It’s June! It’s the halfway point of the calendar year! What a good time to assess a year-long task, eh?
I can now unveil a major new undertaking (for me): the complete 100 Films review database, sorted by director.
Creating this page involved taking nearly 800 reviews from their title-sorted 28 categories on the existing list, looking up the director for each film, then re-sorting them into a new list that eventually came to include 537 categories (that being one per represented director, of course). It’s taken over four months of work (on and off), but it’s finally here — and is perfectly easy to update going forward, thank goodness.
I have no idea if this is of use to anyone. Probably not. But it’s a slightly interesting, different way of looking at my review archive. For instance, compiling it threw up some odd things, such as James Hill. Who, you may ask? Indeed it’s no surprise I hadn’t noticed I’d watched two films directed by him. More interesting was what they were: lovely family animal movie Born Free, and Hammer-esque Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper thriller A Study in Terror! He also directed Lunch Hour, part of the BFI Flipside strand, so he may one day acquire a third entry. That’s more than some incredibly well-known directors have.
Anyway, if you want to have a peruse and somehow missed the links above and the one in the menu, it’s here.
Statistically speaking, my selection for WDYMYHS threw up a few interesting ratios. For instance, exactly half the films hail from the 1950s; there are 9 in black & white vs. 3 in colour; and also 9 in English vs. 3 in foreign languages (French, Japanese, Swedish); and 5 on DVD vs. 7 on Blu-ray.
Having so far watched a third of the films, it’s got to the point where I can see what needs to be done to keep these numbers roughly in proportion. So, if I wanted to do such a thing, I came to the conclusion that I needed to watch a 1950s black & white English-language film on Blu-ray. That left two options: The Night of the Hunter or Touch of Evil. And this month I watched…
Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil.
No particular reason for choosing one over the other, although during the time I was pondering this the BFI announced their exciting Gothic season, the trailer for which included a clip from Night of the Hunter, which led to the thought that I might put it off until such a time as it coincides with whatever the BFI are up to. But we’ll see.
#55 The Bourne Legacy (2012)
#56 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
#57 The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
#58 Touch of Evil: Reconstructed Version (1958/1998)
I talked last month about the shape of this year’s viewing emulating most previous years, and that continues in June, a month which has never seen my viewing reach double figures. Nonetheless, this year’s four is the poorest on record (behind last year’s five).
More interesting, however, is what it might tell us about the year as a whole. It’s exactly half way, after all, giving enough time to settle down from the exuberance of the year’s first three months and paint a picture of how I’m getting on this year. At 58, I’d call it “not bad”. Clearly I’m well over the halfway mark, and ahead of this point in 2008, 2009 and 2012 to boot… though as I failed to make 100 in two of those years, and only scraped it with a mad dash in the other, such facts aren’t that comforting.
What about June as an indicator of my final tally? It’s not that hot, to be honest, showing just how erratic my viewing can be across the year. It was closest (or I was most consistent) last year, when I reached 51 by June, giving a ‘prediction’ of 102, and I made it to 97. 2010 was similarly close: 64 in June gives 128, and I made 122. But in other years it’s ranged from 18 under (2009) to 34 over (2011), so it tells us nothing. More exciting that way, eh?
With only four films to consider there’s not much more to say (50% from the ’00s and 50% from the ’50s means nothing when it’s out of four, does it), so moving swiftly on:
There have been innumerable bad sequels, especially in these franchise-driven days of modern Hollywood movies… but which have gone down so badly they’ve actually killed off their series? Not just been the final film, but actively led to the series’ demise. (This was inspired by The Bourne Legacy — although #5 is reportedly in development, if they don’t have a serious rethink then I expect Legacy will wind up a member of this club.)
- Batman & Robin
Obvious, I know, but it really is the archetype. Burton delivered two Bat-films that were critical and commercial successes; Schumacher delivered one that didn’t go down so well but turned a healthy profit… and then this. A critical disaster, a box office flop, the series went down with it. It took others to revive the superhero genre, a seven-year gap, and a ground-up reboot to save the series.
- The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Six years after the TV series ended (was that all?), ’90s favourites Mulder and Scully returned. Hopes for a third film dealing with the series’ cliffhanger-ish ending were dashed by this low-key supernatural fable, released in a glaringly inappropriate summer slot, with none of the aliens casual viewers expected and too many incidental ties to the series. Some still whisper about a third movie, but 2012 was the perfect time and that’s long gone.
- Terminator Salvation
The first three Terminators all recycle the same plot to some degree, but with Salvation they finally pushed forward. Unfortunately bad word of mouth before release plus constant rumours about final-act twists did the film no favours. It was meant to launch a new trilogy, but instead killed the company who held the rights. A fifth film is in development now, but it sounds like it’ll go back to aping the first.
- Blade: Trinity
The first Blade was something of a breakout hit in the late ’90s, leading to a Guillermo del Toro-helmed sequel that helped put him on the mainstream map. This third entry was designed to launch a spin-off movie for its supporting stars, but behind the scenes woes resulted in a messy film that flopped both critically and with audiences. A TV series did follow, but that was reportedly awful too and didn’t last long.
- Saw VI
“But there was a Saw VII,” you cry.
“But there was meant to be at least a Saw VIII,” I reply.
When Saw VI lost its opening weekend to Paranormal Activity, someone guessed a shift in horror-fan tastes and called time on this annual scare saga, leading to it wrapping up in film #7. The Final Chapter, as it was advertised, actually did better at the box office, but by then it was all done.
And one that actually revived a franchise… briefly…
- The Final Destination
This fourth entry in the Death-defying horror franchise was due to be the series’ last — hence the definitive article title. In no small part due to being released in 3D in the immediate run-up to Avatar, the movie was a surprise box office hit, becoming the series’ highest-grossing entry, and New Line did an about-face and greenlit a fifth movie. Unfortunately for them, The Final Destination was utter shit, so the marginally-better Final Destination 5 became the series’ lowest earner. In the US, anyway — worldwide, it actually wound up just a few million dollars short of its predecessor. Nonetheless, instead of having a neatly-monikered send-off, the series seems to have limply disappeared.
There are many more sequels that have killed their franchise, so are there any I should have mentioned? And what about that even trickier question: films that have taken an ailing series and turned it around?
With the halfway point passed (did I mentioned we’re halfway through the year?), it’s full steam ahead into the second half. 100 films don’t just watch themselves, y’know.