Movies I watched in 2021 (Part 5)

I meant to write this installment of this post…months ago. The last one I did was all the way back in July 2021. The reason I put it off so long was simple–I wasn’t watching movies at as fast a rate. I started a new job, I was catching up on shows, etc etc etc.

Since it’s November, I considered just leaving it until the end of the year. But given I’ve watched three movies in the past week or so, and will probably watch more when I get into the holidays, I’m doing it now. As always, trailers are linked!

Gunpowder Milkshake: This Netflix movie starred Karen Gillan (who I love, and was the main reason I watched this movie), Lena Headey, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Carla Gugino. The lead character Sam (Karen Gillan) was raised by the crime syndicate her mom worked for after her mom abandoned her, turning into an elite assassin. When a hit job goes wrong, she finds herself returning to the “library” and group of female assassins her who were her mom’s associates in order to protect a young girl as well as herself. This movie was really fun, considering the subject matter. It was campy, it was action packed, it had comedy and drama, it had epic fight scenes. It was so so cool to see a movie like this that was female led, especially since so many of the women were “older” for a female action star. If this sounds like your kind of thing, go for it, it’s a fun time.

Black Widow: I wrote about this being the first movie I had seen in theatres since COVID started back in August! I stand by my quick review at the time: loved it, would die for Yelena Belova, fuck the patriarchy. There are scenes in that movie I was thinking about for a long time after the movie ended. If you’re a Marvel fan, I’m sure you’ve already seen this.

Awakening the Zodiac: I’ll be honest, I barely remember this one, which probably isn’t a glowing review. This movie stars Shane West and Leslie Bibb as a couple who discover the film reels of a serial killer (the zodiac killer) and decide to try and capture him themselves in order to get a monetary reward. If you like serial killers and mediocre thrillers it’s a decent way to spend an hour and forty minutes, but I can’t say it stood out for me weeks later.

Cinderella (2021): If you’re like me, you might have seen the trailer for this movie and thought, “Why do we need another Cinderella? Is this one contributing anything new?” I watched it and am still not sure of the answer. It stars pop singer Camila Cabello as the lead role–she does a pretty good job (although I don’t think her voice suited the main “I want” song written for her, oddly enough) and the movie feels a bit like it’s meant to be a star vehicle for her. The movie isn’t terrible, but it’s not particularly great either. There’s some funny moments–James Acaster as a mouse/footman was fun to see–and some fun musical numbers. There’s also some deeply confusing song choices in this jukebox musical, and some very very clunky messaging. I’ll note that I’m definitely not this film’s intended audience, and this is almost definitely some 8 year old girl’s favourite movie right now, so I can’t drag it that hard.

Definitely, Maybe: Released in 2008, this is one of those rom coms I meant to watch and never got around to. It stars Ryan Reynolds as a divorced father who tells his daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) the love story of him and her mother–without telling her which of the three women he talks about in the story are her mom. It’s funny and cute and heartwarming and I’m really glad I finally watched. If you’re a fan of rom coms, I would definitely recommend.

Eternals: The second Marvel movie on this list!! This is another one I watched in theatres, and I was so excited to have done so. It’s got grand special effects, beautiful cinematic shots, and beautiful people, so it’s absolutely worth a theatre watch. I really enjoyed it, and how it was a slight shift from the typical Marvel formula. It still had the comedic moments and the action sequences and it’s still set in the same universe, but it has a darker tone, grander cinematography (they actually filmed much of it in real locations, which actually isn’t super common in the MCU), and a really interesting way of rolling out the story and characters. I can see so many ways in which this movie will impact the MCU going forward, and where these characters and storylines go from here (including those credits scenes, if you have seen it you get me) but also enjoyed it as a film on its own).

Love Hard: This Netflix romcom is about a woman (Nina Dobrev) who meets what she thinks is the perfect guy on a dating app. She flies to Long Island to surprise him only to discover she had been catfished by a man (Jimmy O’Yang) who was using the pictures of one of his more conventionally attractive friends (Darren Barnett). To make it up to her, he agrees to set her up with the guy whose pictures he used. Hijinks ensue. If you have ever seen a rom com you can probably guess where it went from here, but it’s a pretty cute and funny ride. You have to be kind of careful with a plot like this, but I think they did a pretty good job of balancing it and not letting anyone get off that easily. A nice Christmas themed rom com watch if you’re okay with awkwardness.

Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings: And the last movie of the list is yet another Marvel feature, what a surprise!! I unfortunately wasn’t able to get to the theatres to watch this movie when it was out, so waited patiently until it was released on Disney Plus this past weekend. I LOVED IT. This is another Marvel movie that shifts from the typical Marvel formula, although in a very different way. It’s very much inspired by martial arts films, and characters speak Chinese nearly as much as they do English. The fight scenes were indeed memorable and fantastic, and the film was well acted by everyone involved. I look forward to seeing where they go as well, and love that it’s a Chinese-Canadian man in the starring role!! I honestly think all the marvel movies on this list can be watched without having a ton of familiarity with the MCU. There are some references you will miss, but it’s not too bad.

Movies I watched in 2021 (part 2)

I have watched five movies since the first time I did this, with one of them being four hours long. I think I went through quite a range of movies in the past month! Once again, these are only films I am watching for the first time, so this does not include my rewatches of Mean Girls, Tangled, or Spiderman Far From Home, for example.

Palm Springs: This is a movie I have wanted to watch since I saw the trailer, and it finally got released on streaming in Canada (we don’t have Hulu). This movie follows the “Groundhog Day” trope of repeating the same day over and over, but at no point did it feel like a remake or like something I’d seen before. This movie stars Cristin Milioti as a young woman who meets a guy, played by Andy Samberg, at her sisters wedding, only to accidentally find herself trapped in the same repeating time loop that he has already been stuck in for a while. This movie was very well acted and very funny, but also genuinely heartfelt and emotional. When it ended I found myself thinking, “wow. I’m so glad I watched that.” I’m glad it got some awards buzz because it definitely deserved it. Also, if you watch this and enjoy it or enjoy the Groundhog Day trope in general, I would also recommend “Happy Death Day” for a slasher-comedy version of this, and “Before I Fall” if you want to cry.

Alitta: Battle Angel: I kind of avoided this film when it was first released because I was so weirded out by the uncanny valley nature of the main character’s appearance. It still weirded me out after watching the movie, but you do get more used to it in time. This movie tells the story of a cyborg who gets reactivated by a doctor, turning out to have the soul of a young woman, who then sets out on a quest to discover her own identity. I don’t think this was a bad movie but I think it could have been a better one. I think it had a lot of really cool imagery and a lot of interesting concepts. But I also felt it tried to fit in too many plot threads and storylines at once, which consequentially, meant several of them felt strangely tacked on or not fully fleshed out. This movie is based on a manga series, which I think partially explains how this happened. They may have tried to fit in too many points from the manga. Overall a fun watch, but I don’t think I would watch again. I’d love to see this turned into a TV show of some kind.

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles: This documentary follows chef Yotam Ottolenghi as he and a team of pastry chefs from all over the world put on a Versailles themed gala at the Met Museum in NYC. I love history and history-based documentaries are my favourite kind of documentaries. I love learning about Versailles. I love watching cooking shows (even though I’m not exactly a cook myself). So unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed this. I think it was so cool to see how these modern pastry chefs interpreted the spectacle and atmosphere of the feasts of Versailles for this space and this gala. It’s only about 75 minutes, so I would recommend checking it out if you like history or food or museums or all of those things.

The Trial of the Chicago 7: This is another movie that has received a lot of awards hype, both wins and nominations. This is a drama based on the historical story of a trial in 1969 of defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy during the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. I’m not usually drawn to court drama films, but I had heard so many good things and the cast is full of amazing actors, so I decided to check it out. And I absolutely do not regret it. This movie was fantastic. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, the energy, the message–it was just riveting to watch. It’s also shockingly relevant in 2021. Definitely one to watch.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League: For those of you who don’t know, Justice League was originally released in 2017. It had been directed by Zack Snyder, but he had to step down partway through production due to a personal tragedy, leading Joss Whedon to take over. Whedon made rewrites and reshot some scenes, making it a different film than Zack Snyder’s original vision. Zack Snyder has now released “the Snyder cut,” a FOUR HOUR cut of the film which is closer to his original vision. Yes you heard that right, four hours. I had to watch this over two days, although I know others who watched it all in one shot. I thought the original film was alright–it’s a superhero movie, I watch all of them and always end up having a good time to some extent–but did have some issues. The four hour version of the film, surprisingly, solved a lot of those. There were more clear backgrounds and motivations for most of the characters and just a better sense of the universe and a more fleshed out and interesting plot. Of course this brings up some questions and concerns–like was his vision going to involve a FOUR HOUR theatrical release, and if not, maybe there should have been some cuts and rewrites before going into production? But I did think it was good and there were some moments that really stuck with me. It’s a shame there won’t be a direct continuation to this movie (to either version of it really) because I would have liked to see where they would go. I do look forward to seeing the individual character movies for some of the heroes that are in development or in production. I do hope they have less slow motion moments with dramatic music in the background though, I cannot express how many of those were in this movie.

