All About Movies

A 3-Star May Movie Month

I love movies… my family and I grew up watching movies and so its this extremely nostalgic and familiar pastime. I thought I’d share movie thoughts sometimes, especially when they have to do with books (or not!)

So I’m a tad behind on my movie reviews but I finally caught up, lol and turns out it was a 3-star month. They weren’t bad but they all, disappointingly, had problems.

Triangle Color Bar2A Monster Calls

A boy struggles with the death of his mother and bullying by creating a monster to help him.

A Monster Calls Banner

I knew this was adaptation of Patrick Ness’s book by the same name. I am not his fan (having read two of his books and loathing them) and wanted to know if I should give him one more chance by reading A Monster Calls.

I was drawn into the British setting and the fantastical elements of the monster. I felt for Conner as you could see he knew what was going on yet the adults in his life were too consumed with themselves to bother trying to help him deal with what he was feeling. When the stories started I was sucked into them and the message that was meant for Conner. Liam Neeson totally won me over as the voice of the monster and I felt like the CGI must have been created such that he was also the architect of the monster’s movements. I adored Sigourney Weaver as the difficult to deal with mother and grandmother. There is something about a person who so totally irritates their loved ones yet keeps coming back that speaks to my heart.

I did not enjoy the movie though. I did not expect to be laughing, giggling and having a grand old time but I wanted to feel hope and love and acceptance. I felt none of this. There is this insistence on remaining true to the crappy way life goes that kept interfering with what could be a hopeful look at death. When the film ended everyone in the room looked at each other and said… He didn’t say I love you! I won’t give you any context so as not to ruin the lovely moment for you but it cratered my heart and not in a good way!

A Monster Calls PosterI actually would feel uncomfortable giving this book or movie to a child who is grieving. In a certain light it says that acting out when one is going through a terrible tragedy is perfectly acceptable and will even be over looked by those who know the circumstances. His mother did not touch my heart and I struggled to see any love she had for her child. She knew how bald her mother is as a person, how blunt she would be and she knew how the entire situation would go down if she died. Yet she did not prepare him. Motherhood is about sacrifice and doing the hard, terrible and horribly soul crushing things for your child, your baby because to do otherwise would ill prepare him.

So I took one star for the horrid writing and one star for the horrid ending. The last frames were not a revelation to me.

While I agree that what is important is what we do, it is equally important that we think about what the other person needs us to do. That is the part of belief that is important, it causes us to act a certain way if we truly believe… if we truly love. I agree that we need to hold to our beliefs and stay true to them no matter what (like in the second story) but when those beliefs are just your fear controlling you sometimes you have to let those beliefs go.

BOTTOM LINE: Not for kids mourning nor for when a watcher is feeling depressed or down about themselves.

My thoughts as a writer Typewriter Pink Purple LogoThe director did a magnificent job with the visuals. When the monster visited I awaited the incredible things that would happen to help Conner accept what was coming. It wasn’t successful to me in the end because it didn’t focus on what mattered but it was beautiful and I could tell everyone involved had mad movie making skills! I rate the movie based on those skills. Young Lewis MacDougall was cornerstone to getting me to stick with the movie even when I couldn’t agree with the characters actions. Even when things aren’t handled properly and with love we must still persevere.


Triangle Color Bar3

Mr. Holmes

At almost 100 years old Sherlock Holmes has retired from detecting for many years and now tends his beehives on the coast near Dover. As he loses the whits to which he became so famous he takes a trip to Japan in search of a cure from prickly ash. Mrs. Murro, his housekeeper is deeply worried for her fatherless boy, Roger who has befriended her senile boss. As he learns bee keeping, Sherlock shares his last case which he is trying to piece together from his failing memory.

Mr Holmes Banner

I was really looking forward to this movie as a friend raved about how good it was. I can appreciate how well the three main storylines were woven together to conflict with Sherlock’s memory. His last case from a man worried about his distraught wife who just lost 2 babies. His trip to Japan where a man leads him on about a magic cure for senility. And his young friend who admires the way the man takes care of his bees and used to be great.

One of my problems was the way dementia was portrayed. Typically dementia patients have trouble with short term memory loss and remembering doing something that they hadn’t done yet. You don’t forget a case that happened a long time ago nor do you forget a man from even earlier than that. It was really irritating to have this disease cast in such a wrong headed way!! I know some people with early signs of dementia and it is not helpful to them for their friends and family to believe this is what they are going through.

This movie was very confusing to follow, I didn’t care much and it was so heavy and depressing. SOOOO heavy and depressing. It was hard to keep watching even though I LOVED Roger. I did totally bond with that kid and want him to stay and be able to take care of the bees. His mom was a bit greedy but I get it that her main concern was being able to give her son a future.

Adapted from Mitch Cullin’s novel ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind’, director Condon captured the frustrated nature of Sherlock’s failing mind in his jumbled narrative quite well. I appreciate that the flaws of the book transferred over to the movie. Just not so depressing my man, not so depressing please.

Mr Holmes PosterI didn’t appreciate how the last case made what was a noble thing into the worst moment of his life. I won’t go into it but I was uninterested when the case started, during his investigation and I HATED it after I learned about the outcome. To have the last thing this man ever did result in this is an utter waste of my time.

I did appreciate though what he did for the man in Japan. It seems like he’d be turned off the noble route after his last case but such is the vagaries of writers making up a twisted story surrounding a popular predetermined character. It doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t fit with the character. I know it was supposed to be a sign that the man had changed due to Roger but just like how he handled the pinnacle moment with Roger much to his mother’s dismay Sherlock hadn’t changed that much. It was supposed to be okay because they loved the man who raised bees.

