My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 30

Sometimes I hate that writing is a creative endeavour. I’ve always been much happier with numbers than I have with letters, and the solution to a maths problem is always achievable somehow, whereas compiling thoughts into cohesive paragraphs can often, for me at least, seem impossible. I get near a deadline, I get frustrated, I get moody and I wander round the house scowling and breaking things. So, this time, I’ve opted to cease staring at the 8 lines I’ve written in the past 90 minutes for my overdue Road Trip post on The Departed, and I’m writing this instead. Yes, it means I’m now behind on my Road Trip target, however it also means I won’t have to clean up any smashed glassware later this evening, so there’s pros and cons to everything. Fortunately, I’m on track with everything else and only need to review one other movie to still be on track next week, and it’s a film I’ve already watched this past week. This is a very good thing, because in the fast-approaching month of August I’ll be needing to watch up to 15 films for podcasting purposes, only four of which will be towards any of my goals, so I better get cracking on these. It’s a good thing they’re mostly all films I want to watch then. Here’s what I saw this past week:

Ant-Man (2015)
Ant
The latest Marvel movie was primarily seen for podcasting purposes, with this week’s Lambcast episode being posted in a few days and being devoted to it. I’d been tempted to ban it after Edgar Wright dropped out of the directing chair, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s not a perfect film, but I did really enjoy it, I had a lot of fun. Tone-wise it’s closest to Iron Man in terms of an origin story that’s heavily comedic and also quite a bit science-y, with Paul Rudd’s convicted burglar being recruited by Michael Douglas’ retired army scientist to help prevent an evil corporate businessman (otherwise known as Marvel’s template for every villain that’s not Loki) from creating a military super suit with potentially disastrous consequences. It’s ludicrous – Douglas gives Rudd a suit that can shrink him down by reducing the space between his atoms, and it also gives him the power to communicate with ants and make them do his bidding – but the film knows it is, so runs with it. Michael Pena is terrific as the scene-stealing idiot convict friend of Rudd, but Evangeline Lilly is wasted in a role that will hopefully grow in future Marvel films, but for now requires her to look pretty and stern, which she does well. Given how disappointed I was when Peyton Reed was announced as the director, this could have been far worse. My apologies Mr. Reed, please feel free to stick around for Ant-Man 2.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Film 7/10

Still Alice (2014)
Still
It’s annoying that sometimes really wonderful performances are found in otherwise mediocre films, because it means I have to sit through the movie to be up to date on the culturally relevant, award-winning acting work on display. Such is the case with Still Alice, which saw Julianne Moore finally winning a Best Actress Academy Award earlier this year, when of course she should have won Best Supporting back in 1998 for Boogie Nights, or Best Actress in 2003 for Far From Heaven or 1996 for Safe. Whilst her performance in Still Alice is exemplary, I’d still have preferred the award to have gone to Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl, which may have happened had Moore already had an award. This is the problem with the Academy, and it’s been discussed many times before so I won’t waster any more time on it here. My issue with Still Alice is that if someone were to describe a film about someone who develops Alzheimer’s Disease, this is exactly, note for note, the film they would describe. It takes very few deviations from what is expected, and feel like well-trod ground because of it. The supporting cast is largely good, surprisingly even Kristen Stewart, although she is playing an unsuccessful actress, so it’s not exactly a stretch. Oh, there was one absolutely gripping and interesting scene though. Early on, when Moore’s Alice understands exactly what her future has in store, she leaves herself a video message telling herself if she can’t complete certain tasks she should follow a set of seemingly simple instructions to kill herself. When this video comes back into play it’s tense and heartbreaking.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Robot Overlords (2015)
Robot
I don’t know why I agreed to review this. I regret it.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Full review here.

The Departed (2005)
-
My second viewing a long time after the first. It was pretty great, I’m just struggling to explain why. Hopefully my full review will be up at FTS later this week. Next weekend at the latest, promise.
Lists: USA Road Trip, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire Top 500, Empire Top 301
Full review coming soon.

Love is Strange (2014)
love
I watched this because of two reasons, Alfred Molina and John Lithgow. They’re two character actors I’d argue it’s impossible not to like, so when I heard they were starring in a film together, I knew it was something I had to see. They play an openly gay couple living in New York, who have been together for almost 40 years when gay marriage is legalised. However, after marrying Molina’s character loses his job at a Catholic school because gay marriage doesn’t comply with their beliefs, despite everyone there, teachers and students alike, knowing full well about his situation. Losing his job means the couple also lose their home, and find themselves living apart and staying with friends and family whilst they make ends meet. It doesn’t hammer you over the head with the notion that what should have brought them closer together as a couple literally drove them apart, and you could read an anti-gay marriage moral in there somewhere, but only if you’re looking for it and want to find it, neither of which is true with me. Molina, Lithgow and the rest of the cast -which also includes Marisa Tomei as Lithgow’s nephew’s wife – are all wonderful, and the film shone light on some matters and circumstances I hadn’t expected. Molina’s letter to his students and their parents was a particular highlight.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Film 8/10

Cast Away (2000)
cast
Why isn’t Cast Away talked about more? It’s fantastic, yet it doesn’t appear on any of the various lists I’m working through, I can’t understand it. It’d been a long time since I’d seen it all the way through, and there’s so much here to love. It’s a film that makes you care about a volleyball. A volleyball! Tom Hanks so greatly makes you believe an inflated ball is his best friend that it’s forgiveable to cry when they possibly get separated. And when he makes fire, it’s inspiring. Chocolat got nominated for Best Picture over this? Nonsense. How many other stories would have ended twenty minutes before this did? Many, but Robert Zemeckis knew that final act was where it all comes together. I loved the use of several shots where the foreground shows something, primarily Tom Hanks’ Chuck Nolan surviving in some way, or waking up on a beach working out what the heck is going on, whilst in the background something else slowly happens that he’ll soon either be paying attention to or wishing he had a few moments earlier, and every time it’s tense and may invoke my need to yell at the screen for the guy to turn around. I don’t often get emotionally involved in movies, but I do in Cast Away.
Lists: None
Choose Film 9/10

Pitch Perfect (2012)
pitch
I’ve said it before, earlier this year, in fact, but I unashamedly enjoy Pitch Perfect. Better than the sequel, but I’m still looking forward to watching part 2 again sometime in the future, if only for the riff-off scene, which is still the highlight of this film too. And yes, I sing along to as much of the music as I can, except Party in the USA, which I still have never heard outside this film. For that I’m grateful.
Lists: None
Choose Film 8/10

Enter the Dragon (1973)
dragon
Nominated for me to watch by Jason Soto of Your Face!, I’ll be reviewing this soon. It will be a very, very positive review, because I loved this. So unexpected in every way.
Lists: Nominated Movies, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s Top 500
Full review coming soon.

Posts you may have missed:
Robot Overlords
Do the Right Thing

Lambcast #279: Lambpardy: Returning champion Todd Liebenow took on new contestants Daniel Lackey and Chris Ramey at the Lambcast’s totally original movie-themed game show, Lambpardy! Did Todd retain his title? Listen to find out!

Goals Update
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
Watched: 38
To go: 23
Should be on: 35
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
Watched: 29
To go: 30
Should be on: 24
On Track: Yes!

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

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

Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 30
To go: 22
Should be on: 30
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 50
To go: 25
Should be on: 43
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Finish French Toast Sunday Road Trip series
Reviewed: 2
To go: 14
Should be on: 3
On Track: No!

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