So that’s it for the time period between Feb 20 and April 1! I have also been reading, working, working out, and watching television shows (I don’t talk enough about television on blog, but I love tv shows and series!) so it’s not all movies all the time. But overall I saw some really fantastic movies in the past month, and ones I definitely suggest watching when you have the time. I’ve linked to all the trailers, so if my vague thoughts are at all interesting, or even if they aren’t, check those out too.

Movies I Watched in 2021 (Part 1)

This year, I decided to write down every movie I watched for the first time in 2021. It didn’t have to be a new film, just one I had never seen before and watched in its entirety. I watch a lot of movies, but I’ve never kept track in this way before. I’ve watched six movies that were new To Me so far, so thought I would list them and briefly talk about each one. Don’t expect anything indie or underground in this list–I’ll inevitably watch movies like that later this year, but I haven’t gotten there just yet.

Wonder Woman 1984: I think this was generally enjoyable, but not as good as the first Wonder Woman. Looking back I think the main issue was focus. The new characters were interesting, but even when they overlapped, it felt like separate storylines. I also think there should have been more fallout from the storyline with Steve Trevor, but generally I think he was the best part of the movie. Chris Pine is always great. Overall I always enjoy a superhero movie, but I don’t know if I would call this one particularly memorable, especially in comparison to the first film.

Tenet: This is the latest Christopher Nolan movie, and I had heard mixed reviews before I watched. Upon watching, I do understand why. It’s a very cool and interesting concept, but it needs a LOT of set up. The concept needs so much set up that the REASON that the concept is happening felt almost secondary? I don’t think it really came together before the second half for me personally. That said, the cast is fantastic. I always love Robert Pattinson and find him very magnetic on screen, John David Washington is wonderful and deserves all the praise he gets, and Elizabeth Debicki was definitely a standout. The visuals were also very cool and I would have loved to see those on the big screen. Overall not my fave Nolan movie, and I wish the first half was less muddled, but still an interesting watch.

Scoob: This is the most recent cartoon movie in the Scooby Doo franchise. While I actively sought out the other two movies, this is one that just happened to be available for free, my dad wanted to watch, Zac Efron voices Fred, so I sat down to watch it. It was alright! It was a light fun cartoon caper. The voice acting was all good, and the animation and story was generally fun. It made me laugh. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Scooby Doo movie, you’ll probably like this.

The Dig: Now for something completely different; this film is a British Netflix movie starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes based on a true story about the 1939 archaeological excavation of Sutton Hoo. And I loved it. I cannot express how beautifully done this movie was. It could be quiet and serious and contained, and the acting performances felt so real and genuine. I really felt for these characters and understood their experiences and the parameters of their world. I cried at the end. Just beautiful.

Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn): Along with The Dig, this is my favourite movie on this list. They are very very different movies, but I contain multitudes. I feel like this movie was exactly what I wanted and what I didn’t even know I wanted from a Harley Quinn movie. It was hilarious, it was dark, every character felt both over the top and real at the same time, the action sequences were fun, the aesthetic was fantastic. It was quite stylized which I love. I was really invested and laughing the entire time. I don’t understand why this movie is so underappreciated. Is it because people dislike DC movies? Is it because men are terrible? Is it because the marketing was poor? I don’t know, but I’m a big fan.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever: This is the third and final in the series of Netflix teen rom coms based on well loved YA novels which I have not actually read. I’m a bit older than the target demographic. But you know what? I really enjoyed it. I think the first movie in the series is still the best one, but this was a good one. It gave me a lot of nostalgia not just for high school but for that feeling of confusion and transition. I know these are generally pretty “fluffy” and often predictable movies, which is what they get criticized for, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It was a nice watch after I had a headache all day, the aesthetic was nice, the characters were cute, and the pop music in the background was catchy.

That’s all for the year so far! In between I have watched some movies I have already seen and some TV shows, but those do not belong on this list. The second part of this will probably turn up in a month or two, depending how many movies I watch during that time.

