This is a little late, but if you’ve been following the site since back when I posted “weekly” updates then you’ll be all too familiar with my lack of regular scheduling, and seeing as you’re still here tardiness clearly does something for you. Towards the end of February – and indeed, at the start and in the middle as well – I became incredible busy. I received a promotion at work (or rather, a colleague left, I inherited their workload, and therefore suggested that a title modification and pay rise might potentially be in order), took on an apprentice to train, and at home we really got stuck into the kitchen, ripping it out in preparation for someone more competent than myself to fit it professionally. Also we had a holiday to Iceland booked for the 2nd of March and the Oscars happened. All of these things cut into my regular life, and as such very little happened on this site, and this wrap-up post is over 3 weeks late. Sorry about that. Let’s take a look back at four weeks of my life, which occurred seven and a bit weeks ago:
Review one film a week:
Just like in January, I only reviewed two films in February, and at this point in time neither of them are actually on any of the lists I’m supposed to be going through, but if Roma isn’t on the 1001 List by the end of this year then apparently I don’t understand what the heck the List is even about. At this point Bohemian Rhapsody is a coin toss, so we’ll see.
Watch one Blind Spot a month
Fate was in my favour in February, as Tombstone, one of my blind spots, was voted the Movie of the Month over on the LAMB! Hurrah! Prior to watching I thought I might have seen it before, but evidently I had not, but I enjoyed it immensely. The cast is stacked, with Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Stephen Lang and of course Val Kilmer being stand-outs. The Billy Bob Thornton scene, in which Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp confronts Thornton’s brash yet cowardly card dealer, is amazing, and has been watched several times by me since. I’m also over halfway through the run of Tombstone Minute podcasts, looking at Tombstone one minute at a time, hosted by the guys from the Titanic Minute podcast, which I’d also recommend, especially if you’re a fan of the films.
Finish watching The Wire
Still haven’t started yet, and I’ve now got less than two months until I head to Baltimore. This is going to be a real struggle to complete in time, especially given my wife has no interest in watching any of it.
Start watching Deadwood and Twin Peaks
Tombstone has invigorated my desire to watch more westerns so Deadwood looks ever more tempting, but The Wire must take priority. The Deadwood movie is being released on May 31st, which would be a nice but probably unachievable deadline.
Read a book a month
When this post was due this would have been a no, but seeing as I’ve had an extra few weeks I actually managed to finish a book, and not just any book, but the book I intended to read! No, not Moby Dick, although I’ve read a teeny tiny bit more of that since finish the other book. Nope, I started, middled and ended Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, which will soon be adapted by Kenneth Branagh to follow up Murder on the Orient Express. I enjoyed the book of Murder more than the film, and I’m hoping the same isn’t true for Death on the Nile, because book-wise it was a step down. The first quarter is a tangled, confusing mess of characters all over the place, and it wasn’t until midway through the third quarter that I think I had them all settled into place. I know that’s not uncommon for Poirot stories, but it seemed particularly egregious this time around. If I’d known who’d been cast as each character whilst I was reading it. perhaps I’d have found it easier to distinguish them in my mind, as was the case with Murder, but also I think the characters in Murder are more clearly defined, as many of the ones in Death fit into similar archetypal roles, at least initially. Some elements of the finale were not as expected, and too many characters ended up with cheesy endings, but it was still a decent enough mystery.
Updates to Life Vs Film and the LAMB
I’m still getting to grips with a WordPress update on the LAMB site, which has stilted some templates I’d been using before, but I think I’ve found a workaround. That’s a vague way of saying nothing has really changed outwardly on the LAMB or here. Big thanks to Rob from MovieRob for overseeing the LAMB’s Oscar coverage this year though.
Real world improvements
Big steps this month. I mentioned earlier that we’ve been ripping out the kitchen, and by the end of February work had begun on installing the new one. It still isn’t completely finished, but it has returned to a functioning state beaning we’re no longer using a makeshift kitchenette setup on our dining table and doing the washing up in the bath, which has not been a lot of fun for my back. That’s all over with now though, yay! I also gave blood in February, my second time doing so, but my first time unintentionally giving more than I was supposed to. I’m something of a heavy bleeder, meaning once I was laying in the chair with the tube in my arm there was really no stopping the blood from almost literally pouring out of me. After just a few minutes I’d set off the “We’ve taken too much blood” alarm and was suggested to take a longer rest before heading home, but I was – and continue to remain – fine. I was finished with that blood anyway.
Run every other day
Just like January, I was so close to having accomplished this that I’m going to mark it as completed. I was ill for the first few days of the month, so the only time I ran during that period was a late night jog to the corner shop for some dinner supplies, so I did technically miss one of my alternating day runs, but I compensated with an additional run km, later in the month. Basically, in February I went for 14 runs, totalling 81.1km (50.7 miles), over 10km more than January. I even went for a run the morning after donating blood, which apparently was foolish but it didn’t even affect my time. Murphy continues to enjoy our weekday morning runs, but I still prefer my solo weekend one as there’s less stopping for him to pee, and far less having to wrangle him away from barking at cars. Also I get to run further. I… I think I like running. I guess I’m a runner now. Huh.
