My Fortnight in Film, 2016 Weeks 41 & 42

Apologies for the lack of update last week, I hadn’t written any reviews and I was too engrossed in season 2 of The Wire to get anything else done. Now I’ve finished that season, so it’s the perfect opportunity for me to discuss it, spoiler-free of course.
wire-2Season two is essentially known as the “Docks” season, or the “Cannot Live Up To The Greatness Of Season One” season, but it also felt a lot like the “Setting Up Lots Of Elements And Putting Them In Place For The Future At The Expense Of The Season’s Overall Quality” season. Initially I didn’t much care for the entire docks side of the story, as it at least partially side-lined the more interesting and engaging characters and storylines from the previous season. Also, I felt it took too long to resolve how some characters ended up last time around, and get them into a position where they could interact with this season’s plot, and that come the climax the writers were so eager to get out of this season and onto the next one that they threw everything together in the last episode or two, cramming in as much as possible to get it over and done with, which I found very unsatisfying. Still, I liked the introduction of some of the new characters, like Beadie Russell (Amy Ryan, an actress I’ve been keeping an eye out for since she blew me away in Gone Baby Gone) and Frank Sabotka (Chris Bauer). And whilst this season wasn’t as good as the first, it was still very compelling, and I’ve heard season 3 is possibly even better than the first, although I might take a little break and watch a season of something else, just to space it out. Fortunately The Walking Dead starts again this week, and The Night Of is available streaming on Sky, and I’ve heard great things about that. Look for my thoughts on those soon. In the mean time, here’s what I watched this past two weeks:

Carry On Screaming (1966)
carry-on-screamingOctober’s horror special Movie of the Month winner was a surprising one, especially given the Carry On… franchise is, as far as I’m aware, barely even known outside of the UK. This was my first ever Carry On film, and whilst it was far better than I’d expected, I’m still not exactly racing to see any more. I was expecting a lot of smut, innuendo and distractingly plunging cleavages and, whilst those were all in attendance, they didn’t take over the film, and it was in fact a lot quainter that I’d imagined, with an entire scene spent with a bunch of policemen being too embarrassed to look at the posterior of a female mannequin. The film was funny and entertaining, but not in a must-see way, more in a “that was enjoyable, what’s next?” kind of way, regardless of how much I enjoyed the puns and word-play.
Lists: None
Choose Life 6/10

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
fosterI’d all but written off this film about aspiriing but talentless opera singer Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) and her devoted husband (Hugh Grant) who will do anything to make her dream come true, as the trailer looked unbearably twee and inconsequential, but in actuality this is a very enjoyable film, with some stellar performances we’ve come to expect from the leads, along with Simon Kinberg as Jenkins’ beleaguered pianist Cosmé McMoon. Should Streep receive her seemingly annual Oscar nomination for this role I will not be disappointed, as she is very, very good, especially when it comes to having to sing poorly, given how talented she is vocally.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Film 7/10

Forbidden Planet (1956)
rp-robbieWatched for Blueprint: Review. Struggling to get my thoughts together on this one but I should be there soon.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Full review coming soon.

War On Everyone (2016)
war-on-everyoneI’m a fan of John Michael McDunnough’s previous two films The Guard and Calvary, and after a very fun trailer I was looking forward to this a great deal, but sadly I was disappointed. War On Everyone follows two corrupt policemen (Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena) in New Mexico as they shake down every criminal they come across and are generally horrible people to everyone they meet, including Pena’s children. They get double-crossed on a dodgy deal, and end up in deeper with a dangerous villain (Theo James) than they’d ever intended. Some parts are funny, but the unrepentant racism, sexism and xenophobia is at best mildly amusing, but more often uncomfortable and crude. It’s not a new type of comedy for McDunnough – in The Guard, Brendan Gleeson’s poilceman admits to racism being a part of his culture – but whereas there the insults came from a place of ignorance and stupidity, in War On Everyone the two leads seem to be bitter, awful people with full knowledge of how terrible they are.Plus a lot of the off-colour remarks are made with no purpose other than to offend, such as during a tennis game in which Skarsgard’s character faces off against a couple of women wearing burqas, leading to some slurs from him that go nowhere, and are merely present just to chalk up another type of person on the offended list. Pena and Skarsgard do have great chemistry though, although they’ve had even more doing promotional work for the film, and Paul Reiser is fun as their commander. Still, the way-too-upbeat Hollywood ending doesn’t fit with the rest of the film whatsoever, and I’m in no way surprised that there’s been no USA release date announced yet, given how much comedy is aimed at the tendency for American police to shoot whomever they like with no consequences, particularly people who aren’t white.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 5/10