Youtube channels that made me laugh, smile, and think in 2020

I have a longer post coming up soon about a book (yes, a book! yay!) but I thought that on this chilly Monday, when it’s still not too far into the new year, I would share SOME of the YouTube channels that brought me entertainment in 2020–it’s been a long year, so this isn’t even close to all of them. Some of them get rather niche and I have a tendency to enjoy pretty long videos, but there’s a good variety of channels here if you have time to check some of them out.

Bailey Sarian

Bailey Sarian has a series on her channel called “murder mystery and make up mondays,” in which she shares true crime stories, murders, and mysteries all while doing her makeup. Her tone is conversational, almost gossiping, like a friend sharing these stories with you. I love it.

Jack Saint

I am only sharing one video for each creator, and it was hard to even know where to start with Jack Saint. He does video essays about pop culture that manage to be analytical and political and funny and tongue in cheek as well. Can get very specific, and I even love the videos about things I am not familiar with.

Tasting History with Max Miller

On this channel, Max Miller researches historical recipes–ranging from Ancient Greece to the early 20th century–and tests them out for himself, all while sharing how he does it and historical facts and context. Really interesting and also fun.

Billiam

Mostly discussing nostalgic 80s, 90s, and early 2000s cartoons and toys, this is one of the newer discoveries for me this year. He has an entire series where he is watching all of Scooby Doo, what’s not to love??

Yhara Zayd

Another more recent find, Yhara Zayd talks about movies, television, music, and themes and connections through the years. Her voice is also very relaxing and great to listen to for narration.

KennieJD

KennieJD has a series called Bad Movies and a Beat, where she reviews and discusses bad movies while doing her makeup. She’s funny, charming, and watches movies I would definitely never watch otherwise.

Lost in Adaptation

Dominic Noble compares books to their film and television adaptations. I have been watching for years and love his humour and style, especially as someone who has many strong feelings about adaptations.

Jenny Nicholson

I don’t even know how to describe Jenny, but she takes very niche concepts or specific interests and talks about them in the most hilarious way. She’s been tweeting about how she is releasing a 2 hour video about The Vampire Diaries next and I am absolutely going to watch it.

Defunctland

This is an entire channel about the history of fairs, theme parks and theme park rides, and old childrens television shows. So of course, I love it.

Todd in the Shadows

Another one I have been watching for years and years, Todd in the Shadows talks about hit pop music as well as the history of one hit wonders and disaster records. If you have any interest in pop music, Todd is always one to check out.

MicTheSnare

Another music channel, MicTheSnare talks about current music, the history of genres, and full discographies of artists. I especially enjoy the deep discog dives because they introduce me to songs and albums of artists I thought I knew.

coldcrashpictures

Another channel I more recently stumbled upon, I really enjoy his discussion on film, film history, and genre. Yes he is currently doing a series on dinosaur cinema, as he should.

Bernadette Banner

Bernadette Banner is a fashion channel focused on vintage and historical fashion and clothing. I love learning about these historical details I didn’t know before, and her delivery is very engaging.

Kurtis Conner

Love supporting a fellow Canadian! Kurtis consistently makes me laugh out loud with his videos and I always have fun watching them.

Jarvis Johnson

Jarvis is another one who always gets me laughing with his video topic choices and his delivery. He has a second channel which is just as funny and fun.

“Wow Sabrina,” you may be thinking, “this list got really long.” It did and yet, I could still keep going! I’ll leave it here for now. If you too love YouTube, feel free to share channels you enjoy, or tell me if you enjoy any of these channels or videos.

Fave Movies I saw in 2020

It’s December 20th and you know what time of year that is…the time of year end lists. I was in the mood for a list, and so I thought I would share some of my favourite movies that I watched in 2020. They didn’t all come out in 2020, but I watched them all for the first time this year. This also definitely isn’t every single movie I watched this year–as you can probably tell from earlier posts, I have spend a lot of time in 2020 watching film and television. But these are some that stand out in my mind as I look back at the year.

Emma (2020)

I love Jane Austen’s novel Emma, I love the modern adaptation Clueless, and I love period pieces in general. So it’s no surprise that the 2020 Emma was one of the highlights of the year. The movie is an aesthetic feast between the colours, the cinematography, the historically accurate costumes, and the beautiful cast. But every single one of those aspects is more than just there for aesthetic purposes. The shots, the lighting, and the costuming all are integral parts of the story. The cast is perfect, finding the perfect balance of emotion and humour. I absolutely loved this film.

