My Week in Movies, 2016 Week 40

In all the fuss and hubbub with China I completely forgot what time of year it was, it’s New 1001 Movies Book time!10012016

There have been ten additions for the 2016 edition and, as the number in the title hasn’t changed, that means there’s ten removals too. We’ll get to those in a minute (they’re less important, as just because a film gets removed from the List doesn’t mean I’m not going to still review it) but first, here are the additions, along with any top-of-my-head thoughts on them:

The Look of Silence – I still haven’t seen The Act Of Killing yet, let alone this one. I sense a very depressing double bill in my future.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – A surprising addition. It did well commercially, but I feel it is far too soon to give The Force Awakens the kind of cultural significance required for the List. Then again I didn’t love it as much as everyone else. Considering what didn’t make it, I’m a little sad to see this here.
The Revenant – No surprise given the team behind it, regardless of my feelings. I’m very glad I anticipated this being added and reviewed it when I did, as it means I don’t have to sit through it again.
Son of Saul – I’ve heard a little, and what I’ve heard is good.
Bridge of Spies – Another surprise. I feel Spielberg is taking the Hitchcock mantle of being a great director, but having far too many films on the List. I liked Bridge of Spies, don’t get me wrong, but it’s my no means essential viewing.
The Big Short – I thought this film was fine, but wasn’t wowed by it. Topical, but again not really List-worthy. This is starting to feel like a make-the-numbers kind of year.
Spotlight – Best Picture winners always make it on, even ones as average as this. I watched it earlier this year with the intention of completing a write-up in preparation for this day, so maybe I’ll be a bit more inspired to get to it now.
Tangerine – The addition I know the least about. It sounds promising and, if it’s not, then at least it’s short.
Straight Outta Compton – Making a correction the Oscars missed out on, this is a welcome addition that I thoroughly enjoyed despite having absolutely zero prior knowledge of NWA.
Mad Max: Fury Road – Another complete lack of surprise, and a film I’m delighted to see immortalised on the List forever.

So what got taken off? This bunch:
Senna – Haven’t seen it yet.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Haven’t seen it yet.
Drive – I’m OK with this. I’ve not re-watched it since my initial viewing, so my thoughts on this are still pretty underwhelmed.
Amour – Good. I remember not hating this film, but also not ever wanting to watch it again.
Django Unchained – I liked it, as I do pretty much all Tarantino, but it’s not essential.
The Act of Killing – Haven’t seen it yet. Presumably this made room for The Look Of Silence.
The Wolf of Wall Street – Glad this is being removed. I’m not a fan.
Citizen Four – Haven’t seen it yet.
Guardians of the Galaxy – I’m surprised this has left so early, especially given the continued prevalence of superhero movies, and with the recent slew of bad ones proving this to be a better example of the genre. Still, every time I watch it I like it less.
The Theory of Everything – Decent film but yeah, it was never going to last on the List.

Overall it’s a fairly standard changeover. Nothing knock-me-down surprising on either side, and nothing terribly upsetting either. I still think these additions are made far too soon after the films are released – this year we should be looking at additions that were released in maybe 2011 – as cultural impact hasn’t yet been proven, but I also understand that the book-sellers are more likely to flog copies with The Revenant and Fury Road on the cover than The Artist and War Horse. I’m surprised (but not overly disappointed) that the likes of Ex Machina, Sicario, Inside Out, Brooklyn and Creed didn’t make it, and I genuinely thought that The Martian and Room would have good shots, and am annoyed that they aren’t present, especially when Bridge of Spies and The Big Short made it instead. I reviewed Inside Out purely because I thought it’d be added! Ah well. I wonder what’s going to be added next year? I doubt anything discussed in the rest of this post will be added!