BOTTOM LINE: A depressing look at the end of Sherlock Holmes life.

My thoughts as a writer Typewriter Pink Purple LogoA story that was manipulated all over the place and didn’t make me care much was lead by the best cast. Actors are after all following a script and not making it up as they go along. I especially appreciated Milo Parker who caught me up in the story despite all the contrivances. And his mother portrayed by Laura Linney who made me by turns angry and sympathetic was so true to her character.

Triangle Color Bar


Sosuke waits for his father to return from sea with his mom Lisa who works in an old folk’s home. One day he finds a goldfish trapped in a bottle of trash and finds her the most beautiful fish ever and names her Ponyo. She too falls for Sosuke but her father a wizard comes to fetch her home. Using her father’s formulas she returns to Sosuke as a human girl. Causing an imbalance in the world her mother, a sea goddess is called in to fix the situation. Based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid.

Ponyo Banner

I love Studio Ghibli’s films and have come to really admire Miyazaki’s storytelling ability. And his attention to detail in his animations are incredible!! I was not surprised by the love I felt for the sweeping animation sequences as Ponyo’s father works to clean up the ocean and revitalize it and when Ponyo runs to meet Sosuke unaware of the terror and beauty she is causing. The ocean from Miyazaki’s eyes is a beautiful place but not well taken care of – a great message to share with his people. Nor was I surprised at the strong focus on family and what it means to love another person. (Sosuke was a wonderful, tender, sweet embodiment of this idea!)

Ponyo PosterI did not mind the strong environmental message the movie contained. We do need to work harder at keeping the oceans free from debris and trash as well as clear of pollution and waste. The message that our neglect toward our oceans could cause the collapse of our way of life and out world did not pass me by and I champion the cause.

I HATED the story at the heart of the movie… that when one wants something they simply need to throw a big enough, mega enough temper tantrum and their parents (or the world) will find a way for them to get their way. Maybe this is supposed to represent humans toward the ocean and what they want on land. Its a good analogy if that was the point because I did not like Ponyo. And humans who dump into our oceans and use it for a trash heap are despicable!

BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful, message filled backstory with a misguided, selfish character.

My thoughts as a writer Typewriter Pink Purple LogoThe storytelling was just not up to Miyazaki’s typical standards… Part of the difficulty I had was scenes seemed to meander and have little to no purpose. The pacing was slow, incredibly, mind-numbingly slow, through the center of the story so much so I just wanted it to end and blessedly he didn’t beat around the bush about it. I couldn’t relate to Ponyo, she was just so annoyingly selfish and actually Sosuke’s mother was hard for me to relate to also. I liked her better when she worried so about the old people at her care center but up until that point she was as annoying as Ponyo. Sosuke while an absolute sweetheart and the best 5 year old around was so passive to these two women that it made me a little sick and mourn for his future. We have to be invested in the characters for this type of story to work and its hard when you don’t care for or outright dislike those involved (even in incredible situations like this world tearing storm).

Star Rating wordsRating Star 6Rating Star 2Rating Star 1 Across the Board

Have you seen any of these movies? Do you like messages in your movies? Are depressing movies too much to take? Are adaptions auto-see movies? What movies have you seen lately?


9 thoughts on “A 3-Star May Movie Month”

  1. So as someone that’s read two books by Ness and loathed them too, I totally get where you’re coming from. That said- I absolutely loved the graphic novel version of this- maybe because I’m a total sap and maybe because the illustrations were fantastic, this book did blow me away, so I would say consider checking it out… but maybe not if you didn’t like the story- the book’s not any cheerier- hope that helps! (also I have heard people saying they didn’t much like the regular book in comparison to the movie) I’ve not seen either of these, and have to say I’m not too tempted after reading your reviews 😉

    1. (I’m secretly or not so secretly happy that someone else in the world has read Ness and not liked the books! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing that!)

      And woah! I totally did not know there was a graphic novel version of A Monster Calls!!! That is so up my alley especially with awesome art… thanks for sharing! I love manga (which is a kind of gn) so I’m always on the lookout for American versions!

      If you aren’t interested in any of these I’d say you’d be fine passing…

      1. Me too- there’s so few of us!!
        Yes a lot of people don’t know that, which is a shame, cos I thought it was visually awesome. Fantastic! Then I think you will like it!!
        haha thank you!!

  2. I totally need to watch A Monster Calls (loved the book) and Mr. Holmes (I haven’t read the book, but the movie really sounds solid). I can definitely understand your issues concerning both of those movies though. Definitely looking forward to seeing them for myself now! 😀

  3. Hmmm..I am not sure about Monster Calls and I have never read any of the author’s work either. Did you mean to say the Actor himself was grieving when given the role? Or did you mean his character? And that doesn’t sound a movie I would like, I have never even heard of it tbh….

    Mr Holmes is not my type movie at all…

    AHHH now Ponyo is a movie I need to watch and one I am sure I will fairly certain enjoy. I love Anime so going to watch this right now!!! 😀

    1. No the actor wasn’t grieving but it seems to be written for children in mourning but I WOULD NOT give it to a child who is feeling vulnerable. I don’t like Patrick Ness and have tried three different series of his that people RAVE about… 🤢

      Have you seen Spirited Away? That was made by the same director and is excellent!!

  4. Thanks for sharing! One thing I love about Mr. Holmes is his vitality. Watching a movie about his waning years would give me far too grim of an image. I’ll pass on this one.

Let's talk in the comments...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s