Nope. Being extra busy always takes time away from other things, and the first place to make a sacrifice, for me, is sleeping. It’s never intentional, but my get-up time is pretty rigid (6am Monday to Friday to walk Murph, meaning I’m up around that time Saturday and Sunday too) and my go-to-bed time is “when everything is done or I can’t stand up anymore”. It’s bad, I know.
This has been the most successful. I continued losing at least 1kg a week, and at the end of February I’d hit 100kg (220lb), which is the lowest I’ve been for a long time. Two weeks in February saw me lose 2kg, which were good weeks. I’ve dug out some clothes that didn’t fit before and they’re already feeling slightly too big, so great news all round.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – Still very good. I don’t love these films as much as I feel I should, but I at least appreciate them, aside from the adults being Scottish and the children being American, which infuriates me no end.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) – Love the additional creative dragon designs, but Drago Bloodfist is such a weak villain.
Tombstone (1993) – As mentioned earlier, this was great.
Up (2009) – The film my wife and I describe as “our film” as it’s the one we saw together on our first date. Remains a favourite in our house. Dug is the best; Kevin is also a delight.
Dr. No (1962) – The great Lambcast James Bond rewatch has begun! We broke the franchise down into 4-movie chunks for franchise lookbacks, starting with the first four Connerys, of which I could remember very little aside from Goldfinger, which is the best. Dr. No deserves credit for establishing elements of the franchise but it suffers from a lack of editing (I don’t need a full scene of someone giving Bond an entire set of directions, whilst he takes them step by step, or to see a full decontamination shower process for two people) and drags in a few places. The production design of Dr. No’s lair is great though.
Purl (2018) – The first of Pixar’s new Spark Shorts program. A pink ball of wool named Purl starts a job at a first of entirely suit-clad men. It deals with sexism and the troubles with trying to fit in. Fun, but not revolutionary. Worth a watch though.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – The latest addition to my beloved Lego franchise, this lacks some of the original’s surprise but remains incredibly fun and even has a few tricks up its sleeve. Phenomenal supporting cast – Richard Ayoade as an ice cream cone – and a wonderful soundtrack I’ve been listening to on repeat ever since. It’s very much got stuck inside my head.
From Russia With Love (1963) – Fantastic. Can’t believe I had no recollection of any of it. Robert Shaw is a great foil for Bond, and everything on the train is incredible.
Thunderball (1965) – Really, really dull. Way too much underwater “action”, plus more aquatic wildlife shots than an episode of Blue Planet.
Goldfinger (1964) – Still the best. Still love it, incredibly problematic kiss-her-until-she-likes-it scenes aside.
Smash and Grab (2019) – Another Pixar short, this time following two robots tasked with processing energy, whilst the other robots who use the energy are living it up outside.
Life of the Party (2018) – It was streaming, Aisha seemed interested and I needed a background film to laptop to. This was a good choice in that it was incredibly easy to just ignore. Mediocre as a premise – middle-aged Melissa McCarthy goes back to college, a la Back to School, Larry Crowne, Billy Madison, Night School etc. – lacks comedy and substance, silly ending, just bland.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Still my favourite of the Cornetto trilogy, although Hot Fuzz is close too (and The World’s End is not too far behind them). Watching Shaun of the Dead is one of the easiest ways to guarantee I’ll be happy for 90 minutes.
Kitbull (2019) – The third Pixar Spark Short, and by far the best. A stray kitten and a mistreated pitbull find themselves sharing an alley in a short film that will kick and beat at your heart but you’ll still watch it again. A softer animation style also works perfectly.
Sherlock Gnomes (2018) – Disappointing sequel to what was an oddly entertaining Shakespeare adaptation – with garden gnomes. This frustratingly casts Johnny Depp as Sherlock – where is the stunt casting from the first film, in which Jason Statham is Tybalt? – and sends the gnomes off on a convoluted and messy goose chase after the most obvious of culprits ever seen. Yes, it’s supposed to be for kids, but that doesn’t mean it should be this crap. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a good beleaguered Watson though.
Ocean’s Eight (2018) – Not as mediocre as I remembered, although I still want it to be better. Lacks Soderbergh’s directorial flourishes.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) – A decent trilogy-capper that doesn’t quite meet the highs of the previous two entries, but still doesn’t disappoint. Toothless’ attempted courting of the Light Fury is entertaining, and the new villain, F. Murray Abraham’s Grimmel, is very sinister, plus I loved his scorpion dragons – again it’s the creature design I’m most intrigued by.
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) – A slasher set in the world of modern art, artists, agents and critics could be good, but this isn’t. Opting for a never-explained supernatural leaning and making the basest of observations – a pile of rubbish is mistaken for an art installation, as is a dead body – this wastes a great cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Tom Sturridge, Zawe Ashton, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen & Natalia Dyer) and provides only a few memorable deaths, all of which are in the trailer.
Wall-E (2008) – I love it so much.
Isn’t It Romantic (2019) – I’m not a Rebel Wilson fan, but this looked promising, with a send-up of standard rom-com tropes, but it doesn’t go far enough and bottles it with a lacklustre ending.
Movies, Films & Flix podcast – Encino Man
Lambcast #465 Tombstone MOTM
Lambcast #466 James Bond Franchise Part 1
Lambcast #467 2019 Oscar Predictions
Lambcast #468 How To Train Your Dragon Trilogy
We’re already most of the way through March, but check back in a week or so to see how this month went for me.