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
battle-beyond-the-stars
Preparation for the Magnificent Seven Remake-a-Palooza Lambcast continued with this Roger Corman produced sci-fi version from 1980, which I watched on a laptop screen waiting in Hong Kong airport, just like all films should be watched. This, I think it’s fair to say, is not a good film. It sees a primitive farming planet, Akir, under attack from Sador (John Saxon), a ruthless and scenery chewing tyrant who promises that in seven days he will return and enslave the planet and all its people, and if they fight back he will destroy Akir with his Death Star Cannon-like Stellar Converter, which essentially turns planets into stars. One villager, Shad (Richard Thomas), takes Akir’s last remaining fighter ship, with disembodied computer voice Nell (Lynn Carlin) in search of space warriors to help defend their planet. He finds Nanelia (Darlanne Fluegel), a weapon-less robot mechanic, Space Cowboy (George Peppard), who is transporting a large shipment of handheld weaponry to a planet Sador just destroyed, Gelt (Robert Vaughn), an assassin in hiding, the Nestor – five beings all part of a mass collective consciousness who want to help to stave off boredom, Saint-Exmin (Sybil Danning), a war-hungry warrior out for a glorious death, and Cayman (Morgan Woodward), a reptilian bounty hunter accompanied by his Conan-like butler Quepeg (Steve Davis) and two being who communicate through heat called Kelvin. So much, so sci-fi version of The Magnificent Seven, just with some significantly odder characters amongst the seven. Like the guys who communicate through heat, I mentioned them, right? And how they don’t have any ears, just so later on they can step in and help out with something that needs those credentials. Oh and Sybil Danning’s character looks like she’s from a sci-fi porn parody, perpetually barely clothed, operating her ship from a lying-on-her-back position, and as I was watching in a public space (very close to a play area in the airport) I had to check with IMDb’s Parental Guidance section that there was nothing overly untoward heading my way in the imminent future. And Sador’s army is comprised of gash-faced clones and mutants, and Sador himself plans to live forever by replacing his limbs with those of slain enemies. And at one point one of the seven is attacked by a bubble screensaver. There are some interesting ideas, but there’s no rapport between any of the fighters – there’s at most one scene where they’re all in the same place, and even then I’m not sure they were all there – none of them have much characterisation, the effects are frankly awful and the climax is incredibly disappointing.
Lists: None
Choose Life 3/10

Money Monster (2016)
money-monsterGeorge Clooney plays the brash, bombastic host of a superlative-filled finance show, with Julia Roberts his beleaguered producer. One day, after an unprecedented nosedive in a particular stock Clooney had named a sure thing, a young man, Jack O’Connell, crashes the live broadcast with a gun and a bomb vest, threatening detonation unless he gets answers as to why his savings have suddenly disappeared. Plot-wise you can see where this is going from the first few seconds, but the performances are all great, particularly O’Connell, and I approved of the real-time format, keeping the pace and tension up. I’d hoped there would be a completely in-camera limitation to the film, with everything playing out as people at home would see it, but I can understand why, for the purposes of the story, this wouldn’t have worked. A decent time-passer, but not essential.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 7/10

Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
neighbors-2
Remember when that frat house moved in next door to Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s house in Bad Neighbours? Well such ridiculousness has happened again, but this time it’s a sorority led by Chloe Grace Moretz, in an attempt to form a female-led house that’s free from the rules that sorority cannot have parties. Some of the elements that made the first film so enjoyable have been toned down – Byrne is saddles with being heavily pregnant so is excused from much of the action, and there’s far less back-and-forth rivalry between the two warring factions – but there’s still a lot of enjoyment to have, especially once the couple’s friends, Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo, get involved. The cameos are fun, particularly the returning ones (the best line comes from Jerrod Carmichael’s Garf discussing his sexual orientation) and the sexism angle was a good one, although I have to disagree with the stance the film takes on throwing used tampons at windows, it’s absolutely disgusting.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Miles Ahead (2016)
untitled_shoot-4652.jpg
It’s a Miles Davis biopic, kind of. Don Cheadle wrote, directed and starred in this film that takes a narrow and presumably mostly fictional look at part of Davis’ career, after an absence for several years, followed by an apparent come-back. In an interview with Ewan McGregor’s journalist, Davis shows disinterest at the generic line of questioning, and the film is his response to the question “Well how would you tell it?” What follows is essentially a buddy movie with Davis trying to keep, then retrieve a session tape he doesn’t want to go public, all the while reflecting back on how he mistreated his former muse before she left him. Literally all I knew about Miles Davis before this was that at some point in time he played the trumpet, so when I say Cheadle is great I mean he was a captivating screen presence, but I don’t know how closely he portrayed Davis, but then again given the presumed lack of truth to the overall plot then the closeness of the performance is a moot point. The editing between scenes, dreams and time frames is interesting and a lot of the film is fun, but I didn’t find the subject matter very interesting and I found it at times difficult to follow. This could have been because I was halfway through a 12 hour flight and hadn’t slept for about 26 hours, but still.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Love & Friendship (2016)
love-and-friendship
At this point on the flight I wanted to have some sleep, but for some reason couldn’t, so I thought I knew the solution – a Jane Austen adaptation! And even better, one I knew nothing about with regards to the story, I thought I’d be out in minutes. Alas, despite being lost from the opening credits I found myself getting quite engrossed in the proceedings, even going so far as to re-start the film to place all the characters correctly. Essentially Kate Beckinsale plays Lady Susan, a well-regarded widow intent on setting her troublesome daughter up with a wealthy suitor, however there’s a huge number of seemingly identical people that it was almost impossible to keep straight in my mind, but there was enough comedy to keep me smiling. Most of this comes from Susan’s acid barbs, and Tom Bennett as a decidedly stupid but rich potential partner for Susan’s daughter. Bennett, who was great in PhoneShop and I hope will be excellent in Christopher Guest’s upcoming Mascots, is a joy to watch, even if it’s just discovering what peas are. There’s so much dialogue and so many characters that I feel this would improve greatly with repeat viewings, especially when I’m not quite so tired. Plus Beckinsale is pretty fantastic in the role, and I never need an excuse to watch her in a film.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Film 7/10

