There are different degrees of fandom and geekery. You might think that, considering I run a film blog, contribute to various others, host a movie podcast and spend a large portion of my daily life watching, discussing and generally thinking about movies that I’d consider myself a high level movie nerd. Well I don’t. I’m way more of a fan than the average man on the street, and amongst my friends I’m the “movie guy,” but compared to a lot of other people I’m barely scratching the surface. You want proof? Well, this past weekend saw the Bournemouth Film and Comic Con take place about four miles from my house, and I didn’t even go. It’s not like I’ve been to so many cons that I’m sick of them – I’ve never been to any – I just didn’t go. It was partially for financial reasons – August was a particularly expensive month, and September and October probably will be too – and also for time constraints, with various other things I’d planned to do this weekend, but there’s also the fact that there was very little advertised about the con that I wanted to partake in. I’ve no interest in collecting autographs or having my picture taken with figures from the world of TV and the movies. Yes I think Michael Biehn is great, but I don’t see how meeting him would improve my life, and I’d have nothing to say to him other than “Man, Jai Courtney shat all over Kyle Reese, right?” The same goes with Robert Englund, or Sylvester McCoy, both of whom were also present, along with Lou Ferrigno, Chris Barrie, David Prowse and the guy who plays Hodor on Game of Thrones. I respect all of their work, but I don’t understand what people get from having their signature on a DVD slip cover. No offence to anyone who is interested in this kind of thing, it’s just not for me.
Speaking of this past weekend, I feel there’s proof that I may be maturing as a person. This weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend which, for people who don’t know, means everyone who doesn’t work in a shop or for the emergency services etc. got an extra day off. It happens a few times a year, and this was the last one before Christmas. I’ve got a few days off in October for the UK LAMB Meet-Up in London, but other than that I’ll be working solidly through to Christmas Eve for the rest of the year. In the past, my three-day weekends would have been filled with movies, TV shows and video games. This time last year I watched 9 films, in spite of having guests staying over. In 2012 I watched 11 films over the course of the three days. And what about this weekend? Surely I made good use of the time catching up and even getting ahead of some of my targets. I at least must have written some of my outstanding reviews. Nope. I watched a grand total of four movies. And I reviewed nothing. Not a damn thing. Granted, all four movies I watched were relevant to some goal or other, and I partook in two podcasts, one of which took almost three hours to record (but was well worth the effort, thanks French Toast Sunday!). I also did some gardening – I’m adding a stone border around the front lawn for easier lawn-mowing, and to match the one we put in the read garden recently – and some DIY, taking apart a vintage wooden bar, re-painting it and re-assembling. We also made a cake we were commissioned for, decorating it to look basketball-themed (we’re happy with it, but the finished product isn’t worthy of a photo on here), took Murphy out for some walks, has a nice pub lunch, I started Aisha’s birthday shopping, and generally just had a nice weekend, not cluttered with the stress of staying on top of my lists. I know I’ve got a weekend or two in my future where I’ll be left alone with the puppy, at which point I’ll get a bit more done, but for now I’m more than OK with the progress I’m making. Or not, as the case may be. Here’s the four movies I watched this week:
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
What the heck happened? Mila Kunis plays a Russian immigrant toilet cleaner named Jupiter Jones after her murdered father’s favourite planet, but she also has the exact same genetic make-up as the mother to three siblings who inherited a bunch of planets – including the Earth – when their mother died, and Jupiter’s existence means they all really belong to her, so the children want to marry her to gain ownership? Or something? Channing Tatum is a half man, half dog jet-skating space hunter. Sean Bean is a half bee (though sadly not named Eric) whose hives are able to recognise royalty. Eddie Redmayne whispers a lot, then shouts in an attempt to break the speakers whose volume you’ve increased to have a shot at understanding anything he’s saying. There’s far too many characters, most of whom just appear or disappear with no kind of explanation or exposition as to who they are and what their allegiance might be. Arcs and lesser story-lines vanish without a trace or peter out into nothingness. A romantic sub-plot is introduced in the most abrupt manner possible, as though the actors were told that day “Right, we now need you to try and have some chemistry.” Jones’ family of fellow Russian immigrants are given far too much screen-time when their existence adds nothing to the plot. This feels very much like a needless sequel or a prequel to an already-existing, well-regarded film, in which the world has been established and lived in for several films, so little explanation is needed, except it isn’t and it is. The only things going for the film are the aesthetics, which are for the most part flawless and staggering, and a couple of action scenes involving Tatum’s Caine Wise jet-skating around Chicago whilst fighting a trio of bounty hunters.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 4/10
Two parents, known only as Father and Mother (Christos Stergioglou and Michele Valley) keep their three adult children (Angeliki Papoulia, Hristos Passalis and Mary Tsoni as Older Daughter, Son and Younger Daughter) locked away in their compound home. Only the Father is permitted to leave to work at his day job, managing a fairly ordinary factory, leaving his wife and offspring forbidden from leaving. The children have never been outside and know very little about life beyond the walls. Everything they learn if from their parents, with no telephones, televisions, radios or computers anywhere to be found, and the parents have even taught them the wrong words for things, such as the salt shaker is a telephone, and a zombie is a small yellow flower. The children have been promised they can leave when one of their dogteeth has fallen out, and they can learn to drive when it grows back again. The only outsider allowed to enter is a security guard colleague of the Father, Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou), who is brought in blind-folded to attend to the Son’s sexual needs. This film may as well be an experiment in causing my jaw to drop lower and lower, and my face to take on an increasing dumbfounded, incredulous look at what I was witnessing. The maddening parenting tactics get ever more bizarre as the film progresses. Sadly, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. This is more a slice of life look at a very unusual family’s existence than it is an engaging narrative, and as such the ending, which looked like it was leading onto things getting even more interesting, left me thoroughly unsatisfied. The cast are all good, the set-up is intriguing and the potential is there, but other than some unbelievable sequences – all I’ll say is a cat with a hammer – this was rather underwhelming.
Lists: TiVo Movies
Choose Life 6/10
Donnie Darko (2001)
My pick for Virginia for my USA Road Trip over at French Toast Sunday. This was a re-watch, and I’d forgotten most of the second half. Still trying to get my head around it to write my review. I can’t believe it’s not on the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. In fact, it’s amongst only five films to be on all the lists I’m going through except the 1001 list, the others being Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Leon, Miller’s Crossing and Batman Begins. So it’s in good company, at least.
Lists: Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301, Total Film’s Top 100, FTS USA Road Trip
Full review coming soon.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Nominated for me to watch by JD Duran of the Insession Film podcast. Hopefully this is the longest film I watch for the rest of the year.
Lists: Nominated Movies, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301, Total Film’s Top 100
Full review coming soon.
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Lambcast #284 John Hughes Director Retrospective: I was joined by Dylan Fields, Todd Liebenow, Will Slater and Chris Ramey to discuss all eight movies directed by John Hughes, from Sixteen Candles to Curly Sue, via The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes Trains & Automobiles, She’s Having A Baby and Uncle Buck along the way.
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
To go: 20
Should be on: 41
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
To go: 25
Should be on: 30
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
To go: 0
Should be on: 2
On Track: COMPLETED!
Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
To go: 4
Should be on: 8
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
To go: 19
Should be on: 35
On Track: No!
Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
To go: 16
Should be on: 50
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Finish French Toast Sunday Road Trip series
To go: 11
Should be on: 6
On Track: No!