Wednesday, 1 October 2014

September 2014 in Review

How is it we're already 3/4's into this year? It feels like yesterday that it was 2013. The highlights for this month were how I made my way into silent cinema, with wonderful results, and managed to cross a number of films off my To Watch list. So let's look back at the films I saw in the month that was September.

The Guest - 4.5/5 - For his follow-up to the fun, but overhyped You're Next, Adam Wingard delivers a film which begins with the makings of a thriller, but then builds the dreading tension to slowly reveal its intentions as a horror film. Dan Stevens may be cast against type after being known for his role in Downton Abbey, but massively delivers with a chilling performance that's to be feared. The electro soundtrack perfectly sets the tone and accompanies the stylish direction remarkably well, making for an effective throwback to 80s horror films.

Annie Hall - 3/5 - Regarded as one of Woody Allen's most memorable and best works, Annie Hall is packed to the brim with witty dialogue and great moments of humor all throughout. Diane Keaton and Allen share wonderful chemistry and put great performances to the screen, which makes it all the more a shame how their characters aren't very compelling, or give much of a reason to care about them. Also, it's plain to see how annoying a character Alvy Singer is.

The Twelve Tasks of Asterix - 3/5 - The famous French character leads the way in a fun adventure, giving way to many laughs. It's just a shame how things manage to diminish in quality, with the overall picture feeling strung out by the end. Also, you can tell how dated this is by the casually racist things are.

Best film of the month: Sherlock, Jr.

Big Bad Wolves - 3.5/5 - This dual directorial effort from Israel works thanks to its fantastic performances, and it's use of the humor to lull the viewers into a false sense of security, before things become blistering. It's just a shame the characters couldn't have had more development, or things ended up being pretty predictable, especially in regards to the last act.

A Trip to the Moon (rewatch) - 4.5/5 - From Georges Méliès, this is an important film, due to the fact it's one of the first films ever made, and pretty much the first sci-fi film. Méliès uses painted sets to brilliantly sell the locations and props, while the image of the spaceship lodged in the face of the moon remains iconic. It's a simple story full of charm and imagination, weighing in at just under 13 minutes and is available on Youtube. There really is no reason for you to not watch this important piece of history, especially if you consider yourself to be a film buff.

The India Rubber Head - 4/5 - What an amusing short. This essentially focuses on Georges Méliès inflating a copy of his own head. It may be simplistic stuff for any filmmaker to pull off something like this nowadays, but considering this was made 113 years ago, it's an impressive feat that's worth recognising.

Best film seen in cinemas: The Guest

Sherlock, Jr. - 5/5 - My goodness, that was outstanding. This was exceptionally funny while managing to hit the emotional moments well, with an accompanying score that is done really good. Buster Keaton does a fantastic job directing, with the scenes of him dreaming standing out as some of the films best work. The film boasts a complete mastery of slapstick that many of todays films could only dream of achieving, with magnificent stunt work performed all throughout. A silent masterpiece.

Sex Tape - 1.5/5 - Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz are a likeable enough couple, doing a good job to convey their need to ignite the spark which they lost. It's just a shame the humor attempts aren't funny, the script is pretty poor and the overall detour into a ridiculous adventure.

George Lucas In Love - 4/5 - Joe Nussbaum's inspired short places Star Wars creator George Lucas at the center of a Shakespeare in Love spoof. It's full of fun nods to the original trilogy, each one pretty humorous, and shows a clear love for the trilogy.

Best film rewatched: Rashômon 

Hercules - 2.5/5 - Dwayne Johnson gives a charming performance in the lead role, while the rest of the cast do their best with what little material they have been given. Brett Ratner cannot stop the action from being utterly dull, while the script is nothing short of piss poor.

Dressed to Kill - 2.5/5 - Well this was a disappointing venture. Brian DePalma begins things well by casting the focus upon Angie Dickenson's character and her tale of sexual frustration. Things then take an interesting turn of Hitchcockian proportions, but the promise is never followed upon. Instead, we're regularly given many drawn out scenes of boredom, lacking tension and obviously hinting at who's the killer, ending things on a daft dream sequence.

