October and November round-up

It seems as though I start all of these round-ups with some excuse or another–bad form, I know. This one is even later than usual, mostly because almost all of November was spent writing a novel as part of National Novel Writing Month, which took up an unreasonable amount of my life; it was worth it though because I did it.  I may well write a short post about that in the new year when I start the edit.

Also, for transparency’s sake, as I no longer apply the IMDB system that I began with, I will be removing that from the older posts that still employ it.

Enough dilly-dallying, let’s get to it.

October:

133. There Will Be Blood (2007): In which an oil man strikes oil and drinks milkshake. Its obviously much more than my description makes it out to be, and I would go so far as to consider it a modern classic: gripping, with powerhouse performances and spot-on direction from the ever amazing Paul Thomas Anderson.

134. Joe (2013): In which a gruff ex-con meets a hard-working teen and finds it in him to help the kid out. It’s a lot of things, but cheerful is certainly not one of them, although I do love to see Nic Cage giving a more restrained performance (who am I kidding, I love Nic Cage giving any kind of performance). Joe is a surprisingly low-key film, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of shocks. 

135. Blade Runner 2049 (2017): In which a replicant blade runner’s investigation leads him to track down the original Blade Runner‘s Deckard. It’s astounding. Respectful to the original, while bringing something new. Villeneuve is going from strength to strength with another legitimately beautiful film (much thanks to the one and only Roger Deakins–who is hands down my favourite cinematographer, I could gush for paragraphs about why, but I won’t). This is arguably an unnecessary sequel, but I’m glad that it exists.

136. Blade Runner: Blackout 2022 [short] (2017): In which there is a blackout, and it is a huge deal.  Gorgeous animation from Shinichirô Watanabe that explains a key moment in Blade Runner lore.

137. Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn [short] (2017): In which a man has a meeting to demonstrate his ‘Nexus’ technology to the police department. Neat and disturbing introduction to a 4049 character, all set in one room (and I am partial to single-location stories).

138. 2048: Nowhere to Run [short] (2017): In which a replicant on the run acts to protect a kid. The direct precursor to the feature Blade Runner 2049 that introduces and expands upon Dave Bautista’s character and the environment he inhabits. 

139. Loom [short] (2012): In which an employee at a meat growing facility is growing something at home. Well made and well cast. All in all an interesting, weird low-key science fiction, but it doesn’t explain itself as well as it could (or maybe I was too tired to fully appreciate it). 

140. The Dark Tower (2017): In which Roland (a Gunslinger) strives to save the world (or worlds?), from Walter (The Man in Black) with the help of a kid from NYC. It’s clearly competently made and there are some nice setpieces. But, I didn’t read the Stephen King Magnum Opus on which this film is based, and as such found a lot of things pretty confusing and messy, which I assume is due to condensing an eight-book series into an hour and a half. My partner, who has read and loves said series,  said it was inaccurate and overly simplistic. So, a disappointment for book fans and non-fans alike.  

141. Gerald’s Game  (2017): In which a woman finds herself ties to the bed in a holiday cabin after her husband has a heart attack during their romantic get-away.  It has some made-for-TV vibes, but it is effective, often upsetting and genuinely quite disturbing Stephen King adaption. I was pleasantly surprised.  

142. Prayer of the Rollerboys* (1990): In which a young rollerblader in dystopian LA tries to save his little brother by working with the police to infiltrate The Rollerboys: a racist gang of drug-dealing eugenicists who fight for control of the city. I adore this movie both because of and in spite of its numerous flaws. It’s not a good film, but it’s excellent viewing.

143. Now You See Me (2013): In which a disparate group of magicians are summoned by a mysterious benefactor to rob some banks, and are pursued by Interpol and the FBI. Silly and so much fun. There is a sequel, and I’d like to watch it. 

144. Mom and Me (2015): In which a collection of ‘tough guys’ talk about their relationship with their mothers. Heartwarming and relatable. Laugh a little, cry a little and then call your mother.   

