My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 21

It’s safe to say this has been a very unproductive week, List-wise. I didn’t watch anything that I need to review, not even a Road Trip movie for FTS. I did, however, go to the cinema twice, and watch an entire franchise worth of movies for a Lambcast episode, so all is not lost. And I didn’t lose track of any green ticks, so there’s that. Here’s what I watched this week:

Mad Max (1979)
Watched for the Lambcast’s Mad Max franchise look-back, I’d seen this before a few years ago for reviewing purposes. It still annoys me for some reason that the events that happen that cause Max (Mel Gibson) to go mad are done accidentally by the same group to the same man, and that the whole thing feels like an origin story prequel that would have been released after the next part of the story to explain how he’d gotten the way he did. It suffers from being part of a franchise. Had it been a standalone film with nothing to follow it, I think I’d like it more. As it is, I’m not a huge fan.
Lists: None (Already crossed off: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
Choose Life 6/10

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
I really like the first Pitch Perfect film. I’ve got it on Blu-Ray, and am particularly fond of the riff-off scene, so when Aisha said she wanted to go see it I was more than happy to tag along. It was good, often funny, but not quite as good as the first one. The plot sees Becca (Anna Kendrick) and the rest of the Barton Bellas publically shaming themselves and being forced to enter and win an international tournament or risk being wiped from existence forever. The main cast is the same as the first one with a few additions, mainly Hailee Steinfeld as new Bella recruit Emily. I didn’t love her inclusion, as her character didn’t seem fully decided upon before the script was written. Also, there wasn’t a main driving force throughout the plot, with too many side plots taking the focus away from the primary narrative. It’s probably funnier than the first film, and live show commentators Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are still the high points (Banks also directed the film), but I felt like it was just retreading the same ground as the first film. This was often to great success – the riff-off type scene was amazing – but was a bit disappointing that it didn’t feel fresh. Also, Keegan Michael Key has a prominant role, and there’s some wonderful cameos (some of which didn’t travel well outside of America). If you liked the first one, chances are you’ll like this one too, but I don’t think it will garner more franchise fans.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Angels & Demons (2009)
I half-watched this whilst laptopping, as I didn’t deem it worthy of my full attention and I stand by that decision, as even without paying much attention I still called pretty much the entire plot very early on,, at least who the eventual culprit was, and it looked very dull anyway, with lots of scenes involving Tom Hanks and a generic European woman some years younger than him running around looking for books and what-not, trying to solve some riddle or other. Meh.
Lists: TiVo
Choose Life 3/10

Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981)
Mad Max 2
Part 2 of the franchise, this was a little better than I remembered, but I still fell asleep and had to catch up with the last third the next day. This seemed to be the film in which George Miller found his feet and worked out what he wanted to do with this character, namely put him in a post apocalyptic barren Australian wasteland, wandering around the dust and resolving issues he comes across, before heading out into the world in search of the next dilemma. Here, in a world in which only the mobile survive and where fuel is key, a small community has a tanker full of fuel, no rig to transport it and a violent gang laying siege to their gates. As with all these films, the villains are the most memorable aspects, with Wez (Vernon Wells) and Lord Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) having become iconic in their own right. Awesome chase sequence at the end. Still not sure what the Gyro Pilot (Bruce Spence) is doing here though, he seems to have come from another movie.
Lists: None (Already crossed off: Empire 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301)
Choose Film 8/10

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mad Max 3
The rightfully derided third instalment of the original trilogy had a lot of promise with its seemingly action-heavy premise – Max finds himself within Bartertown, ruled over by Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), who wants Max to help her take out her strike-happy fuel-provider Master Blaster (Angelo Rossitto & Paul Larsson). The manor in which Max plans to take out Master Blaster is via the Thunderdome, a gladiator-style arena combat fight to the death involving elastic harnesses, myriad spikes and weapons dotted around the giant hemispherical dome within which they fight. Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately that only makes for the first half of the film, with the second taking in an Ewok-like village of movie-ruining kids (like most movie kids) with a bizarre story of surviving a plane crash and awaiting some mystical pilot to come and save them. Apparently this was because George Miller had to step down from directing the film halfway through for grievance reasons, requiring George Ogilvie to step in instead, to the film’s overall detriment. In hindsight I’d argue it would have been wiser to allow Miller to come back to the film in his own time, contracts and release schedules be damned.
Lists: None
Choose Life 4/10

Congo (1995)
Having been written by Jurassic Park‘s Michael Crichton and starring a who’s-who of 90s actors I love (Bruce Campbell, Tim Curry, Ernie Hudson, Laura Linney, Delroy Lindo, Joe Pantoliano) I was shocked I hadn’t seen this before, and I loved everything about it. Yes it’s absurd, with a small group of people all heading to the same region of Africa for various reasons – returning a trained gorilla to the wild, searching for a mythical lost city, rescuing a scientific expedition – and running across not only a security force of pale, killer gorillas but also a volcano on the brink of eruption, but I loved it nonetheless. Silly fun, and I now consider it one of my guilty pleasures that I look forward to re-watching on sick days in the future.
Lists: TiVo
Choose Film 8/10