Rashômon (rewatch) - 5/5 - A masterpiece from Kurosawa that takes a look at how the different perspectives there are within stories, while also making a statement at the judicial system about how much we should trust the testimony of a witness, and exploring the theme of trust in man. This is a smartly written story that plays off an ingenious plot, powered by terrific performances.

Biggest Disappointment: Dressed To Kill

The Garage - 4/5 - The talented duo of Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton deliver a good natured comedy that doesn't focus on a plot, only to make people laugh. This is a comedy that knows what it wants to do with its brilliant stunt work, making more of its 22 minute runtime than many of todays films do with a runtime of nearly 2 hours.

Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 (rewatch) - 3/5 - The Marvel One-Shot's are a fantastic way to capitalize on the success of the Cinematic Universe, by exploring smaller stories in this vast Universe. This one focuses on a duo who found a Chitauri gun, and use it to rob banks. Lizzie Caplin and Jesse Bradford share wonderful chemistry as Benny and Clare, the bank robbing duo, but don't have enough screentime to give their characters significant personalities, or development. All we know is their names and they rob banks. Item 47 is one of the least interesting one shots, but it remains a nice look at what kind of stories can be on offer in this format.

The Nut Job - 0.5/5 - You couldn't tell this is the most expensive animated film that South Korea has produced, considering how cheap looking the animation is. The story itself is the victim of predictable plotting and by the numbers development, while the "jokes" relies on dumb slapstick, poor wordplay, blind jokes and cheap fart jokes. The worst bit is how much of an overall douchebag the main character is, making it a struggle to care of Surly's plight as he's cast out of his home, despite him working for his own agenda. In fact, his motivations are pretty much the same as the villains. The cast do a good job with their voice performances, but it's hard to care when Gangnam Style is forcefully played over the end credits.

Biggest Surprise: They Came Together

They Came Together - 4.5/5 - David Wain's latest comedy provides a fantastic spoof of the romantic comedy genre, taking hits at just about every regularly seen cliché, even down to the most generic pieces of dialogue. Each member of the cast are fantastically devoted to their performances, with Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd sharing wonderful chemistry with each other, while Christopher Meloni especially stands out. There are especially many hilarious moments, with a far from average "meeting the girlfriend's parents" moment and one face-changing reveal especially standing out in hilarity. A real gem and a fantastic surprise.

The Expendables (rewatch) - 1.5/5 - The initial idea, of reuniting the action movie heroes of yesteryear, for one adventure is an alluring one full of nostalgic promise, but the overall result is a bland dud that seems as concerned about running through as many tired clichés as possible. It would help if much of the cast didn't sleepwalk through their roles (here's looking at you, Bruce), or if this team film cast a focus on more than just Sly and Statham. The action scenes would be more enjoyable if there wasn't as much poor CG work in the scenes as there is shaky camera work or constant cuts, but we can't live in a perfect world.

Spawn: The Recall - 4/5 - A love-letter to the 90's comic book hero, utilizing the character less as a superhero, and more as a lurking figure from a horror film. The first sight of him is an impressive one, made possible by impressive effects. The fact it took 2 years to complete the effects is a testament to how committed Michael Paris was to delivering this tale, and is proof as to what can be accomplished in only a 7 minute runtime.

Worst film of the month: The Nut Job

Friends With Benefits (rewatch) - 4/5 - Still as funny as when I saw it last. God bless Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.

What We Did on Our Holiday - 2/5 - The biggest problem with this film from the creators of Outnumbered is how moments of comedy are attempted in serious situations, especially at a shocking moment which feels largely out of place here. But the poor attempts at humor, annoying kids utilizing stilted dialogue and Ben Miller's disappearing accent are also bad.

Spawn: The Recall (rewatch) - 4/5 - Still an impressive short on the 90s comic book star. Much better than the big budget, crappy 1997 film.


Best film of the month: Sherlock, Jr.
Best film seen in cinemas: The Guest
Best film rewatched: Rashômon
Biggest Disappointment: Dressed to Kill
Biggest Surprise: They Came Together
Worst film of the month: The Nut Job

Number of films watched: 20

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