145. My Scientology Movie (2015): In which Louis Theroux investigates the Church of Scientology. This is an insular church, and they don’t want scrutiny to say the least. I don’t know much about them, but their lack of cooperation and treatment of the crew and their ex-members is suspicious. It’s damning but ultimately inconclusive. Theroux is unshakably calm and persistent as always: a suitable presenter for a topic such as this.   

146. Dial M For Murder (1954): In which a man plots to murder his wife. Ingenius single-location mystery. I love it.   

147. Ashby (2015):  In which a high school kid befriends his mysterious old neighbour.  Good cast (mostly), and I’m a sucker for a quirky comedy, so I’m willing to forgive its weird b-story and general mediocrity.  

148. The Daughter (2015): In which an American man returns to his family home in Australia for his father’s wedding. Decent family melodrama, compelling but occasionally frustrating.

149. 7 Años (2016): In which four business partners hire a mediator to help them decide which of them will go to prison for seven years for a crime they all committed. Tense and well-thought out. Good premise, well executed.

150. Dave [short] (2016): In which a detective is called to investigate a murder. Unexpected. I hope it leads to bigger things, but I’ll say no more about it. 

Film of the Month: Blade Runner 2049



November:

151. V for Vendetta* (2005): In which a masked freedom fighter (known only as ‘V’) plots to overthrow the tyrannical British government with the help of a young woman (aptly named Evey). Still a great film and an annual bonfire night viewing staple.

152. Okja (2017): In which a young girl helps raise and bonds with a genetically modified ‘super-pig’ named Okja, then fights to save her animal friend from the multi-national corporation that seeks to take her away. One of the best Netflix originals and a standout film in its own right, Joon-ho Bong has a clear perspective and Okja follows nicely from Snowpiercer in this regard. It not a kid’s film (despite its fluffy description and adorable central characters), it’s funny and colourful and then descends into a horrifying and heart-wrenching comment on the meat industry.

153. Thor: Ragnarok (2017): In which Thor is stranded on a trash planet and then has to defend Asgard from the wrath of Hela, a powerful goddess. Quite possibly the funniest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as I would expect from the ever-talented Taika Waititi, and his cast really deliver. It’s been nice to see Thor (and Loki) develop through the series. However, Ragnarok seems split, the trash planet storyline is fun and colourful and genuinely refreshing, but the Asgard parts suffer from an uninteresting villain and underdeveloped and underutilised supporting cast (particularly Valkyrie, who’s backstory is merely touched upon, but was interesting enough to warrant more time). My biggest issue is the mistreatment of Hulk, or rather Bruce Banner, whose storyline is more serious than the film gives it credit for. Despite the issues I have with it, it’s still Thor’s best film and a worthwhile watch.  

154. Perfect Blue (1997): In which an actress (and former ‘Idol’) finds her sense of reality unravelling as she is stalked by a crazed fan. It’s fantastic: artfully told anime thriller from Satoshi Kon that blurs the line between reality and imagination to disturbing effect. I highly recommend it.

155. What We Did On Our Holiday (2014): In which a London family travel to Scotland for a family birthday party. It’s nice and uplifting, but not altogether believable–although there are some relatable moments. Bonus pins for Billy Connolly who I adore.

156. Justice League (2017): In which Batman and Wonder Woman join forces with Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg to fight a powerful enemy. The Flash is the best bit (as Ezra Miller tends to be). It’s entertaining but messy and uneven. It suffers from Superman’s presence, which starts off interesting but quickly devolves into another Superman film, rendering the other heroes useless in comparison. It’s still one of the best of DC’s post-Nolan film universe (second to Wonder Woman).

157. The Death of Stalin (2017): In which Stalin dies. Armando Iannucci has again made a hilarious, satirical triumph. It has a stellar cast, featuring some of comedy’s best older gentlemen; an absurd but brilliantly played premise; and a tight script. A surprising gem of a film.

Film of the Month: Perfect Blue

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

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