January round-up

2017 has begun and this year I have made it my mission to watch as many films as possible—if I can reach 365, I’d be ecstatic.

So, without further ado, here’s all the films I saw in January, what I thought of them, and which one was my favourite.

1. The Equalizer (2014): In which Denzel Washington is a supreme badass who works at a home depot analogue. This is a film of troughs and peaks, but the hardware store showdown is enough alone to boost the overall score.

2. Sing Street (2016): In which awkward Irish teens start an awkward Irish band and are actually super cool. The performances make this film, these are some talented kids.

3. John Wick (2014): In which Keanu Reeves is sad and then mad, but remains consistently cool—also, there’s a puppy. Keanu Reeves is back on form. John Wick is stylish, to say the least, which is what elevates it for me.

4. The Fundamentals of Caring (2016): In which Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts become unlikely friends with a bunch of strangers and Jennifer Ehle’s accent is somewhere between England and Australia. This is an interesting, quirky little film from Netflix and is very much my kind of movie. The lead actors have excellent chemistry.

5. Triple 9 (2016): In which a cast of genuinely fantastic actors are smushed together with an interesting story and somehow make a mediocre film about a bank job gone awry. I love the entire cast, and I love crime films. I’m not 100% what it is that sits wrong with me on this one.

6. This is Where I Leave You (2014): In which a family mourn the loss of their husband/father by failing miserably to sit Shiva, preferring to meddle in each other’s comically messed-up lives. I like a bit of family dysfunction and this a good film to watch after work.

7. Shin Gojira or Godzilla Resurgence (2016): In which a giant monster attacks Tokyo, and the government and adjacent organisations discuss what to do about it. Everything Godzilla should be, not focussing on a specific character (I’m looking at you Godzilla (2014)) but on how the government copes with the impending destruction—it’s a fine take on the well-known franchise and on environmentalist themes.

8. Miss Stevens (2016): In which a passionate but unhappy teacher escorts a group of talented but angsty teens to a theatre thing. Lily Rabe makes this quiet, thoughtful little film. It’s comfy and enjoyable but walks a well-worn path.

9. The Boxtrolls (2014): In which a boy lives with trolls, who live underground and all wear boxes, fight the real monster. Disclaimer: I’m in love with Laika. Every single one of their films that I have seen has charmed me. Boxtrolls is no different, although It doesn’t meet the heights of ParaNorman or Kubo and the Two Strings, it’s a fun film.

10. The Legend of Barney Thompson (2015): In which Robert Carlyle isn’t Sweeny Todd, but cuts hair and kills people, and Emma Thompson isn’t old but plays his mother anyway. This came out of nowhere and is a bit of an odd one, an enjoyable little farce with a few surprises, but nothing extraordinary.

11. Filth (2013): In which a misanthropic detective tries to solve a murder while losing his grip on reality and ability to not be a terrible person. Madness. Creepy, sordid madness with a stellar cast.

12. Under the Skin (2013): In which Scarlett Johansson is in Scotland abducting unsuspecting men and getting lost in the rain. I have no idea what I think of this film really. It’s uncomfortable. For an enjoyment perspective it scores low, but as a film, it scores high.

13. I, Daniel Blake (2016): In which the government screw over decent people who are just trying to get by, and him, Daniel Blake befriends a young family. This film is a damning indictment on the state of our welfare system and it makes for upsetting viewing—the food bank scene sticks in my mind—but the script overstates its case and comes off heavy-handed.

14. La La Land (2016): In which the glamour of Hollywood is upended and reinforced as talented young lovers both make it and don’t make it. This is beautiful and I cannot overstate my love for it. I’m not one for musicals (with a few notable exceptions) but La La Land is something magical.

15. Live By Night (2016): In which a criminal relocates from Boston to Florida to do more criminal stuff and have his revenge on his old boss. Ben Affleck is undeniably skilled, his work on Argo and other Lehane adaption Gone Baby Gone are evidence of that, I think he dropped the ball a bit with this one.

16. Dracula (1931): In which Count Dracula arrives in England and is a bad neighbour. I mean, c’mon, it’s a classic.

17. Frankenstein (1931): In which Victor Frankenstein makes a monster. See, above. I actually prefer Frankenstein however.

18. 45 Years (2015): In which an old man confronts a loss from his past, told primarily from the perspective of his wife on the eve of their 45th anniversary. A film of two subtle and strong performances, it’s not an exciting watch, but it maintains it’s own tension.

19. The DUFF (2015): In which high schooler Mae Whitman is labelled the ‘ugly’ friend (despite being obviously beautiful) and seeks the help of her jock neighbour to become not the ‘ugly’ one. This is above average for its genre, but it’s no Easy A or Mean Girls. A worthwhile, feel-good flick.

20. The Final Girls (2015): In which the daughter of a late slasher film star and her friends get sucked into the film world and have to fight their way to survival. This film is much more affecting and much more visually pleasing than it should be, the concept seems silly, but the execution (so to speak) is much more than it could have been.  Bonus points for the gorgeous climax.

21. The Intervention (2016): In which a bunch of middle-class couples, who are also best friends, host an intervention on one couple and try to get them to split up, while also all having relationship issues. The premise of this is flawed, and while the performances are good and the characters interesting, we never learn enough about them to fully engage. Its good if you like this kind of thing, I admit that I do, and I love Clea DuVall to boot.

22. In A World (2013): In which the woman-child daughter of a famous voice-over artist attempts to break into the male-dominated industry. I’d been meaning to watch this for awhile, and I’m glad I did. It was funny and sweet.

23. Wanderlust (2012): In which Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are broke and move onto a hippie commune/cult and can’t decide if this is a good idea. It’s not a smart movie and it’s not even pretending which I can appreciate. I enjoy Rudd and Aniston. It’s not terrible, but not as good as it could have been.

24. Blue Jay (2016): In which Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass get nostalgic. This is very much in my area of interest. I like talky movies more than the average person seems to. This is a thoughtful, bittersweet and beautifully constructed foray into the lives of strangers.

25. The Nice Guys (2016): In which two PIs (sort of) bungle their way to a resolution, and it’s awesome. This is an excellent example of its genre, in my opinion. A genuinely engaging mystery solved by comically flawed individuals against a classic backdrop of 1970s LA.

26. Split (2016): In which James McAvoy is 23 people in one body, the bad guys are winning. Shyamalan is back on form with a continued disregard for the representation of mental health issues. That’s not to say this is not a good film, on the contrary, it takes a refreshing turn. Without James McAvoy, though, it wouldn’t be nearly as compelling.

27. Hacksaw Ridge (2016): In which Andrew Garfield is real-life army-medic Desmond Doss and is a total hero. In a painfully graphic depiction of war, Doss’s resolute dedication to his faith and determination to avoid killing is unreasonably inspiring.

Film of the Month: La La Land

*I tend to watch films that I think I will like so rarely will there be a negative review. It’s all subjective. Enjoy whatever you want to enjoy.*