The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
angry-birds
There wasn’t long left on my flight by this point, so I opted for the shortest film left that I hadn’t seen and didn’t actively not want to watch, which happened to be this one. I used to play the game, and the voice cast is great (Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale) so I thought it might be alright, but it’s just a generic child-pleaser with an over-reliance on bird or pig-based puns. I laughed a few times, but not many, and plot-wise it’s just really rather stupid. However this could be Danny McBride’s least annoying role, though Sean Penn seems a bizarre choice for the giant smashing Terence.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 4/10

The Magnificent Seven (2016)
mag7
This is what all the preparation is about, the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington as the lead cowboy, assembling a very mixed group of associates – Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier and Vincent D’onofrio – to help defend a small town from evil mining baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). The seven are all at least good, sometimes great, even Hawke, who I don’t normally like but do enjoy here (his character is the ridiculously named Goodnight Robicheaux, his parents were presumably disappointed when he didn’t grow up to be a Bond girl). D’onofrio, playing some kind of mountain man, does something odd with the pitch of his voice that I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not but it made him distinctive to the others, and Lee was in the role that’s always my favourite, the stoic, mostly silent knife guy (it’s the James Coburn role from the 1960 version). Sarsgaard is an effective villain, it’s just a chame they don’t use him enough and, despite Denzel Washington being the lead and there being occasional references to the multi-racial nature of the group – Washington is black, Pratt is supposedly Irish, Hawke is Cajun, D’Onofrio a former scalper of Native Americans, Lee an undefined Asian, Garcia-Rulfo a Mexican and Sensmeier a Native American – they actually do very little with this, even amongst the group themselves. I liked that they gave the lead villager role to Haley Bennett, despite her ludicrously low-cut top and propensity for running. All in all, this feels like a fairly generic modern action film that doesn’t bring a great deal new to the story. When I’d first heard this would be a different setting, like prohibition-era Chicago, I was intrigued, but this straight, watered down remake seems entirely pointless.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Jurassic Park (1993)
jurassic-park
The perfect film for me to crash out to after a long day’s travelling. I’ve got nothing new to add, I just love this movie.
Lists: None (Already crossed off from: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire Top 500, Empire Top 301, Total Film Top 100)
Choose Film 10/10

I, Robot (2004)
irobot
Aisha has been watching this in the background whilst I write this post and update my 1001 spreadsheet (Friday nights are super cool in our house). It’s been ages since I last saw it, and it seems to have gotten merged with Minority Report in my memory. The CGI hasn’t aged well at all, Will Smith’s Detective Del Spooner comes off as an arrogant, progress-denying luddite, and he seems capable of making gigantic leaps in logic whenever the plot requires. Alan Tudyk is prettty great as the robot Sonny though.
Lists: None
Choose Life 5/10

