Films and TV of the month: December


Happy New Year to readers of this blog! I had a nice Christmas break. Presents included a box set of reggae albums by Peter Tosh, and the complete Alan Partridge on dvd (starring The Trip’s Steve Coogan). Also received a classic I’d not read (or even heard of) The German Lesson by Siegfried Lenz (1968).


Star Wars The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) (Rian Johnson)
Spoiler free review
. I have come to the conclusion the original trilogy is unbeatable.
The bad: The Last Jedi is yet another long-awaited 2017 sequel content to over-homage with only small amounts of new thought. The camera movement is too restless, I would have accepted less action in favor of lingering shots of the impressive sets. A passable blockbuster, but not as fun and entertaining as Force Awakens. Marginally better than Rogue One.
The good: There is tension about who will survive. Kelly Marie Tran is the best new character. Sweet moments I’ll remember involving BB-8 and also Chewie. Quotable moments, particularly the comment about the sun and another by Rose about war. The scenes at Canto Bight were the most unexpected, with a subtext about contemporary society.
The way different cultures and genders are represented is nice to see, but the movie screams diversity. Bugs me that so little of actual importance happens or is revealed, which seems to be a commercial decision so Disney can make tons of sequels and money for years to come.
A youtuber summed up his criticism, in that E8 clashes with E7 in what the films want to achieve. Lord of The Rings trilogy got it right by carefully mapping out the entire three film story beforehand, whereas new Star Wars has been too rushed and lacks tonal cohesion by using different screenwriters.


The Glass Castle (2017).jpg

The Glass Castle (2017) (Destin Cretton)
About a dysfunctional family. Memorable moments, such as the pool scene, and the sequence when haven’t eaten for days. But the way the story is presented is too sentimental and sanitized. Lacks emotional impact. The book has received tons of praise. Perhaps best told on the page.




The Road Home (1999).jpg

The Road Home (1999) (Yimou Zhang)
Rewatch. Sometimes simple movies are the best. A romantic Chinese drama that can make me all warm inside and forget time and place. The son narrates the story of his mother’s youth. Cinematography, scenery and music are beautiful. The opening is in black-and-white, while memories of the relationship between mother and father are in color. A great stylistic choice, as often memories can be more vivid and alive than the present. A similar technique was used in The Wizard of Oz.
The main theme could be longing and yearning, but also empathy for the mother’s request. The villagers agree she is the prettiest woman in the village. Would it have been more realistic, if he was chasing her? The story about their first love is well-known among the locals. Perhaps the tale we are given has been exaggerated because verbally retold many times.




Braveheart (1995).jpg

Braveheart (1995) (Mel Gibson)
Rewatch. Had not seen it since the 90s. A lot has been written about the violence and historical inaccuracies. The battle scenes are believable yet excessive. Captures the epic landscapes of Scotland and the love story worked well. The characterization is often one-dimensional though, Longshanks is pure evil, William Wallace is flawless and heroic. while Prince Edward is depicted as a pushover. The most complicated, interesting character is Robert the Bruce. Brian Cox maybe could have had more screen time. Stephen (David O’Hara), the insane Irishman, injects the film with a welcome dose of comedy. Overall, the story managed to hold my attention despite a 3 hour run time, and that is down to excellent pacing and directing. The  oscar nominated score by James Horner is unforgettable.




Star 80 (1983)

Star 80 (1983) (Bob Fosse)
Based on a true story, a cautionary warning to young women about the pitfalls of show biz. Dorothy Stratten isn’t presented so much as a human being as she is an ideal that is both coveted and corrupted by men. A box office disappointment, which could be due to its dark angle on the subject matter. I disliked the decision-making by the characters, and couldn’t relate, but well-acted. Eric Roberts is great when given a meaningful role. His jealous husband was what I’ll remember most.
At times the story was a little too eager to foretell the future, which I could have done without. There’s good use of music, Rod Stewart’s Da Ya Think I’m Sexy is especially haunting. I prefer All That Jazz (1979), and Cabaret (1972) for the main characters. Lenny (1974) is on my watchlist. Star 80 (1983) would be Fosse’s final film as director before his untimely death age 60 in 1987. 




Solo Sunny (1980)

Solo Sunny (1980) (Konrad Wolf)
Captures the 70s music scene in East Germany. The story has funny and sad moments. Sunny won’t settle for less, a singer who wants to be loved by audiences and find the right man. She struggles with both goals. The men she is uninterested in adore her, and the guy she is attracted to she feels is half-hearted. Sunny is asked what her idea of success is and she answers: “to be understood and wanted”. Renate Krößner (as Sunny) won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and the film was nominated for the Golden Bear. The score is memorable, composed by Günther Fischer, a jazz musician. The inspiration for the film was a German singer named Sanije Torka. Here is a link to the title track from the soundtrack, sung in English.



