How’d it go? – August 2021

I genuinely started writing this in August, and now it’s near the end of December and I’m five months behind! As such this post will just be short reviews of the films I saw in August, with my original post opening left in because I’ve already written it. The next few months – which I’m hoping to write before the end of the year but let’s not get our collective hopes up – will also just be film reviews, and I’ll tidy everything else up in an end-of-year wrap up post like usual. Apologies for the lack of activity here recently, it’s been a busy few months!

August is my birthday month, and saw me turn a frankly unbelievable 34. How I’ve made it this far is truly astonishing. For my birthday my wife and I went to London for the weekend under the ruse of going out for dinner, visiting some markets and having a general weekend away, but really so that we could buy a new sofa. I won’t go into it. Anyway, we had a mostly nice time (it’s easy to forget just how uncomfortably busy and crowded London can be, especially after over a year of mostly not going anywhere with anyone), and whilst in the queue for the Lego shop, in which my wife treated me to an R2D2 that’s currently presiding over the lounge, I spotted British comedian James Acaster a few spots ahead of me in the queue. If you don’t know James Acaster, get thee to Youtube and enjoy the next few days of content you’ll find, I can particularly recommend his cabbage-related escapades, check out his food-related podcast Off Menu and also cast your mind back to my Taskmaster contestant rankings, in which he achieved the silver medal just below Sally Phillips. Needless to say, I’m a fan, but he was clearly with family and so I didn’t bother him. Also I couldn’t foresee that conversation going very well, given that I was standing in the queue for the Lego store on my own 34th birthday, about to have my wife buy me what many believe to be a child’s toy of a robot from a child’s film. He also left the queue before going into the shop, so there was no chance of accidentally brushing past him and a faux “Oh, hey, you’re James Acaster! I love your podcast! Be my best friend etc.” Anyway, now I’ve been in or by the same shop as two contestants from season 7 of Taskmaster, after I spotted Rhod Gilbert in a second hand book shop in Hay-on-Wye. Kerri Godliman, Jessica Knappett and Phil Wang, I’m coming for you to complete the set!
As I’m monumentally behind on these posts there’ll be no updates on anything other than films this month, other than to say I still haven’t finished the Bill Bryson book, I very foolishly decided to fit a half marathon in at the end of July with Bournemouth Parkrun in the middle of it, which brought my shin splints back and put me out of running action once again, from which I’m still in recovery. I’ve been less grumpy this time, tried to eat more fruit, but also discovered (invented?) flights of cheese sandwiches. We had an abundance of cheese in our fridge (don’t ask) and I’ve been having four or five small cheese sandwiches, all different cheeses, some with chutneys, for lunch most days. Turns out I don’t hate all blue cheeses like I used to, and Sainsbury’s do a particularly creamy gorgonzola. You can all guess what that means health-wise, so let’s get into the films, shall we?

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Groundhog Day

Irascible, anti-social weather reporter Phil Connors (Bill Murray) heads to the small town of Punxutawney, Philadelphia with his cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) and new producer Rita (Andi MacDowell) to cover the Groundhog Day festival ceremony, wherein a prominently dentured rodent allegedly predicts the weather. It’s an annual occurrence Phil despises, and one from which he cannot wait to get away, but unfortunately for him he’s stuck there, reliving the same day over and over again, potentially forever more.

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Top 10… Michael Shannon Films

I recently appeared on the As You Watch podcast with Nick of the Cinematic Katzenjammer and Vern of Vern’s Video Vangaurd [sic] and Vern’s Video Vortex (unfortunately their co-host, Joe of Two Dude Review, was unable to make it). The show, which was a ton of fun, was dedicated to one of my favourite actors working today, Michael Shannon. We each gave our top 3 Michael Shannon performances, but I felt that didn’t scratch my Shannon itch, so I’ve compiled my list of his films instead. This is a completely different list to that of the podcast (though there’s some crossover) so be sure to check the podcast out on the link above.
00 Man of Steel
Why is Shannon one of my favourite actors? Well, he’s really great at playing complex characters – usually ones that are either potentially insane or devoted and driven by some moral compass that leads to powerful, passionate performances from even his smallest roles. He improves anything he’s involved with – even disappointing efforts like Man of Steel, and is always an interesting presence on screen. Now remember, this is a list of his best films, not necessarily his best roles, he just happens to be in them somewhere… Continue reading

Top 10… Breakfast Scenes

As I mentioned the other day, I recently started writing for French Toast Sunday, so to celebrate here’s a top 10 list of my favourite movie scenes involving breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, and as such it’s been widely represented within film. Here’s my run-down of the top scenes that take place at breakfast-time:

Honourable Mention: Falling Down
breakfast1I’m not a massive fan of Joel Schumacher’s love letter to the working class, but I will admit that it’s buzz-cut head and shoulders above the rest of Schumacher’s work. Michael Douglas plays D-Fens, a seemingly normal engineer who, during one normal morning commute, suddenly snaps and goes on a rampage across Los Angeles, taking to justice a myriad of issues that plague the existence of him and the white collar guys he works with. I’m fine with this, as the points he makes are ones I’ve thought myself, but my issue comes at the end [SPOILER ALERT] when he is caught by Officer Prendergast (Robert Duvall), and it is revealed that D-Fens is actually a crazy person, thereby implying that I, having agreed with him thus far, am also crazy. Anyway, the breakfast scene. One of the first stops of his journey sees D-Fens attempting to acquire some sustenance to fuel his quest, and he opts to do so at fast food restaurant Whammy Burger, and orders his breakfast, but unfortunately they’ve just switched to the lunch menu three and a half minute ago, so he’s out of luck. This displeases Fens, so he pulls a gun, accidentally fires it into the ceiling, and couldn’t you know it suddenly the staff become a little more co-operative. However, the burger he receives looks nothing like the picture on the menu. This kind of thing has always irked me – thought I try to eat less fast food these days – but technically Fens doesn’t actually have any breakfast, hence why this is only an honourable mention. I could have gone with the french toast scene in Road Trip (which makes me nauseous just thinking about it), or the never-ending sea of grease that is Pleasantville’s breakfast scene, or when Jack Nicholson tells a waitress to hold the chicken between her knees in Five Easy Pieces, but I opted for Falling Down, because Douglas gives such a great performance. Continue reading

Top 5… Bill Murray Films

It’s Bill Murray’s birthday! The guy is a prime contender for a future Film-Makers Career Review, but until I see all of his work, here’s my favourite of his films. Now, in my looking back at his career I noticed Murray has tended towards two kinds of roles, leads/major parts, or brief cameos, so I’ve made two lists to celebrate this fact:

5a. Caddyshack
I’m fairly sure the main reason this film is remembered as a comedy classic – by me at least – is because of Murray’s breakthrough role as the deranged gopher-hunting groundskeeper Carl Spackler. His scene in his shed, talking to the little clay models of squirrels and rabbits he intends to use to destroy the golf course terrorising rodent is just wonderful, even if the gopher himself looks like one of the worst puppets ever put on screen.

5b. Get Smart
OK, so the film is pretty terrible, but Murray’s cameo as the tree-dwelling lonely sad sack Agent 13 in this lacklustre spy reboot is one of the few watchable moments, and came as such a surprise to me when I watched the film that it almost made the experience worthwhile. Almost.

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