My Weeks in Film, 2017 Weeks 1-3

Well this is a good start, isn’t it? I know I’ve let two weeks go by without a weekly post before, but three? THREE? It’s unheard of. Well, it was, but now it’s happened and, given how this year is going, it may well become the norm. The problem was last weekend, when I took on a fairly sizeable craft commission for Aisha’s work. I say sizeable, but that only relates to the amount of work required, not how impressive the finished result was and certainly not in terms of how much I got paid. The job led to far more post-1am bedtimes than I’d intended, and also led to me going to bed with paint in my hair three nights in a row. It’s done now, phew, so it’s back to planning the wedding and not writing reviews. Also, I’ve not had much of an urge to post a weekly piece because I haven’t actually watched all that many films, certainly not any from my lists. In fact there was a period of eleven days where I watched nothing. Not a damn thing. As it goes, in the past three weeks I’ve watched a total of six movies, which might be my lowest tally since I started this blog. And had I not run out of clean shirts yesterday and spent the evening ironing fresh ones, that total would probably be at least one lower. None of this is all that important though. I know what you’re here for, my mini reviews of these films, so here they are:
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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!
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Top 10… Snakes

Last week was spiders, this week we celebrate that other great scary creature – snakes! I know I got some negative feedback from scaring people with the spider pictures – sorry Dylan, you big pansy – and that’s unlikely to change this week, especially because my girlfriend is frankly terrified of snakes, so sorry about that honey, but it is October, after all.promo189333424I’ve got no problem with snakes, but then again I’ve never actually encountered one that isn’t trapped in a perspex box, apart from the one an obnoxious twat was parading round a shopping centre near me recently, deliberately trying to scare people and using the snake as a clear replacement for the lack of any other reason people would have to notice or talk to him. But it would seem they show up an awful lot in films. This is probably because, similarly to spiders, they have completely the wrong number of legs for any normal animal, yet still manage to function effectively. How much fear do you think you’d strike into the heart of small children without any limbs? Not a great deal, probably, but that’s because you’d probably have an awful lot of trouble moving around unaided, whereas snakes get along just fine. It’s impressive, really.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????So, the obvious answer everyone’s shouting is Snakes On A Plane, to which I say yes, it’s a great film, but no, it’s not on the list, because of the same reason I ignored Eight Legged Freaks and Arachnophobia last week – it’s just lousy with snakes. There’s too many for any to stand out, so they all suffer because of it. And as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t quite bring myself to include Monty Python, nor did I allow  Lt. ‘Cobra’ Cobretti on, mainly because I haven’t seen Cobra. And I was tempted to include Mark Wahlberg’s appendage in Boogie Nights, but decided against it at the last minute. There is one questionable not-really-a-snake inclusion, but there’s no way he could be omitted. Anyway, enough preamble, here’s the list: Continue reading

Top 10… Animated Voice Performances

I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions. Regardless of how many things in my life I’d like to change – weight, social life, number of films I watch – the whole resolution concept is one I’ve just never comfortably got behind. However, at the start of this year I made a small mental note that I’d like to podcast a bit more, with the specific aim of appearing on one podcast in particular – the Milfcast, the official podcast of manilovefilms.com. Hosted by Kai and Heather, it’s easily one of the most entertaining podcasts available, and covers such diverse subjects as the Alien franchise (particularly Aliens) and defecating in cereal (particularly Cheerios). A few months ago I was fortunate enough to appear on a Lambcast episode with Kai, during which I’d intended to ask him how one would become eligible to guest on his great show, only for him to invite me on before I had a chance. As such, you can hear Kai, Heather and myself discussing all manner of film-related things on the latest episode of the Milfcast, which can be found here.

On the episode, the general discussion topic, as selected by myself, was our favourite voice performances of animated characters. I mention on the show that this was perhaps the hardest list I’d ever compiled, mainly because it could only consist of three entries. However, with so many possible entrants available I just had to expand it, so here’s my top 10. Oh, and I limited myself to just one selection per film, if you were wondering.

