My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 44

You know what my sin is? Envy. And also Pride. I’m also quite gluttonous, can be pretty lazy and have bouts of wrath now and then too, so I’m covering everything except greed and lust, so 5 out of 7 ain’t bad, I suppose. Mainly it’s the envy thing though. My life is controlled by list, and no more so than this blog. It’s entirely a product of of my own doing, I get that, but structuring my writing around a pre-determined selection of films that must be reviewed can lead to a lack of variety and motivation at times. That’s why I enjoy writing for other sites like French Toast Sunday and Blueprint: Review because, whilst I often still end up reviewing a List film, I also review other things that interest me, like new releases or pieces about a specific, non-List film or subject.
I heard Alex Withrow from And So It Begins (a site you should not check out if you hate amazing film blogs) on a podcast a few months ago. When it came to the end of the show he was asked what he had coming up soon, and his response was along the liens of “You guys don’t just come up with an idea and post it?” I found this whole concept of not planning ahead and posting on a whim to be utterly alien, especially now when I’ve mapped out a plan to get achieve as many of my goals before the end of the year. I’ve drawn up a list of approximately 120 tasks, some minor (“Watch a 2015 film”) some more time consuming (“Archive all the Lambcast shows” [though admittedly that’s been broken down into chunks]) with the aim of completing at least 2 a day from now until 2016. So far, three days into this mini-mission, I’m ahead of schedule, and finishing this weekly post will cross another task off the list. I get a spring of joy whenever I can highlight something in green, but I can’t help feeling envious of those other less restricted bloggers who don’t suffer my qualms of meeting deadlines. The ones who don’t beat themselves up for not writing a review on a film they don’t have much to say about.

Also, next year’s missions will be far less restricting. I’m still planning to aim for reviewing a lot of films – I’m currently thinking at least 100 off the List – but the break-down as to what each of those films should be will be far less strict, which should see me complaining on these weekly posts a whole heap less. Speaking of which, a busy week with two podcasts to edit and a bunch of DIY to do (redecorating the guest bedroom/my office) saw me watching not a great deal this week. Here’s what I saw:

Chinatown (1974)
Nominated for me to watch by Jess Manzo of French Toast Sunday, and also the winner of November’s Movie of the Month, for which we recorded a podcast yesterday that will be posting soon.
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.

Unfinished Business (2015)
It’s rarely a good sign when you see a trailer get released, make note of a cast including actors you like (in this case Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, James Marsden and Nick Frost) but then never hear about that film again, long after it should have come out. Well Unfinished Business, starring Vince Vaughn as a small-time businessman attempting to take on the successful firm he quit a year previously but finding his plans scuppered at every turn, did indeed come out, but evidently died a slow and uneventful death by virtue of being not terribly good. It’s not awful, it just has no idea what it wants to be. Some scenes see Vaughn’s Dan dealing with the pressures of parenting whilst spending what seems like minimal time away from his kids – this is maybe the first business trip he’s been on in a year, and his office is a Dunkin’ Donuts not far from home. His son is dealing with being bullied because he’s overweight, and his much younger daughter is in trouble for beating up the kids who mock her brother. Plus Dan has to help his daughter fill out a really generic, life-affirming message of homework that begins simply with “My Daddy is…”. However, other scenes go for gross-out frat-style comedy involving stripper-maids, glory-holes and penises wiped over faces, and elsewhere it’s pure farce, with the only hotel Dan is able to book being part of an art installation piece where his walls are actually giant windows for people to watch him whilst he sleeps. The cast are all game and mostly good, particularly Wilkinson and Franco as Dan’s only two employees, one with too much experience and the other with far too little, but this needed several re-writes if not a complete overhaul. I’m shocked such a great cast (which also includes Sienna Miller and June Diane Raphael) could be assembled for a script that rarely made me laugh, although there were a couple of chuckles in there.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 4/10

Chappie (2015)
1251623 - Chappie
In contrast this is a film I definitely did know got released, but apparently was terrible. Well, I disagree. Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting much, but for the most part I found this film very interesting, right up until the final moments when it all turned to shit. It’s a film where, as with All is Lost a couple of years ago, at various points in the film I could have said I was loving it, but that final tweak ruined everything that had happened before. The story sees South Africa employing robot policeman to help contain the criminal problems, and Dev Patel, the designer behind the robots, working on an artificial intelligence in his spare time. When he cracks the code he uploads it into one such Scout bot destined for destruction, but through unforeseen circumstances the ‘bot, who soon goes by the name Chappie, ends up in the hands of a small time gang who raise this new consciousness to be just like them. Meanwhile, Patel’s nemesis within the company is Hugh Jackman, who intends to use Chappie to help promote his own robot design, the behemoth, ED-209-like MOOSE. There’s a lot to like, most notable Chappie himself, who was motion captured from Sharlto Copley. It says a great deal that his character is so well realised and so easy to empathise with that when he was in apparent danger my partner requested me not watch any more because she didn’t want to see anything bad happen to the guy. I watched it later on my own. The gang that Chappie falls in with is comprised of three people, two of whom are real-life I-guess-you-could-call-it-music act Die Antwoord. They are very enigmatic and engaging screen presences but, and this in particular applies to Ninja, my word are they frustrating. He (I hope) plays a character who I would describe as being aggressively ignorant, and it terrifies me that people like this are out there in the world. I sincerely hope it’s just a character and Ninja is an incredible talent, but part of me thinks he might have just been portraying himself. As for the film, there could have been something great here, and I appreciate the novel take on the first A.I. being raised by incapable, highly irresponsible hands, but it fumbles the ball when it goes all Transcendence.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Posts you may have missed:
Tales from the Crypt
– Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights and Movie Nights and Channel: Superhero held a month-long blogathon looking at an episode of Tales From The Crypt every day. I’d barely even heard of the show before, let alone seen an episode, but I signed up anyway and watched Death of Some Salesman, featuring Ed Begley Jr. and Tim Curry in multiple roles.
5 Favourite Things: Escape From New York
5 Favourite Things: The Thing
FTS Word Around the Campfire: Movies That Scare Us
– The latest monthly collaborative post sees us all talking about films that terrified us in the past. For me, that’d be The Shining.
FTS in the Movies – No-one has even guessed this week’s films yet! Try and spot the films behind the FTS faces.
USA Road Trip: Connecticut: Beetlejuice
Lambcast #293 Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately, Horror Special
– I was joined by Daniel Lackey, Mette Kowalski, Lindsay Street and Heather Baxendale to get into the Halloween spirit by talking about some horror films we’d each seen recently. I discussed Let the Right One In (my full review of which will be along here soon), whilst others talked about Interview with the Vampire, the Scream franchise and the original versions of Dawn of the Dead and Poltergeist.
John Wick

Goals Update
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
Watched: 44
To go: 17
Should be on: 52
On Track: No!

Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
Watched: 48
To go: 11
Should be on: 45
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
Reviewed: 3
To go: 0
Should be on: 3

Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 8
To go: 4
Should be on: 10
On Track: No!

Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 34
To go: 18
Should be on: 44
On Track: No!

Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 64
To go: 11
Should be on: 63
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Finish French Toast Sunday Road Trip series
Reviewed: 10
To go: 6
Should be on: 12
On Track: No!

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