My first full week back at work (and heck of a work-week at that) and having a houseguest for a week too predictably cut into my effective movie watching and reviewing, but at the last minute I managed to claw in one review that prevented me from losing one of those hard-striven green ticks. No new ones this week, but I’m working on at least oen more for next week, fear not. Here’s what I watched this week:
The Book of Life (2014)
My surrounding area was inundated with posters for this around the time of its release last year, but I’ve yet to hear anyone even mention it. It’s got a great visual style, with the predominant action taking place as a story being told by someone else, and the characters within the story are blocky, jointed puppets. Everything is visually stunning, but alas the story was a bit predictable. It mainly concerns a love triangle of two best friends being in love with a girl. One is nice, and the girl clearly likes him back, whereas the other is an arrogant dick, so it’s no surprise what happens in the end. Excellent cast though, with the stars being Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum and Diego Luna, and supporting work from the likes of Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Hector Elizondo and Danny Trejo.
Choose Life 6/10
Last year, Tony Cogan at Coogs’ Film Blog had this as his number one film from 2014, which was surprising seeing as I’d never heard of it. And it’s fantastic. It’s kind of like Billy Elliott meets Kinky Boots and set in Wales, with a gay community in 1984 London raising money to support the striking miners in a small Welsh village, but finding opposition from the people they’re trying to help, based on the fact that they’re gay. The cast is amazing, featuring some always-great actors like Paddy Considine, Dominic West, Andrew Scott and Imelda Staunton, as well as the guy who I’ll watch in literally anything, Bill Nighy. Everyone is on form, and it’s an interesting, true story I knew little-to-nothing about, and was engrossed throughout. Also, I love the Welsh accent, so there’s that too. Do yourself a favour and seek this out boyo.
Choose Film 9/10
No Country For Old Men (2007)
I was a guest on the Walt Sent Me podcast over the weekend with Todd Liebenow and Kristen Lopez. They discuss movies released under Disney or any of its subsidiaries, which surprisingly includes the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men, which was released through Miramax. I’ll put up a link to the show when it drops, but for now feel safe in the knowledge that I love this movie. I reviewed it a few years ago and only gave it an 8/10, but since then my memory of it has improved and, on re-watching, the only flaw I can find is that I’m just not a big Josh Brolin fan, and even he does well here. I applaud the Coens use of many character actors in key, memorable roles, particularly Stephen Root, who is never less than amazing, and Garrett Dillahunt in an unsung performance as the comedy sidekick of Tommy Lee Jones’ Ed Tom Bell. Everything Dillahunt does is hilarious, spot-on and almost too silly, but never unbelievable. I need to track down more stuff he is in.
Lists: None (Already crossed off from: Coen brothers movies, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301)
Choose Film 10/10
On the Walt Sent Me podcast Todd and Kristen always pair up one of Disney’s shorts with whichever feature film they are discussing, and for this show I requested the similarly western-set Boundin’, which preceded Pixar’s The Incredibles, and can be found amongst the DVD extras. I know it’s only four and a half minutes long, but I watched it half a dozen times, so felt it worthy of including here. It’s great. Pretty much everything is done by one of Pixar’s animators, Bud Luckey. He directed it, wrote it, designed the characters, composed the initial draft of the music on his banjo, provided all the voices and probably made the sandwiches too, despite being then in his 70s, and now in his 80s and still working for Pixar (he voiced Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3). I particularly enjoy the animation and character design of the two main characters, the preening, prideful lamb ashamed of his freshly shorn appearance, and the friendly Jackalope hare/deer hybrid who offers him advice on how to get over his worries. The lamb’s dancing, and the Jackalope’s expressions are masterfully done.
Choose Film 7/10
I remember Prometheus as being one of the most disappointing movies I ever saw. Alien is up there amongst my top 10 of all time, and I went in hoping for another one just s good, so maybe I was setting the bar a little high. I also managed to blag a ticket to the cast and crew screening in London when a friend of a friend who worked on the lighting couldn’t make it, so we trekked up one afternoon to go instead and spent the entire journey back home slating everything wrong with the movie. To this day my post picking out all the film’s plot-holes has still received far more views and comments than anything else, and I still stand by most of my statements on there. I only re-watched it because my partner showed interest, and I wanted to make sure it was as poor as I remembered. Well, it may have been worse. I even fell asleep, and it wasn’t a particularly late viewing. Everything looks great, but the plot needed refining in some huge ways. Some of the performances were spectacular – Michael Fassbender as the Lawrence of Arabia-obsessed android David – but others were either questionable – Idris Elba’s accent – or ridiculous – Guy Pearce being cast as a near-dead geriatric, just so he could appear young in one piece of promotional material prior to the film. Hopefully I’ll learn from this experience and not think I need to see this for a third time.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Life 5/10
La Grande Illusion (1937)
This film was nominated for me to watch by Pete Conway from Man I Love Films and the Rambling Ramblers Podcast.
Lists: Nominated Movies, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500
Full review coming soon.
The worst film ever made. Or at least it would be if it were actually a film. If anybody other than Andy Warhol had excreted this mess they’d have had the decency to burn it immediately, and potentially themselves along with it.
Lists: “Bad” Movies, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Full review here.
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
I love Jumanji, have done since I was a kid, so I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to get to the kind-of-sequel kind-of-remake, especially considering it’s directed by Jon Favreau, who as made several films I really enjoy. This time, the magical board game doesn’t bring the jungle to you, it send you to space, elevating two argumentative brothers (Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson, little Peeta from The Hunger Games!), their father’s house and their sleeping teenage sister (Kristen Stewart) into space, and puts them up against aliens, meteors, a killer robot and a stranded astronaut (Dax Shephard). It hits many of the same obstacles as Jumanji – punishing someone for cheating, losing the game, roping in collateral damage on non-playing characters whilst destroying the environment they’re playing in – but it doesn’t do it nearly as well. The only improvement is the graphics, which weren’t exactly impressive back in 1995, and now look darn-right hokey, but here they’re polished and up to date. I loved the design of the actual board game, with it’s mechanised rocket clunking around the track, but everything else was disappointing. It was a good effort, but I think the jungle theme allowed for more exciting shenanigans, and restricting the setting to just inside the one house instead of the sprawling New Hampshire town was too limiting.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Life 6/10
Posts you may have missed:
USA Road Trip: Florida: Spring Breakers
FTS in the Movies: Round 19: There’s still 5 points available if you can guess the Difficult image in this week’s game. You have until Wednesday.
Lambcast #269: MOTM: Spring Breakers: The most recent Movie of the Month winner for the Lambcast was a film loved by many, disliked by me. As usual. That’s 4 out of 5 so far this year, who knows if the trend will continue? I was joined by The Vern, Alex Withrow, JD Duran and Nikhat Zhara to discuss Harmony Korine’s sun-drenched bikini-clad crime-and-debauchery explosion.
Who won the Lambcast Superhero Movie Draft?
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
To go: 30
Should be on: 23
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
To go: 50
Should be on: 13
On Track: No!
Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
To go: 2
Should be on: 1
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
To go: 7
Should be on: 5
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
To go: 34
Should be on: 20
On Track: No!
Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
To go: 46
Should be on: 29
On Track: Yes!