Jurassic World (2015)
jurassic-world
Also on in the background. I’ve discussed this before so I won’t spend long. I still enjoy it, though I’m well aware of the flaws. Since having now watched more Parks & Recreation I recognised Eric Edelstein, who played Andy’s nemesis Lawrence in series one, plays the paddock supervisor responsible for all the problems of the film.
Lists: None
Choose Film 8/10

Posts you may have missed:
Lambcast #342 The Magnificent Seven Remake-A-Palooza: I was joined by Todd Liebenow, Aaron Neuwirth and Richard Kirkham to discuss Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven (1960), Battle Beyond the Stars and The Magnificent Seven (2016).
September 2016 Update
Cool Hand Luke

Goals Update
Aim: Review 8 or 9 1001 List movies each month
Reviewed: 49 (this jumped up a few since this year I’ve already reviewed some of the new 1001 additions)
Should be on: 77
On Track: No!

Aim: Review 1 “Bad” movie each month
Reviewed: 9
Should be on: 9
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Review 1 “Blind Spot” movie each month
Reviewed: 9
Should be on: 9
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Review 2 “Film-Makers” movies each month
Reviewed: 14
Should be on: 19
On Track: No!

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6 thoughts on “My Week in Movies, 2016 Week 40

  1. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | Lambcast #343 Carry On Screaming MOTM

  2. Yeah Jay, some of the choices of what they added to the 1001 list were bizarre, don’t understand why The Big Short is on the list and you know from the rant I shared with Will Slater that I do not think The Revenant should be on the list, The Martian, Room, Inside Out, Creed, Girlhood or Anomalisa would have been better choices, agree with Son of Saul being on there, that was a brilliant film, although a very harrowing watch. We did have similar experiences with films on flights, you to and from China, me to and from Toronto. We both watched Keanu on the way down (I thought that was decent, working as well as it did mainly due to how well Key and Peele play off each other, really looking forward to Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out) and we both watched the Angry Birds Movie as the last one on the return flight (again, I thought it was decent, I think I liked it more than you did, I laughed a fair few times watching the film and I thought the animation was really good and it did as well a job as can be expected at translating the mechanics of the game into a story. Then again, I may not be the best person to trust in regard to video game adapted films, I’m one of the people who really enjoyed Warcraft, gave it a 4 star review and I preferred it over films like Star Trek Beyond, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, Deadpool and Midnight Special) because it was the shortest one (plus, for me, the other short one I was interested in was Elvis and Nixon and I watched it on the flight going to Toronto, found it pretty good overall, mainly due to the performances from Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey), although the best film I saw on either of the flights was Sing Street, which I convinced my Dad to watch on the flight as well after I raved about it to him.

    • Whilst I didn’t love The Revenant I think that, from a film-making and spectacle perspective it’s earned a place on the list, it’s the same with Boyhood last year.

      I still haven’t seen Warcraft (I may never see it) and alas Elvis & Nixon wasn’t on my flight or I’d have made that a priority. And yeah, Sing Street is awesome.

  3. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | Lambscores: The Magnificent Storks

  4. We’ll disagree on Spotlight. I agree that it’s not an exciting film and I get why a lot of people are underwhelmed by it, but I think it is essential viewing. Admittedly, this is an opinion being expressed specifically by an American, and a non-believing American specifically, and that absolutely colors my vision.

    The U.S. is an extremely religious nation. In fact, it’s an embarrassingly religious nation. Other parts of the world are far more immune to the various charms and claims of the religoius, but the U.S. is not. People need to be reminded not just that a massive religion was involved in one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, but that it was involved at a high level and that the cover-up involved hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, not just in Boston but around the world.

    If we discovered that Wal-Mart employees or techs who work at Apple stores were–as an essentially organized group–molesting children and then being transferred to other stores in lieu of being charged with the crimes, those businesses would be gone within the year. And yet millions who claim to be outraged and offended by this are still giving the church 10% of their income.

    They need to be reminded that this is terrible. Maybe that’s not the case where you are, but it’s definitely the case here.

    • That’s a fair view point Steve, and not one I’d previously considered. I think Spotlight deserves a second viewing from me, and I will keep your thoughts in mind. I understand the seriousness of the story being told, I was just underwhelmed by the manner in which it was depicted. I just doubt whether many of the people who give 10% of their income to the church actually saw the film, I doubt it’s one that will be shown at regular church meetings.

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