February and March round-up

I missed the February post, shoot me, I was on holiday.

So, I’ve decided to do a combined round-up for the months of February and March, and I promise I’ll try to do better in future.

If you don’t know what this is or how it works, it’s simple. I list all the films I saw, what they were about (vaguely) and what I thought of them.

Enjoy:

28. Unbreakable (2000): In which a man survives a devastating accident and discovers he has a power. Superheroes are cool and so is this movie.

29. Source Code (2011): In which Jake Gyllenhaal relives the same few minutes over and over but not in a Groundhog Day way. I like most of this film, it’s a surprising take on its genre… and definitely not a time travel movie.

30. The Lego Batman Movie (2017): In which Will Arnett is the best batman. This is not my favourite Batman film or my favourite Lego film, but it’s funny enough and referential enough to be entertaining.

31. Lion (2016): In which an Indian man (adopted by Australians) searches for his birth family. This is a wonderful film, a moving retelling of a true story. Dev Patel is engaging, but it’s the young Sunny Pawar who deserves all the praise.

32. Manchester by the Sea (2016): In which a man bonds quietly with his nephew in the face of incredible loss. This film is not as immediately emotive as I have expected, but it lingers. The performances of its central cast, Casey Affleck in particular, are incredible and help to fully realise Kenneth Lonergan’s [adept, well-crafted] script.

33. The Wrestler (2008): In which ageing wrestler Randy negotiates the reality of ill-health, fading celebrity and imperfect relationships. This makes for some visceral viewing in terms of his physical activities in various rings, and his uncomfortable interactions with his family and friends.

34. Limitless (2011): In which a powerful drug actually somehow works despite being based on an obviously faulty premise. Stylish fun.

35. Art and Craft (2014): In which a man paints excellent replicas of famous works and donates them to art museums. This is a peculiar documentary, mostly because it has the most peculiar subject in Mark Landis who is not wholly unlikable despite his nefarious behaviours. It’s a portrait of a sad, lonely but hugely talented man, who I am surprised to have never stumbled across before.

36. Girlfriend’s Day (2017): In which a lonely greeting card writer writes a greeting card. It’s much better than I just made it sound. It has a bleak-yet-comedic tone and relies on the wonderful notion that greetings card writing is a cutthroat industry (which it may be, but I find it hard to imagine).

37. Operator (2016): In which an anxious man takes comfort in his wife’s voice on the automated healthcare helpline. This reminds me of how I imagine ‘Her’ to be. I already have love for Mae Whitman, and she shines in this quirky low-SF relationship drama.

38*. Resident Evil (2002): In which Alice and crew fight zombies under a mansion. It’s pretty awesome.

39. Arrival (2016): In which a linguist helps earth communicate with its alien invaders. Amy Adams is, unsurprisingly, great in Arrival. A quiet, melancholy film about communication and the passing of time that looks and sounds incredible.

40. Passengers (2016): In which an emigrating mechanic is left alone on a 90-year trip through space. The cast shouldn’t be a more charming group of people, and while the actions of the characters are not wholly moral, they are definitely believable… as far as human mass-migration to mars can be believable.

41. Moonlight (2016): In which an African- American boy grows up struggling with his sexuality, bullies and troubled home-life in Liberty City. Gorgeous, slow-burning, expertly paced and important.

This was a really close call.

Film of the Month (Feb): Moonlight.


March has been a slow film month, what with all the ‘being in Australia’ and ‘spending time outside’, but never fear, I will (probably, fingers crossed) get back into the swing.

42. Fences (2016): In which Denzel Washington is a harsh parent and Viola Davis gives me chills. Definitely a play, the straightforward direction is excusable because of the calibre of performances. Viola Davis is a goddess.

43. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017): In which a woman is robbed and tries to get her stuff back. Quality black comedy, with a relatable protagonist in Ruth and lovable side-kick in the kinda weird Tony.

44. A Street Cat Named Bob (2016): In which a homeless young man befriends a cat and (mostly) good things happen. It feels like a really good TV movie. I really want to like it more than I do.

45. Killer’s Kiss (1955): In which a boxer recounts the events of the last couple of days. It involved a lady and some violence.

46. Night of the Hunter (1955): In which a fanatical con man tries to get stolen money from some children. It doesn’t quite go as planned, of course. This is a classic and I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to get to it.

47. The Magnificent Seven (1960): In which seven cowboys save a town from bandits. It’s a solid, surprisingly affecting, cowboy film, and undoubtedly influential (but not as much as the Kurosawa original mayhaps).

48. All About Eve (1950): In which a broadway star takes a young aspiring actress under her wing. Bette Davis is amazing in what is a triumph of storytelling. It earned its awards.

49. Waitress (2007): In which a small-town waitress finds out she’s pregnant and makes plans to leave her controlling husband. As sweet as pie, but a really nice, slightly tart pie (it’s not all sunshine and rainbows). Nathan Fillion is always a plus.

50. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): In which an ex-member of an ex-duo tries to make it as a solo act, also there’s a cat. On its face, this film doesn’t feel very ‘Coen Brothers’, but it gets there. If you aren’t into folky stuff, you might struggle. I like folky stuff though, so we’re all good. Bonus points for the whole road trip.

51. Synecdoche, New York (2008): In which an ill man tries to recreate reality. That description doesn’t come close. This seems like it would be divisive, but it is definitely Kaufman. In the hands of a lesser lead (or really anyone who isn’t the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman) this would not be the film it is, which is so difficult to describe without ruining, so watch it and decide for yourself.

52. Keanu (2016): In which two suburbanites infiltrate a gang in order to retrieve the most adorable kitten in existence. Key and Peele are funny and sweet and relatable and did I say funny?

53. Loving (2016): In which a legally married interracial couple are arrested for being together in Virginia. This is angering, sad, hopeful and joyous in turns. It’s upsetting to consider this is a real thing that happened in the 1960s.

54*. Ghosts Before Breakfast [short] (1928): In which hats fly and men disappear behind lamp posts.This is difficult to judge alone, did I enjoy it? Kinda, was it interesting? Yes, very. Bonus points for being banned by the Nazis.

55. Shutter Island (2010): In which a US Marshal investigates a missing woman on an isolated island that houses the criminally insane. I had problems with this at first, lots of things just didn’t do it for me. It’s still not Scorsese’s best work, but I’ll concede that it’s pretty good and surprisingly thoughtful.

56. Cock and Bull or Zhui Xiong Zhe Ye (2016): In which a man has two days to prove himself innocent of murder. Told in three parts from three perspectives each one filling in the gaps left by the previous character. It’s well done and definitely entertaining. I particularly like part three.

Film of the Month: All About Eve.  

(*) Indicates a film I rewatched this month. These films, however good they may be, will never be considered for my ‘Favourite of the Month’.

*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.*

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