Wednesday, 4 May 2016

April 2016 in Review

We're a quarter of the way through the year. Have you seen any masterpieces of 2016 yet? I was lucky enough to witness three this past month, but I also suffered through two films I suspect will be amongst my worst by the years end. There was also a great deal of rewatches and finally viewing some classics. So, enough prattle, let's take a gander at what I watched this past April.


Mallrats - 2/5 - It's clear the cast are game for this mall confined adventure, just a shame we're stuck following Brodie, Jason Lee's obnoxious and childish lead with little redeeming features, and the uninteresting TS, two epitomes of the unlikable slacker characters we're supposed to root. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith play entertaining support as ViewAskewniverse mainstays Jay and Silent Bob, while Michael Rooker kills it in an antagonistic role. The humor is hit and miss, as for every Stan Lee cameo, there's an awful "stink palm" moment.

Eddie the Eagle - 4/5 - A true feel good picture, entertaining enough that the films by the numbers nature isn't too bothersome. And prepare to feel the tension during the jumping scenes.

Cronos - 4.5/5 - The directorial debut of Guillermo Del Toro is a mystical take on vampires, ozzing atmosphere throughout. At the centre of it is a compelling story, full of tragedy and fantastic characters, while strong acting is undoubtedly on display.

A Fistful of Dollars - 4.5/5 - As the unnamed stranger, Clint Eastwood delivers a stellar performance which exudes cool, saying a lot with a simple look in his eyes. Ennio Morricone delivers a stunning score, while Sergio Leone grants us explosive entertainment in a compelling tale set in a little town, complete with families at war.

Fifty Shades of Black - 0/5 - *sigh* So, this happened!

Best film of the month and
Best film rewatched: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Norm of the North - 0/5 - Clearly made without any idea of the word "Effort".

Demolition Man - 3.5/5 - Who would have thought a fun piece of 90s entertainment would carry such relevant social undertones to the 21st century? But that's not what one remembers from this film, rather the undeniably entertaining Wesley Snipes. Don't count out Sly Stallone, perfectly embodying the alpha male hero in a desensitised world. Although, could have done with polishing the script a bit, and cooling it on the product placement.

Citizen Kane - 5/5 - "I don't think a word can explain a man's life".

Rosebud sure can.

It's a signifier for the last moment of true happiness in the life of Charles Foster Kane, a man who only wanted to be loved.

It's a word associated to a masterpiece of a film.

Demolition (2016) - 4/5 - If you enjoy seeing Jake Gyllenhaal destroy things, then you're in luck!

Killer Joe [rewatch] - 5/5 - I feel dirty every time I watch this. I love it so much!

Darwyn Cooke's Batman Beyond [rewatch] - 3/5 - This would be a fantastic short if it lasted longer than a minute.

Best film watched for the first time and
Best film seen in cinemas: Captain America: Civil War

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [rewatch] - 5/5 - A terrifying masterpiece of the horror genre, and one of the greatest pictures ever made.

Our Deal - 4/5 - Drew Barrymore utilizes a stylish direction and a killer soundtrack to bring forth an unoriginal, yet engaging tale of a romance that's West Side Story, Grease and parts of Romeo and Juliet, giving great material to Chloe Grace Moretz and Tyler Posey, at the price of the remaining cast.

The Haunted Castle (1896) - 3.5/5 - At 120 years of age, this is easily the oldest film I have witnessed in my life. While it does appear to be more of a showcase for editing than a narrative tale with logic, it is a great example of what could be achieved back when cinema was in its infantile years. Trust Georges Méliès to showcase such a thing.

Roof Sex - 4/5 - Yep, that's the genuine title. A tale that works especially well thanks to its short runtime, which leaves a humorous visual tale which doesn't overstay its welcome, with an ending that's a cherry on top.

GREED, a New Fragrance by Francesco Vezzoli - 2/5 - A bland commercial which has female stars fight it out over a bottle of perfume, containing the depth of a typical Sketch.

Omelette (2013) - 4/5 - A sweet little tale that further proves why dogs are regarded as mans best friend, brought to life through wonderful animation and a lovely background song. Utterly heartwarming. Now go hug a dog.

Biggest disappointment: Mallrats

Wonder Woman (2013) - 3.5/5 - In 2 minutes and 34 seconds, director Sam R. Balcomb and Rileah Vanderbilt show there's no excuse it's taken so long for Hollywood to make a Wonder Woman film. Yes, the green screen is obvious, the slow motion is distracting and the operatic score heavy handed. But when the results pack backstory and modern day antics together so well, and are this visually pleasing, you're left hoping the feature film can do as good a job on the positives of this short. (Click the title to watch.)