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
kuboI’ve heard nothing but great thigns about Kubo and the Two Strings, so I finally made the move to go and see it, and on the last day before it left my local cinema, and I was not disappointed. The stop-motion aniamtion is phenomenal, especially the utter scale of what is on screen, with giant sets and huge crowd scenes, with so much going on at once. Production company Laika really set themselves a challenge with this one, and rose to meet it wonderfully. The film’s opening line of “If you must blink, do it now” is very fitting, as looking away even for a second feels like an affront to the work put in by the animators. Initially I found it a little difficult to get behind some of the less established elements of the story – Kubo is a boy with the magical ability to control origami with the aid of his banjo-like shamisen, being hunted by his grandfather, the Moon King, for his one remaining eye – but by the end I was totally on board and the cinema may have even gotten a little dusty during the climax. My only concern is the voice talent, as this is a Japan-set tale, yet big name white actors Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara were cast in the primary roles, yet the film still didn’t make a great deal of money, so it’s felt that Japanes actors could have accomplished exactly the same result. That has no effect on the quality of the film though, which is hugely enjoyable, wonderfully told and beyond impressive in its execution.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Film 9/10

Little Children (2006)
Lists: Kate Winslet Movies
Full review coming soon.

Monsters University (2013)
monsters-universityA background watch at the request of Aisha after a car journey conversation devolved into us both quoting this and Monsters Inc for quite a while. It’s still a lot of fun, every time I watch it I appreciate some of the supporting characters more, especially the members of Oozma Kappa. And yeah, I’m still pissed it didn’t get nominated for Best Animated Feature.
Lists: None
Choose Film 8/10

The Exorcist (1973)
exorcismThis month’s Blind Spot pick. Disappointing.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301, Total Film’s Top 100, Blind Spot Movies
Full review here.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
masqueOn a recent Lambcast we discussed Battle Beyond The Stars, at which point I announced that I didn’t think there were any Roger Corman movies on the 1001 List. A few days later, this arrived randomly in the post, and I was proven incorrect.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Full review coming soon.

Posts you may have missed:
Lambcast #343 Carry On Screaming: I was joined by Rebecca Sharp and Kristen Lopez to discuss the latest Movie of the Month.
Lambcast #344 Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately Horror Special: I was joined by Sofia da Costa, Will Slater, Mario Brown and The Vern to discuss horror films we’ve all seen recently. We talked about The Exorcist, Frankenstein, A Tale of Two Sisters, Honeymoon and Let The Right One In.
Favourite Scene Friday: The Thing
The Exorcist
Talking Stars #18 Kate Winslet: I was a guest on the Talking Stars podcast for their Kate Winslet episode, as it seemed a fitting way to end my Kate Winslet mission. We talked about Contagion, Revolutionary Road, Divergent and, of course, my last film on her list, Little Children, which all being well I’ll be reviewing very soon.

Goals Update
Aim: Review 8 or 9 1001 List movies each month
Reviewed: 50
Should be on: 81
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: 10
Should be on: 10
On Track:Yes!

Aim: Review 2 “Film-Makers” movies each month
Reviewed: 14
Should be on: 20
On Track:No!

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