This is a short entry this month. I watched far too much TV (I’m looking at you 13 Reasons Why) and far too few films; I also went to some more weddings so I guess love conquers… film-watching time or something? I don’t know, I’m tired.
Anyway. Here’s what I watched, what it’s about and, what I thought of it in the month of April.
57. Ghost in the Shell (1995): In which a badass cyborg cop called Major hunts down The Puppet Master–a criminal who hacks and exploits cyborgs to commit crimes. This is a seminal and truly fantastic film and a treatise on what makes us human, with bonus cool robots and stuff–if you’re into that kind of thing.
58. Ghost in the Shell (2017): In which Major… see above, kind of, but really not at all. This remake/prequal/I’m not sure LOOKS incredible, has an incredible cast (huge bonus points for Takeshi Kitano literally existing) and borrows elements from the original; yet it lacks a lot of the nuance and philosophy if the original–I will not be getting into the racism debate, here is not the place for that; suffice to say, I can understand the accusations. This is a fun movie and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it in the moment.
59. Life (2017): In which a bunch of scientists discover new life on the International Space Station; it does not go to plan. Okay so, I went into this movie knowing nothing beyond what’s on the poster and in this instance that is definitely the way to go. I was genuinely surprised by it and that is a good feeling. While the characters exist in a vacuum, with some vague hints at some of their lives before space, I only found that mildly frustrating (and only after I’d left the theatre). I have issues with the ending, but it’s not unbefitting. Life isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s worth its runtime.
60. The Invitation (2015): In which a grieving man takes his new partner to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her new husband. I liked this more than everyone else seems to. It’s slow and subdued and a little bit weird, but ultimately it’s an engrossing, disquietening and suspenseful meditation on incomparable loss, held together by a moving performance from Logan Marshall-Green. It’s got its problems, of course, but I am eager to forgive.
61. Get Out (2017): In which a young, black man visits his new, white girlfriend’s parents at their estate, things get creepy. I’ll start by saying that Jordan Peele knows what he’s doing. Get Out is in turns funny and awkward and chilling. However, the comic relief detracts (and distracts) so heavily from the tension that the film ends up in sections–some people like that kind of breathing room, but I’m not among them. The film’s satirical edge is clear and pertinent; its concept is macabre and fresh, but I think I may have expected more from it than it could deliver.
62. *The Lottery [Short] (1969): In which a town hold their annual lottery. [Director]Yust and [Writer] Jackson manage to cram an inordinate amount of unease into a mere 18 minutes. It’s a suspenseful, ever-relevant indictment of traditionalism and collective denial.
63. Art of Conflict (2012): In which Vince Vaughn helps explain the stories and histories behind the murals in Northern Ireland. Suitably educational and frankly heartbreaking. Its interviews with mural artists from both sides of the conflict keep a feeling of impartiality and hopeful unity. I learned some things and isn’t that the point?
64. 21 Grams (2003): In which three people’s lived become irrevocably entwined after a tragic accident. Excellent. A script only made better by its cast–especially Naomi Watts, who broke my heart into tiny little pieces. It is not an easy watch.
65. Swiss Army Man (2016): In which Paul Dano befriends Daniel Radcliffe’s decomposing body. This film is two things: An extended fart joke and a surprisingly honest exploration of loneliness and the human condition. Dano has a warmth to him that carries what could have so easily been a complete mess of a film. I went in unsure; I came out sold.
66. Train to Busan (2016): In which a train (bound for Busan would you believe) is besieged by the undead. This is one of the best horror films of recent years. Its power is the result of the perfect balance of relatable, realistic protagonists (with mostly redemptive arcs); a believable outbreak narrative and; a unique, enclosed setting. That little girl (Soo-an Kim) is far cuter than is fair for a film like this.
This was the most difficult call yet.
My film of the month: Swiss Army Man
(*) 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.*