My Fortnight in Film, 2017 Weeks 4-5

We’re five weeks into the year and I’ve still not gone to the cinema, clearly something is wrong with the world. However tomorrow sees the UK release of The Lego Batman Movie, so my streak will be over in a matter of hours, hurrah! I meant to write one of these last week, and in fact I had a whole introduction revolving around my latest expedition to the barber (possibly the worst I’ve ever had) but then I realised quite how dull that idea was, and that writing nothing would be preferable to tosh, hence why I’ll be stopping this introduction and getting on with the films I saw in the past fortnight right about…now.

Wiener Dog (2016)
Todd Solondz’s latest isn’t his best, but retains his usual bitter comedy.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Full review here.

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
I’ve seen this before, but Aisha hadn’t. I still think it has great acting performances and is a solid drama. Worth watching, but a repeat viewing wasn’t necessary, I got it first time around.
Lists: None
Choose Film 7/10

Escape From L.A. (1996)
My lord this is a ridiculous film. I love the first film, and had always heard the sequel was utterly terrible, but when How Did This Get Made did a show on it, it seemed the perfect time to finally watch it, and yeah the opinions I’d heard were correct. This tried to follow almost the exact same plot as the first film – legendary badass Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is conned and blackmailed into heading to an immensely dangerous area to retrieve something of great value, and runs into a variety of wacky characters who help and hinder him along the way. First time around it was saving the President (Donald Pleasence) from a post-apocalyptic New York overrun with convicts, this time Snake must bring back a weapon capable of wiping out all the world’s electronics, which has been taken by the President’s daughter to L.A., which due to natural disasters and political crises has become the American equivalent of Australia for the UK in the 1800s. Snake enters L.A., which is being run by revolutionary Cuervo Jones, via some awful CGI which will only get worse as the film progresses, and has just 10 hours to bring the gadget back before he dies of a virus he was infected with as part of the coersion to make him comply with the mission. Along the way he comes across the likes of Steve Buscemi, Pam Grier and Peter bloody Fonda, and partakes in some horrendous surfing, paragliding and the most gruelling one-man game of basketball on film. Whilst Escape From New York is often more than a little insane, Escape From L.A. stretches the realms of credulity past entertainment and into the face-palm zone. And I know I’ve already mentioned how horrible the CGI is, but seriously, it’s easily amongst the worst I’ve EVER seen.
Lists: None
Choose Life 3/10

Sausage Party (2016)
Imagine Toy Story, but with food and way fouler language, and instead of a middle-management metaphor there’s soem of the most heavy-handed religious metaphors ever seen and you’ll have some idea of what this wants to be. It’s often fun and the premise is innovative, but the funniest moments were in the trailer, and at times the religious parallels were way too over the top. Plus the film’s villain didn’t have much of an impact due to it being something less familiar to people in the UK. The voice cast was for the most part great though, with Edward Norton and Bill Hader being particular highlights.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Captain Fantastic (2016)
Viggo Mortensen has been nominated for an Oscar for his role as a father of his six children who, after the death of his wife and their mother, finds his nomadic, back-to-nature way of life put under intense questioning by his father-in-law, played by Frank Langella. I’d heard a great deal about Captain Fantastic being rather good, and I have to agree. Not only is it a sweet and moving story, but it is well told, beautifully shot around the mountains and forests of Washington (where the first Rambo film was set, although that was shot in British Columbia), and provides a thought-provoking and discussion-worthy approach to life and parenting that had Aisha and I chatting for a while after the film, which doesn’t happen all that often. Sometimes it hit the nail a little too squarely on the head – the comparison between the youngest child and the kids of Mortensen’s sister-in-law and her husband (Kathryn Hahn and Steve Zahn, always happy to see them both crop up in films) went a little far I think, but everything else worked wonderfully. Overall it wasn’t as light-hearted as I’d anticipated, and is much more of a drama than the brightly-clad poster and pulpy title would lead you to believe, but it remains one of 2016’s best and under-discovered films.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Film 8/10

Senna (2010)
Finally crossed off the 1001 List because director Asif Kapadia was the LAMB’s director of the month. I wasn’t a fan, mainly because of the subject matter.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Full review here.

