s reaction, who thoroughly enjoyed this and it stuck with him long after, and he is not one to really linger or get overly involved. If you have read the book, this will be a little jarring, but if you put that out of your mind, you will have a decent show to fill your time with.

SPOILER: The end was beautiful and crushing, all at once. It left you with that broken feeling, that feeling you were lied to, allowed to hope, even though you know it will be a tragedy, no matter how things go down. It was stunning and sad in equal measure, the perfect close.

Blind Spot Series 2017

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Another year, another list of movies I have been meaning to get to and yet never have. Don’t judge me. We all have that list. That massive-ass list we continually keep adding on to, saying we will get to whatever is on there. Sometimes we do. Often we don’t. For that reason, there is a Blind Spot series. Get my butt in gear to actually actively tick off some of those titles.

These are my picks for 2017:

JFK (1991)

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SYNOPSIS: A New Orleans DA discovers there’s more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. – via IMDB

Say Anything (1989)

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SYNOPSIS: A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college. – via IMDB

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

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SYNOPSIS: Epic tale of a group of Jewish gangsters in New York, from childhood, through their glory years during prohibition, and their meeting again 35 years later. – via IMDB

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

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SYNOPSIS: A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister. – via IMDB

The Road (2009)

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SYNOPSIS: In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea. – via IMDB

Rear Window (1954)

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SYNOPSIS: A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. – via IMDB

Atonement (2007)

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SYNOPSIS: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. – via IMDB

The Help (2011)

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SYNOPSIS: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. – via IMDB

The Orphanage (2007)

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SYNOPSIS: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. – via IMDB

Cronos (1993)

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SYNOPSIS: A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. – via IMDB

City of God (2002)

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SYNOPSIS: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. – via IMDB

Deliverance (1972)

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SYNOPSIS: Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country. – via IMDB

Review: 11/22/63 – Stephen King

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SYNOPSIS: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful. – via Goodreads

GRADE 10I am going to suffer such a book hangover because of this. I have been reading it for weeks now. It is quite a long book, and I was snatching snippets of time whenever I could to read this, and I loved every moment of it. In fact, I was pleased it was being drawn out the way it was for me, meant I had so much more time to enjoy it. Alas, I had to finish it sometime.

I am a huge King fan. There are still so many of his books I have yet to read, and I hope to someday have read them all, or as close to that as possible. I have been eyeing this for years, and it just seemed like the right time recently. I am fascinated by the JFK assassination, and I figured a book dealing with time travel to stop that assassination could only be good. I was so right.

King takes time to set up the story, so nothing is rushed, and you understand what is going on. He also takes his time with the characters, so they are rich and full, and become real people. Jake Epping really morphed into George Amberson for me, and Sadie was a wonderful woman. Then let us not forget Miz Mimi, Ellie, Deke, the adorable Mike or his unlucky girlfriend, Bobby Jill. I really appreciated all the characters. There are so many more than the ones I have mentioned, but they are the standout ones for me. I also really appreciated the relationships between them. They came across as genuine, and real. Also, the love story between Sadie and Jake/George. is beautiful. This is how I enjoy a romance to be woven through a novel. It just clicked, and didn’t come across as forced or unnatural.

Considering the time travel starts in 1958, you know that there is some time before the Kennedy assassination is to take place, so naturally you are going to be spending a lot of time in the past with Jake/George. I was okay with that, and what a story he had to tell! I feel that 11/22/63 had everything: some history, some romance, some humour, some drama, all of it. And it was fascinating. I was not bored at any point during my time with this book, and thought the pacing was good. I also liked how the book never really became predictable. There were so many ways certain things could have gone, some did, some didn’t, and there were plenty things that happened that went against what I thought. It was nice to have a book that kept me guessing again for a change.

King is also the master of putting just a dash of creep into his work, so every now and then, as much as “the past harmonizes”, there were other things that cropped up, not too in your face or anything, but enough to get just under your skin. I really liked that. Overall, I feel that 11/22/63 is a fantastic read that is worth every moment of your time. It is engaging, has a great set of characters and events to work with, and everything comes together so well. The book is a bittersweet affair, one I truly enjoyed, as you can tell. I don’t know when last I was this invested in a novel, so it was a welcome delight for me. King just doesn’t disappoint.