My Week in Movies, 2017 Week 28-29

Given my most anticipated TV show of the year, Game Of Thrones, returned this past week, it seems an opportune moment to talk about television, and what I’ve been watching recently, or rather, what I’ve been trying to not spoil for myself. As you should probably know by now, I live in the UK, and we in this country do not receive media at the same time as other countries. I know we have it better than some and worse than others, it’s a worldwide thing. Anyway, two shows that we got significantly later than the US are Fargo and The Handmaid’s Tale. Fargo is in series 3, and Handmaid is a new show, but they have both been finished in the states for over a month at this point, yet we are only on episode eight for them both. The problem here is that most episodes for these shows end on a cliffhanger, leaving me dying to know what happens next, and the information I crave is a mere Wiki-click away, or I could just listen to the podcast episodes covering them that I already have downloaded (Aw Jeez and Bald Move for Fargo, All Flesh for The Handmaid’s Tale). It’s taken every inch of my almost non-existent will-power to not plough through every episode of those shows and just find out what happens and who survives. It’s unbearable. Then again it goes both ways, as we in the UK saw series 3 of Broadchurch early in the year (granted I’ve only recently caught uup on all three series, the first and third of which are fantastic, and the second is merely OK, falling into the trap of trying something different but not having enough to do to drag out to a full series length but trying anyway). I’m also dipping a toe into American Gods and toying with the notion of catching up with Legion and Preacher, we’ll see how my time goes.

So that’s TV, but what movies have I seen recently?
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Top 10… Movies With All-Male Casts

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I’m off on a stag do this weekend – paint-balling, followed by drinking, in case you were wondering, although personally I think those should be the other way around – and in fact this is the first stag do I’ve ever been on, so I’m a little apprehensive as to what’s going to go down amidst a group of guys I know next to nothing about, seeing as the only one I really know is the groom. This concern comes from all the bachelor parties I’ve seen in films, and how none of them have ever really worked out all that well. The obvious list I jumped to was top 10 bachelor parties in films, but alas I couldn’t think of 10 (in descending order: The Hangover 2, American Pie: The Wedding, The Hangover, Bachelor Party, Very Bad Things, Clerks 2, Sideways), so I switched it out for something similar, celebrating the films that, just like the traditional stag do, don’t allow women in them. I had to take a few liberties here – you’ll see what I mean – but I think they’re acceptable. In fact, this list contains several of my all-time favourite films, two of which I have posters of in my lounge, which may say something about my opinions of women in cinema… Oh, and before you check, no, there isn’t any gay porn on here.
Honourable Mention: Outpost
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Zombies! Nazi zombies! Ridiculous Nazi zombies! The premise for this film is, well, kinda dumb – a rich dude hires a group of mercenaries to take him to an underground bunker, where they discover the Nazis performed some tests in WW2 to create an unkillable soldier, and wouldn’t you know it, whilst they’re their they manage to resurrect them – and the film itself plays out little better. The only ‘names’ amongst the cast are Michael Smiley (Spaced, Kill List) and Ray Stevenson (Thor, Punisher: War Zone) and the director, Steve Barker, has made nothing else of note save a crap-looking sequel, but despite the unlikable characters (particularly Robert Blake’s greasy Prior) and evidently low budget, this still has its moments. Can’t help thinking Nazi zombies have a great deal more to offer than this though. I really wanted Con Air to take this position, or Armageddon, but they have fairly prominent female roles, dammit. Continue reading

Saving Private Ryan

There is a drinking game, the most disrespectful and coma-inducing that I’ve ever come across, where when watching Saving Private Ryan the players all drink a shot every time someone on screen dies. If one were to play this game, which I cannot advise for medical, moral and cinematic reasons, then I would recommend having 50-100 shots per player lined up ready and waiting for the opening 25 minutes of the film, as the much celebrated D-Day landing is a veritable cornucopia of fatalities, with soldiers coming a cropper as soon as the rear doors of the landing ships open, drowning in the water struggling with heavy packs, being carried to safety and every other way available.

This opening scene is a landmark in war movie history, recreating the sense of utter confusion and imminent death present at that time. With a shaking camera, dialogue lost to explosions and gunfire, men wandering around after lost limbs and a bloody tide lapping at fallen soldiers and shot fish alike, it’s almost a relief once the landing has finished and they can get on with the plot, as Tom Hank’s captain is ordered to find Private James Francis Ryan, last survivor of four brothers and location unknown after parachuting somewhere in France. With a cast positively brimming with stars and up-and-comers – Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Davies, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Adam Goldberg, Paul Giamatti, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Ted Danson, Bryan Cranston, Dennis Farina – no character is left without some characterisation, or providing an insight into a soldiers life, be it collecting dirt from every country they fight in, writing a novel about their experiences or making sure every German soldier they come across knows they have been bested by a Jew.
There are those that claim this is a long, boring film about walking, bookended by two of the greatest battle scenes in cinematic history, yet without the middle, where we truly understand the brotherly bond felt by soldiers fighting and dying together, would the closing battle – a much more personal, strategic affair than the opener, have such an impact? For my money this is Spielberg’s most cinematic film, showcasing his ability to show ordinary people in extraordinary situations, yet without losing the human touch.
Choose film 9/10