Batman: A Gotham Fairytale - 5/5 - By now, you'd have thought there'd be no original way to showcase a character so commonly portrayed as Batman. But then you see something just utterly wonderful like this, and you know as long as the fans exist, there's always some new, fantastic way to honour the characters you love. This 6 minute short is a clear labour of love for Mauricio Abril, who illustrates over 200 black and white illustrations, showcasing the imagination of a young girl as her grandmother tells her a bedtime story. Wonderously animated, and perfectly set to "Knights of Cydonia" by Muse, this is nothing short of a masterful piece of work that clearly showcases the love for the character, while honouring what makes them so adored. (Click the title to watch.)

A Smallville Man - 4.5/5 - Following up his wonderful labour of love for Batman, Mauricio Abril turns his adoration towards Metropolis' own Man of Steel. Wonderfully set to "Walk" by Foo Fighters, the brilliant illustrations show two stories which run parallel to each other. The first is of Superman protecting a South American village from Military action, while the second is a flashback to Jonathan Kent standing up for a disabled boy. Both tales work off each other extremely well, to converge and showcase how the S isn't just a symbol for hope, but the strength of humanity as well. This short captures the heart of the character which has been missing since Man of Steel, and I eagerly await whatever Mauricio Abril next brings out. (Click the title to watch.)

Captain America: The First Avenger [rewatch] - 4/5 - Part One of my lead-up to Civil War. Not as good as I remember, but damn it, Chris Evans is so charming, and I like Hugo Weaving as Red Skull.

The Death and Return of Superman
- 4/5 - Max Landis sits down and explains the major 90's comic book event "The Death and Return of Superman" in an oh-so unique way. With the frank talk about how ridiculous DC got, its ramifications on deaths in comics and the fun cameos on hand, this is pretty refreshing. (Click the title to watch).

DC Showcase: Jonah Hex [rewatch] - 4/5 - It's been said that DC's animated output is stronger than their theatrical releases, and DC Showcase: Jonah Hex is another nugget of truth to that (particularly when it was released in the same year as the embarrassing theatrical film Jonah Hex). With a 12 minute runtime, this short shows how to perfectly adapt a character, set up an intriguing plot and engage viewers better than a feature length Hollywood picture could. Plus, Thomas Jane is perfect in the titular role.

Biggest Surprise; Eye in the Sky

Zootropolis - 4.5/5 - Disney are certainly on a roll with their output, in this visually gorgeous piece with touching characters, fantastic comedy and relevant topics to tackle.

Green Room - 4.5/5 - Tense? Understatement....

Eye in the Sky - 5/5 - ...and here I thought Green Room was tense.

The Huntsman: Winter's War - 2/5 - A Snow White and The Huntsman spin-off enslaved to its predecessor, lacking life outsider of scenes with Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt.

Wonder Woman (2009) - 4/5 - If, Hera forbid, Patty Jenkins' live action incarnation of the DC character follows the quality of its predecessors in the DCEU, then at least we'll have this animated film. Yes, there are plot inconsistencies (the Amazons rid themselves of the modern world, yet have an invisible jet on hand? Really?), but it also carries relevant commentary on the sexes which defines it from the other DC Animated films. The animation is well rendered, working especially well to showcase the terrific scenes of action. Then there's the cast, who each embody their character in a fantastic way.
Damn, I miss the DC Animated films of this quality.

American Psycho [rewatch] - 5/5 - The mixture of Mary Harron's deft handling, the satire on consumerism, effective doses of black comedy and Christian Bale's terrific, unhinged performance make for a damn masterpiece.

Worst film of the month: Norm of the North

Captain America: The Winter Soldier [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - In the run up to the newest Marvel film, comes this taut thriller which tears down Cap's world, delivering one of the best MCU entries.

Avengers: Age of Ultron [rewatch] - 4/5 - Doesn't hold up as well on a rewatch, but this is far from an Iron Man 2 style disaster.

The Little Mermaid [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - A magical tale about the touching relationship between aquatic father King Triton, and his youngest daughter Ariel, who's fascinated with the human word. Throw in wondrous musical numbers, utterly gorgeous animation and a wonderful supporting cast, and you have an utter Disney classic.

Captain America: Civil War - 5/5 - Full review is definitely coming. For now, I'll just say WOW!

Son of Saul - 5/5 - A harrowing picture focused on our leads faced, clearly desensitized to the horrors occurring around him in the concentration camp he works in. You won't forget it anytime soon.


Best film of the month: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Best film seen in cinemas: Captain America: Civil War
Best film watched for the first time: Captain America: Civil War
Best film rewatched: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Biggest Disappointment: Mallrats
Biggest Surprise: Eye in the Sky
Worst film of the month: Norm of the North

Number of films watched: 34

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