What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

20 thoughts on “Films and TV of the month: December

    1. @Wendell: Yes, Eric Roberts elevates Star 80 with his performance, I’ve been told he’s also great in 1984’s The Pope of Greenwich Village. Sad where his career is today when you see what he was capable of back then
      .Those interested in a factual re-telling of Braveheart will be let down, I was okay just to watch the movie for what it is.


  1. Star 80 is an intense film and I kinda wish it wasn’t Bob Fosse’s final film. Eric Roberts is great as I really hope he gets an overdue comeback. You despise his character yet you’re intrigued by him no matter how flawed he is as well as the fact that he’s got very poor taste in his ideas of entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @invoid99: Bob Fosse was a major talent and tragic his life ended at 60. I agree Paul Snider (Eric Roberts) is someone you dislike but can’t take your eyes off


  2. Saw the Star Wars film today and largely agree with your assessment. Lucas killed my love of Star Wars with the prequels and although I got a nostalgic buzz from Episode 7, and that was rekindled here with the scenes featuring Luke (Mark Hammill has become a much better actor in the last 30 years), ultimately I feel they’re not making these films for the kid I was when the original trilogy came out and I can’t expect to ever feel the same way about them. I did prefer The Last Jedi to Rogue One (but then, I really didn’t see what the fuss about R1 was, I felt they fumbled the whole thing) but now with Han, Luke and (presumably) Leia gone, I don’t really see how they can keep my interest going forward.

    The other main complaint I had about TLJ was the predominance of space battles: always my least favourite part of any of the Star Wars films, yet here I felt that everything else was shoehorned in around big spaceships shooting each other. Then again, what else should I expect in a franchise called Star Wars?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Rol: Thanks for your thoughts. I also got a nostalgic buzz from Episode 7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi adds some originality that was lacking in The Force Awakens. Yet Rian Johnson still lifts ideas directly from the original trilogy as a kind of fan service. To me, the battle on the ice planet in TLJ felt like a weaker rehashed version of the opening in Empire Strikes Back. And Luke’s island is an inferior Dagobah from Empire. To be honest, I’m beginning to think George Lucas should have stopped it in 1983. I liked the last 30 minutes of action in Rogue One but the characters were rather bland. Difficult to please both today’s kids and the adults who grew up with the Star Wars movies from the 70s and 80s.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re a lot nicer to Braveheart than I am. I see that movie and all I see are problems. My favorite comment on it is that it could not have been less historically accurate had it included a small clay dog and been called “William Wallace and Gromit.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @SJHoneywell: ha ha, “William Wallace and Gromit 🙂 I’m not a history nerd so I don’t mind the changes to the real story. I think it’s done to make the story flow better. My biggest problem with Braveheart is the violence which is bordering on gratuitous.


  4. Had to laugh at the Braveheart comments here – As a Scot myself the most difficult thing to get around was Mel Gibson’s awful accent. Pure Hollywood though so couldn’t have turned out any other way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Alyson: Braveheart is definitely very Hollywood. Accents sometimes bother me too, for instance when I watch Danish actors attempting English, or British actors trying their hand at American. Can ruin a film for me which was the case with Primary Colors

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh accents, don’t get me started – The worst for me is when Americans try British accents as whatever the role they always sound as if they come from the landed gentry! As for the other way round, it wasn’t until I’d finished watching The Wire (set in Baltimore) that I realised Idris Elba and Dominic West were both British. Did a fine job I thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. @Alyson: I agree Idris Elba doesn’t sound British in The Wire. I could probably do an entire post on seamless accents, and also the opposite, the worst foreign accents i’ve ever heard! Emma Watson, the girl from Harry Potter, does a very good US accent, although Americans may disagree with me.


  6. I finally saw The Last Jedi last week and despite going in with low expectations, I came out feeling disappointed. There’s just so much wrong with it that it’s difficult to focus on any positives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi J, thanks for commenting and following! Last Jedi held my attention and I found it quite entertaining, although the bar is so high with the original trilogy that it’s difficult to reach that level. I felt the story didn’t pan out as well as it should have and many aspects were missed opportunities. At this point Star Wars seems to be about making money and dragging it out as long as possible.


      1. It certainly looks like Disney is more concerned with the expanding of the Star Wars universe. I dare say looking at the success of the Marvel Universe. I’ll still see Episode 9, but I’ll go into it with lower expectations than those I went into Episode 8 with.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. @Alex: The Last Jedi is a divisive entry in the series, so I see where you’re coming from.

      My memory is hazy in regards Legends of the Fall. James Horner was a talented composer though

      oh, and thanks for the follow!


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