Foxcatcher (2014)
I don’t love Bennett Miller as a director. I’ve seen all three of his feature films, Capote, Moneyball and now Foxcatcher, and haven’t really liked any of them. I found the plot of Moneyball to be as interesting as baseball statistics could be, and the acting in both Capote and Foxcatcher to be outstanding, but there’s not a lot else going on in any of them that really grabbed me. I see now why people were angry that Steve Carell was nominated for Best Actor when he’s really a supporting player to Channing Tatum’s Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler hired by Carell’s delusional millionaire John du Pont to train the next batch of Olympic hopefuls on his grounds, but seeing as Tatum was never going to get nominated for his fine-but-not-awards-worthy performance and Carell was a shoe-in for at least a nomination given his physical transformation and extreme playing against type, I didn’t mind all that much. Mark Ruffalo was great as Mark’s older brother and better wrestler Dave Schultz, so his performance was worthy of the Supporting Actor nomination in a field that was always going to slope in J. K. Simmons’ direction (still really need to see Whiplash). Overall this film is really slow, and I only stuck it out because I didn’t know the exact details of how the events at the climax transpired, and I was interesting to see how it all turned out. No idea why Miller got the Director nomination, but I’m glad he did because I won a DVD by blindly guessing he’d be nominated in an Oscars poll.
Lists: 2015 Movies UK release date: 9th January 2015
Choose Life 6/10

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
This could well be the best 2015 film I’ve seen so far. It’s excellent, all the way through. Max (now played by Tom Hardy, who is fine, but doesn’t really stand out) is dragged into a colony based around a water store held by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played Toecutter in Mad Max), where he is used as a blood donor to fuel Joe’s army of war-boys, radiation-ridden youths fixated on helping their leader and eventually dying in his service and going to Valhalla. When Furiosa (Charlize Theron) runs off with Joe’s harem of wives, Max is dragged along by war-boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult) to get them back. After about 10 minutes of set-up, this is essentially one long road movie, following Furiosa and the girls’ attempt to find a new life in the fabled Green Place, Joe and his men heading after them, and the various positions Max takes in the game. It’s a lot of fun, never stops being exciting and will probably reward multiple viewings with all the other details going on. There’s one brief moment when they drive through some kind of swamp, where we see something walk by that looks like a walker from The Dark Crystal. It’s never seen again, and I’d like to see a whole film based around it. I’m looking forward to watching it again, which will be a home viewing after I presumably get this on Blu-Ray for Christmas. If you’ve any doubts about whether the hype is true, it is. Go see this film, it’s great.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose 9/10

The Iron Lady (2011)
I have to agree with the majority of comments I’d heard about this film before watching it; it’s a mediocre (and surprisingly short) biopic based around an incredible performance from Meryl Streep which is thoroughly deserving of its Oscar win. Margaret Thatcher is an iconic figure in the UK, not just for being the as-yet sole female Prime Minister in history, but also for the effect she has had on the country as a whole, but she’s not someone I know a great deal about. I know a lot of people hate her – a guy I work with considers her to be Satan incarnate, but he’s also one of the dumbest, most ignorant people I’ve ever met so I don’t value his opinion all that much – but that quite a lot of people think she did a good job too, and now I feel I understand a little more what they’re talking about, but not enough to engage in conversation on the topic, so as a biopic I think it failed. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at Thatcher’s reasonings behind her decisions and her deliberations over the trickier ones, as well as insight into her youth, and a great supporting cast including Jim Broadbent, Iain Glen and Richard E. Grant, but for the most part this was dull.
Lists: TiVo
Choose Life 5/10

Posts you may have missed:
Lambcast #270 Worst Ever Movies: I was joined by Robert, Todd, David and Nolahn to run through the worst movies we’ve ever seen. This was a really fun show, taking a break from recommending good movies to bitch about some utterly abysmal ones instead.
Walt Sent Me #32: No Country For Old Men: I joined Kristen and Todd to talk about the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men and the Pixar short Boundin’ on this podcast dedicated to Disney movies. Yes, No Country For Old Men is technically a Disney movie, because it was released through Miramax which is one of Disney’s subsidiaries. No, I didn’t know that either. Yes, I’d love to see Anton Chigurh walking around the Magic Kingdom.
Word Around the Campfire: How Do You Review?
The Green Mile
FTS in the Movies Round 20: There’s still 3 points up for grabs with the Moderate Image and 5 points for guessing the Difficult image, plus 5 points for naming the actor behind my face in last week’s game. You have until Wednesday to name the movies over at French Toast Sunday.

Goals Update
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
Watched: 34
To go: 27
Should be on: 25
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
Watched: 12
To go: 47
Should be on: 14
On Track: No!

Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
Reviewed: 1
To go: 2
Should be on: 1
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 5
To go: 7
Should be on: 5
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 18
To go: 34
Should be on: 21
On Track: No!

Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 31
To go: 46
Should be on: 30
On Track: Yes!

3 thoughts on “My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 21

  1. I’m not entirely sure why, but I tend to gravitate towards these weekly posts more than anything else on this site aside from the occasional film I’m very familiar with. I’m trying to decide for myself if I can make time to squeeze in some more Mad Max and join in on the Fury Road train that every other blogger seems to be on. I’ve only seen the first one and that was recently.

    • I think you just have a sick satisfaction for reading about people who are failing at something they’re trying to do.

      Fury Road is well worth your time. You don’t need to watch the others to see it, as the stories don’t really continue on from one another anyway, and if you do want to watch them then just go ahead and skip Beyond Thunderdome. Road Warrior is great too, but Fury Road should not be missed. I think it will still work well as a rental later in the year, but you have to watch it some time.

  2. Pingback: My Week in Movies, 2016 Week 40 | Life Vs Film

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