Honourable Mention: Mr. DNA (Greg Burson), Jurassic Park    Mr. DNAIf there is any possible way that I can crowbar Jurassic Park into a Top 10 list, you can rest assured that life will find a way. Although Mr. DNA doesn’t have much screentime in Jurassic Park, he has one of the most important roles in the film – delivering the most perfectly executed exposition sequence in movie history, and he sounds exactly like the kind of second rate educational short films you’d be forced to sit through at school.
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Top 10 Films Adapted From Books (That I’ve Read)

This week I saw The Great Gatsby, something I’ve deeply regretted ever since. You can expect a less-than-complimentary review in the bear future, brace yourselves. I was thoroughly disappointed with the film, mostly because I’d read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel last year in preparation for the film, and really rather enjoyed it. This got me thinking about the best films adapted from books. However, the potential candidates for such a list would include roughly half of all films ever made, if not more, so I slimmed it down somewhat in the only manner I knew how, by making it about myself. Therefore, this is a list of my favourite films adapted from books that I’ve actually read, a list of books nowhere near long enough in my opinion, but with so many films to watch how can I hope to find the time to read more?

Anyway, the list is comprised of books I read before the films came out, some I was drawn to by the film, and others I read upon finding out the film was to be released, as was the case with Gatsby.

Honourable MentionJurassicParkAs much as I’d love Jurassic Park to be on this list, at present I’m only halfway through Michael Crichton’s so far excellent novel, so alas the best I can do is say the first half of Jurassic Park is my Honourable Mention. In terms of complete books, there are some adaptations that have done a stellar job in maintaining the themes and style of their source material – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is impenetrable and muddy, The Time Traveller’s Wife is bland and queasy, Touching The Void is gripping yet informative – whereas others have differed greatly from where they began – There Will Be Blood covers only a fraction of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!. I think I’ll settle upon Fight Club as my official honourable mention, and it remains the book I’ve read the fastest – in one sitting at that – and quite possibly in the same amount of time as it would have taken to watch the film. It is a rather slim book, you see, but well worth a read if you’re even a passing appreciator of the film.
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Top 5… Dinosaur Movies

Dinosaurs! It’s no surprise to anyone that I love me some prehistoric beasties. I can probably trace my love of dinosaurs back to the child I’ve never really stopped being, but there’s something about the fact that these giant, terrifying creatures once ruled the very land we walk upon that captures my imagination. Sadly, dinosaurs have become somewhat scarce out in the real world in recent millenia, so the best place to see them at their finest is in the movies. This list is probably one of my least surprising, especially the top 2, as they’re films I rarely go a day without mentioning, but the list was an inevitable one, and I was at a loss for what else to do this week, so here it is:
 
5. Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
I think the Ice Age movies have been cruelly ignored, deemed ‘lesser animation,’ and basically dismissed by many people who haven’t seen them. Whilst they’re certainly nowhere near as good as most of Pixar’s output (but then, what is?), the Ice Ages are actually worth your time. Part three, The Dawn of the Dinosaurs, though not technically historically accurate, is probably my favourite of the bunch (I’ve not seen part four, Continental Drift, yet), and whilst including dinosaurs probably didn’t hurt it’s cause, the main reason I like it most is Simon Pegg’s deranged one-eyed ferret Buck. I’d also like to use this opportunity to complain about Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. At one point, the herd (comprised of Ray Romano’s Manny the mammoth, John Leguizamo’s Sid the sloth, Denis Leary’s Diego the sabre-tooth tiger, Josh Peck and Seann William Scott’s possums Eddie and Crash and Queen Latifah’s Ellie the mammoth-who-thinks-she’s-a-possum) encounters an expanse littered with erupting geysers. Manny wants to cross, but Diego warns him that “It’s a minefield out there!” The one part of this film’s suspension of disbelief – of which quite a lot is required – that I just cannot overcome is how exactly does Diego know what a minefield is? Small gripe, I know, but it never stops annoying me whenever the film is on TV.
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Top 5… Rainy Scenes

I’m on holiday in Wales at the moment, and whilst I’d like to do my Top 5 Welsh movies or Movies Set In Wales, I’m afraid I couldn’t come up with very many for either category. Instead I thought I’d try and be funny and do my Top 5 Movie Whales, but I’ve only seen four films with whales in (4. Pinocchio, 3. Finding Nemo, 2. Free Willy, 1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) and I haven’t seen any others (including Moby Dick, Whale Rider, Big Miracle and Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home). So instead I’ve decided to focus on Wales’ biggest export, rain, and I’m celebrating those scenes made all the better because of a downpour. I’ve chosen not to include any John Cusack films on the list purely because he gets caught in the rain in every damn one of them, so if I ever get stuck for a list in the future, Top 5 John Cusack In The Rain Scenes may well crop up.
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