The Half of It (2020)

This was a Netflix original movie that I watched with no knowledge because I thought it looked interesting. I cried on and off for half an hour when it was finished. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. Something about this movie just hit me hard in the chest that day. It isn’t a romantic love story as much as it’s about friendship and identity and belonging, as much as it’s about different kinds of love.

Parasite (2019)

If you paid even a little attention to movies or awards show last year, you heard about Parasite. Everyone everywhere was talking about it. And they were absolutely right to do so. This thriller is genuinely amazing. There’s so many layers to it, so many universal concepts of class and money and family and fear. It 100% deserved all of the praise and accolades it received. Go watch it if you haven’t–don’t be scared of subtitles!

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Another big name on the awards circuit this year, it’s a bit hard to describe the plot of Jojo Rabbit without sounding absolutely insane. But this was one of the most unexpectedly powerful and heartfelt movies I watched in recent years. It’s not always an easy watch, in places, but it’s worth it. This movie is also hilarious–not surprising when it’s directed by and co-starring Taika Waititi, who I love (Thor Ragnarok is one of my fave Marvel movies, and if you haven’t seen his film What We Do In The Shadows, give it a shot, it’s one of the funniest movies I have ever seen). This is another one absolutely deserving of the accolades it got.

Coraline (2009)

It’s surprising even to me that I hadn’t watched this movie before this year–it has an animation style and aesthetic that I love, is kind of creepy, and based on a book by Neil Gaiman, whose work I really enjoy. But I hadn’t, so I took the opportunity this year around Halloween to finally sit down and watch. I did not regret it! Even though this is made for kids, I think the imagery, animation, and storyline is still enjoyable for adults. There’s also some genuinely creepy images and concepts, especially in the latter half of the film.

But I’m a Cheerleader! (1999)

This is another movie I was surprised I hadn’t watched yet. It’s a cult classic that I had seen on recommendation lists for years and years, but never really got around to watching. Despite seeing it often recommended, other than a basic idea of the plot, I had no idea what to expect. But it was quirky, fun, funny, and also genuinely heartwarming. If like me you have missed out on this movie, give it a watch!

Frozen 2 (2019)

Okay HEAR ME OUT. This was the last movie I saw in theatres before the pandemic. I have such a vivid memory of me and my (fellow adult) cousins driving home from the theatre and immediately turning on one of the major songs, “Into the Unknown” because it was just that great a song. And also in general…I love Disney movies, and I loved this one. The animation was beautiful, there was more of an intense story than the first (which I also saw in theatres, for the record), and the songs are all great.

Honourable Mentions

Buffaloed (2020)

Quirky, weird, and held up by the performance of lead Zoey Deutch, who I absolutely adore.

Work it (2020)

As a dancer I am legally obligated to include a dance movie on this list, no matter how cheesy, especially when there is actually good dancing and actual dancers in it.

Enola Holmes (2020)

Another one for a slightly younger demographic and the costumes are not very accurate but it’s fun and fluffy and has absolute brick house Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes so that’s fun.

These Aren‘t Movies but Close Enough

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (2020)

If you haven’t watched this comedy special, what are you even doing? It’s hilarious and touching and clever and hard-hitting.

Hamilton (2020)

I was supposed to see this in theatres this year, and sadly couldn’t. Luckily I have this original cast recording and soundtrack to watch and listen to on repeat now.

A Quick List of Some Songs of my 2020

This wasn’t the post I planned to write this week, and it won’t be the only one I post, but Spotify Wrapped dropped today (for those of you who don’t know, it gives you, among other things, your most listened to songs of the year). While I won’t be telling you what every song or even artist at the top of my list is, I thought I would share links to a few of my most listened to songs here.

My number one most listened to song of 2020, because I guess I really love an angry break up song: You Should Be Sad by Halsey

This song makes my heart beat faster: Slip Away by Perfume Genius

I’m surprised my whole list isn’t just songs from this musical: Wait For It from Hamilton

For the summer we were supposed to have: 3 Nights by Dominic Fike

Because sometimes this is just how you’re feeling that day: Young and Sad by Noah Cyrus

Sometimes I put this on and stare at the ceiling: Seven by Taylor Swift

Makes me feel sunny and I don’t know how else to put that: Sunflower Vol 6 by Harry Styles

For when it’s raining: You’re Somebody Else by flora cash

I have a memory from February of dancing to this with a bunch of people, and it makes me smile: Blinding Lights by The Weeknd

Even if our tastes in music differ wildly, it feels good to say “hey, here are songs that make me happy, I hope you have songs that make you happy too.”