Monday, 2 February 2015

January 2015 In Review

It takes so long to reach another year, but a month passes by so quickly. This year, I'm trying to make more of a balance between what genres, eras and countries the films I see are from. I would have seen more this month, but I discovered Attack On Titan (which is AMAZING!). As you will see, I have added a new category worth mentioning. So, let's see what films I watched over the first month of this year.

Too Many Cooks (rewatch) - 4.5/5 - The opening is a perfect parody of the cheesy, family sitcoms of the 80s, leading into a mesh of cooking shows, cop procedurals and Dallas, to name a few. And then, I don't know what the fuck to say, other than it's glorious.

Pollyanna (1960) - 4/5 - Yeah, it's rather formulaic, but the combination of David Swift's warm direction full of sentiment and the solid cast leads the way for a charming flick.

Feast (2014) - 3.5/5 - This charming short sees the growing of a family through the eyes of a dog and his meals. Sure it gets repetitive, but the visuals are gorgeous, and it's very cute.

Best film of the month & Best
film new to me: The General

Big Hero 6 - 4/5 - Since Disney bought Marvel, it was only a matter of time before they adapted one of the comic book heroes for their own films as opposed to just releasing what Marvel Studios make. Their first adaptation is an unknown property rather than something more well known, and it results in one of the best surprises I've seen recently. From the gorgeous designs to the interesting look at grief, so much of this film is executed exceptionally. Granted, I would have loved more time with the side characters away from Hiro, but it's easily forgiveable when Baymax is so adorably amazing.

Ninja Terminator - 2/5 - Godfrey Ho's efforts here can best be described as a perplexing clusterfuck. There are two main plot threads that run, and have a tenuous link that makes it seem as though this is two films that have been poorly put together. The editing, the sound effects, the voice dubbing, the script, there is little here that is actually done well. Yet, the overall film is hilarious for it's faults, coming off as entertainingly trashy. A good film to sit back and laugh at.

Shakespeare In Love (rewatch) - 3/5 - Since everybody else mentioned it, I'm going to avoid talking about this film and what awards recognition it received. What I will say is that Joseph Fiennes is exceptional in the lead role, giving a smouldering performance that commands the screen while Gwyneth Paltrow does good work acting opposite him. Each member of the cast does good work, it's just a shame to see the majority of them get generic development, while Colin Firth remains underwritten despite a meaty amount of screentime. Also, while the little nods to Shakespeares plays start off as rather cute to see, it gets tiring to see them constantly pop up over the 2 hour runtime. But credit where it's due, the actual play at the end is the best moment of the entire film. Just a shame we had to see so much of the dull, central relationship take over the film.

Best film rewatched & Best
film seen in cinemas: Whiplash

August: Osage County - 2.5/5 - Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep are on top form with fantastic performance, standing out in an exceptional cast. What's a shame, though, is how they are all unable to transcend the film above its bland script which, despite glimmers of blackly biting moments, leads to an overall dull film.

The General - 5/5 - The second feature length film I've seen from Buster Keaton, and by the end, my consensus is the same as it was for Sherlock, Jr. Not only a masterpiece of silent cinema, but of cinema in general. Clyde Bruckman and Keaton do a masterful job directing, with notable moments involving a piece of wood and the cannon. These scenes let the tension build, until the directors perfect timing allows for the audience to breath a sigh of relief. Truly a must see.

Harry Brown (rewatch) - 2/5 - Michael Caine is on top form as the lead of a solid cast, but none of them can overcome this muddled picture. Any attempt at social relevance to the modern day problem of hoodie culture is suffocated, due to the overstuffed nature of inserting dull action and gritty, cliché moments.

Biggest Disappointment: Ferris
Bueller's Day Off

Red Riding Hood - 0.5/5 - Damn, this one was painful. Catherine Hardwicke was the person who brought the Twilight franchise to life, having directed the first film, and clearly had their fan base in mind when making this. The famous fairy tale is vastly bastardised to the point it bears little resemblance to its source material, leaving the little nods inserted throughout to feel greatly forced. The focus is instead shifted to a love triangle, with each of the characters lacking in an interesting personality and played blandly. The latter especially applies to Amanda Seyfried, who fails to make more expressions than the singular blank one she regularly wears. It'd help if the script wasn't so generic, the effects so poor or if everyone actually made an effort to act (including you, Gary Oldman). The scenery is dazzling to view, but this is one that'll make you huff and puff until your house blows down.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - 2/5 - In order to goof off from school for one day, Ferris Bueller manipulates his best friend, preys on the caring nature of his parents by lying to them, and coerces his girlfriend to go along with the ruse that her grandmother died, all while using the best friend as an excuse for everything. These are the actions of our main character, who we're supposed to love just as much as nearly everybody onscreen does. There is little reason we should want to hang out with this manipulative, selfish, egotistical tool, but we have to follow his exploits for the 103 minute runtime, as Matthew Broderick fails to inhibit any spark or personality to the titular character. Sorry John Hughes, but everyone slips up once in a while.

Selma - 4.5/5 - Ava DuVernay wisely selects one moment from Martin Luther Kings life, and bases the film around it as opposed to rushing a life to death biopic. She does a phenomenal job directing, lacing an undercurrent of tension throughout many of the scenes, while David Oyelowo is fantastic in portraying the influential figure. Stunning stuff.

Biggest Surprise: Shaolin Soccer

Whiplash (rewatch) - 5/5 - Second viewing, and Damien Chazelle's modern masterpiece is still as astounding and heart thumping as it was the first time.

Turtles Forever - 4/5 - Released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the popular characters, Turtles Forever takes the iterations from the 80s show and has them meet the 2003 versions. The result is a humorous adventure that lovingly pokes fun, while holding clear respect for the past. Truly a fantastic surprise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III - 1/5 - It's clear what this films focus was: to churn out a half-assed tale that would work with any set of characters interchanged for the turtles. The result is a poorly plotted event that has to deal with poor effects, plot holes all throughout and an overuse of slapstick. Now let's say a prayer for Elias Koteas, who returns to play babysitter in an adventure tenuously connected to the main story, and to play what is assumed to be his ancestor, who's pretty much a dick.

Worst film of the Month: Red
Riding Hood

TMNT (rewatch) - 2.5/5 - Were the animation team aware their work was for a feature length film? Because the results could've fooled me that their work was going to the cutscenes of an Xbox game. Regardless, the 2007 attempt to bring the Turtles back to the big screen is a bland piece of work.

Shaolin Soccer - 4.5/5 - How is it Shaolin Soccer excels at being hilarious and really fun? Stephen Chow does this by making the proceedings as intentionally cheesy as possible, revelling in it for the amusement of the viewers. The result is a fun journey that's worth your time.

Mad Max - 4/5 - George Miller sets his directorial debut in a dystopian Australia, crafting a nightmarish future world with an underlying tension that's very effective. Mel Gibson commands the screen in one of his first starring roles, showing the charisma that would turn him into an A-list star. But the real star of this film are the impressive car stunts, which are fantastically done. Not a masterpiece, but it's clear to see why it's such a cult favourite.


Best film of the month: The General
Best film seen in cinemas: Whiplash
Best film new to me: The General
Best film rewatched: Whiplash
Biggest Disappointment: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Biggest Surprise: Shaolin Soccer
Worst film of the month: Red Riding Hood

Number of films watched: 18

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