The Lost Weekend (1945)
The first Best Picture winner I’m crossing off this year, although I’ve not actually reviewed it yet, expect that soon.
Lists: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500
Full review coming soon.

Deepwater Horizon (2016)
The first of two Berg Bros. movies based on true stories of disaster and heroism from 2016, Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon tells the tale of the Deepwater Horizon, a semi-submersible deep water drilling rig, which due to poor maintenance and pushy management suffered a devastating explosion back in 2010. Mark Wahlberg is our lead, the rig’s Chief Electrical Technician, and he’s supported by the likes of Kurt Russell (the rig’s captain), Gina Rodriguez (navigation officer), Ethan Suplee and Dylan O’Brien (parts of the drilling team) and John Malkovich (representative from BP oil). Kate Hudson also plays Wahlberg’s concerned wife back home. I enjoy disaster movies and films where small groups of people must survive and escape hazardous situations – that’s about the only thing that will explain my love for Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight – but whilst Deepwater Horizon had some truly magnificent special effects – it was nominated for Visual Effects, the main reason I watched this, making that the only nomination category this year where I’ve seen every nominee – I was actually disappointed about the lack of the disaster side of it. I felt very bad about writing that, as this is based on a true event in which several real people died, but the film – and that’s what I’m critiquing here, not the actual event – suffers from Titanic syndrome, wherein half the film is spent setting up the characters and the location, then the bad shit goes down, and the second half deals with the fall-out. Unfortunately where Titanic had an immense sense of scale and grandeur, plus some across-the-tracks class comparisons and a decent love story between Jack and Rose, Deepwater Horizon just has a management scuffle between Malkovich, Wahlberg and Russell, plus pages and pages and pages of techno-babble, which Wahlberg reads off like another list of trashy names from Ted. There’s also way more exposition than is needed – Wahlberg has an amazing scene early on with his daughter, where he fully explains the role of the rig, but we then get to hear it again in parts later on, plus this film has the most descriptive on-screen text since Suicide Squad. I swear at one point we’re shown a new location, and instead of it just saying something like “SOUTHAMPTON DOCKS, ENGLAND” we get five whole lines of text explaining what this place is and what they do, spread over three pages. Surely that’s something that should be delivered in a far more economical way? Regardless, there is a generally gripping film here, so if you like big effects films and want something more grown up and dramatic than a Transformers sequel then yeah, this is the place to go.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 7/10

Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016)
I’ve never seen the first two, which apparently is a crime in the country, but I’ve never got past a general dislike for Renee Zellweger, but this wasn’t too bad. I mean it wasn’t great and I’m not rushing out to see what I missed from the original films, but I smiled a couple of times and found some jokes to be quite funny. I’m putting the responsibility of that purely on Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay and has a supporting role in many of the funnier scenes. I think you’ll know if you’ll like this before you read the review, so I wont waste much more of your time other than to say that Aisha reckons if you liked the first two, you’ll like this one as well. If you’ve never seen the first two but can enjoy a lightweight rom-com with a mildly unsatisfying ending then yeah, I suppose I’ll agree.
Lists: 2016 Movies
Choose Life 6/10

Posts you may have missed:
Lambcast #358: Roll Your Own Top 5 I was joined by Lindsay Street, Nick Rehak, JD Duran and Darren Bolton to each list our own Top 5 lists on whatever topics we liked. I talked about my favourite movie prison escapes, whilst others listed their top documentaries from 2016, practical effects films from the past decade, live-action movies with talking animals and films they’d like to see re-cast with Muppets.
Lambcast #359: Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately I was joined by Rebecca Sharp, Richard Kirkham, Vern and Jordan Jeske to talk about films we’ve seen recently, including The Lost Weekend, Trainspotting 2, A Dog’s Purpose, Permanent Vacation and Bates Motel.
Wiener Dog review
Senna review
The LAMB Devours The Oscars – Best Visual Effects

1 thought on “My Fortnight in Film, 2017 Weeks 4-5

  1. Escape from L. A. is such a stupid movie, but it will always hold a tiny place in my heart because of Bruce Campbell’s turn as the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills. It’s the only part of the film where the ridiculousness actually works.

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