Shrek Forever After (2010)

2018 #132
Mike Mitchell | 93 mins | Blu-ray | 2.35:1 | USA / English | U / PG

Shrek Forever After

Shrek the Third suggested that DreamWorks’ golden-goose animated franchise was running out of fairytales to subvert, so this fourth — and final (for the time being) — movie turns its attention on the series itself.

Shrek is becoming disgruntled with life as a family man, so signs a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to have just one day as a “real ogre” again — but Rumpelstiltskin is a tricksy so-and-so, using the small print to land Shrek in an alternate timeline where he was never born. If Shrek can’t sort it out by midnight, he’ll be erased forever and the new timeline will stick. The filmmakers take this storyline as an opportunity to give us a look at how characters might’ve turned out in a Shrek-less world: Fiona is a warrior leading an ogre resistance, disillusioned by life after no prince came to rescue her; Puss in Boots is a fat, pampered kitty; and Donkey is working as a cart-donkey… but is otherwise pretty much the same. I guess some personalities never change.

Sundry of the series’ many supporting characters get the same treatment, and it’s in this upending of familiarity that Forever After finds its greatest entertainment value. The result therefore favours dedicated viewers, while newcomers would be advised to seek out the franchise’s first two instalments. While this conclusion might not be quite as good, or iconic, as that pair, it does have a lot going for it, making it a more fitting finale than its mediocre predecessor.

4 out of 5

Shrek Forever After is on BBC One today at 3:10pm, and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.

Shrek the Third (2007)

2018 #101
Chris Miller | 93 mins | Blu-ray | 1.78:1 | USA / English | U / PG

Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third is notorious as The Bad One; the one where the bubble burst on the phenomenon that had sustained two well-reviewed and immensely financially successful films. The list of failed threequels is long — so long, you almost wonder why anyone bothers to make them — and while Shrek the Third does indeed do little to buck that trend, it could be worse.

The title isn’t just a variation from calling the film Shrek 3, but also hints at the plot: when the king dies, Shrek is next in line to the throne. But he’s been struggling so much at royal engagements that he wants out of that life anyway, never mind a promotion. Fortunately, there is a possible alternative: a young lad called Arthur. While Shrek, Donkey and Puss set off to find this spare heir, Princess Fiona and a cohort of other fairytale princesses must fend off an attack from Prince Charming, who still has eyes on the throne.

It’s not a terrible plot for a Shrek movie, but it’s not particularly original either. Thematically, Shrek’s disinterest in being royalty was covered in the last film, though at least this time it’s bolstered with a fatherhood angle. The choice of villain, however, straight up takes the last film’s secondary antagonist and recycles him as a primary antagonist — if there’s a more literal example of sequels representing diminishing returns, I can’t think of it.

Action princesses

As for everything else, there are some good ideas and funny bits here and there, but there’s also something that’s just… off. It’s not consistently amusing or creative enough. It doesn’t have the same effortless energy and pace as the first two. And some of its ideas sound decent on paper, but just don’t work in the film. For example, the fairytale twist on a high school where they find Arthur — Shrek’s got good mileage out of spoofing the real world before, so you can see the genesis of the idea, but it just doesn’t land here, with the setting being an irritant rather than an amusing parallel.

Although the film still credits Andrew Adamson, writer and/or director of both previous films, as among its executive producers, I reckon there must have been debilitating changes behind the scenes, because the whole production just comes up short. Like, where the previous films offered legitimately exciting action scenes, the ones here could be decent but come off flat. It shouldn’t matter — this is a fantasy comedy, not an action movie — but it’s just one part that’s emblematic of the whole. Another is the song choices, which, like the fairytale high school thing, are seemingly okay but actually just wrong. As in, most of them are good songs, but they so often don’t actually quite fit the movie — I mean, Live and Let Die during a funeral?

Shrek the Third isn’t entirely without merit, but something seems to have gone awry between conception and execution, and it doesn’t zing in the way its predecessors did.

3 out of 5

Shrek 2 (2004)

The 100 Films Guide to…

Shrek 2

Not so far, far away…

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 93 minutes
BBFC: U
MPAA: PG

Original Release: 19th May 2004 (USA)
UK Release: 2nd July 2004
Budget: $150 million
Worldwide Gross: $919.8 million

Stars
Mike Myers (Wayne’s World, The Love Guru)
Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop, Norbit)
Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angels, The Holiday)
Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro, The Skin I Live In)
John Cleese (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, A Fish Called Wanda)
Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, The Princess Diaries)
Jennifer Saunders (Muppet Treasure Island, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie)
Rupert Everett (An Ideal Husband, St. Trinian’s)

Directors
Andrew Adamson (Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
Kelly Asbury (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Gnomeo & Juliet)
Conrad Vernon (Monsters vs Aliens, Sausage Party)

Screenwriters
Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mr. Pip)
Joe Stillman (Shrek, Planet 51)
J. David Stem (The Rugrats Movie, The Smurfs)
David N. Weiss (All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Smurfs 2)

Story by
Andrew Adamson (Shrek the Third, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away)

Based on
Shrek!, a picture book by William Steig — even more loosely than last time, though.


The Story
Newlyweds Shrek and Fiona travel to meet her parents, the King and Queen of Far Far Away. They’re less than pleased about their daughter marrying an ogre, especially as the King made a deal with Fairy Godmother for her son, Prince Charming, to be Fiona’s husband — and she insists that bargain be fulfilled.

Our Heroes
Shrek and Donkey, off another whirlwind adventure! After Shrek has a lover’s tiff with his new bride, he sets off to try to make himself what he thinks she wants: human.

Our Villain
Fairy Godmother might seem sweet and helpful, but she actually runs a factory with oppressed workers (they don’t even have dental!) and is manipulating the King so her son can become his heir.

Best Supporting Character
When Fairy Godmother orders the King to deal with Shrek, he seeks out a renowned ogre hunter: Puss in Boots. He may look like an adorable little kitty, but he’s a devil with a sword.

Memorable Quote
“It looks like we’re up chocolate creek without a Popsicle stick!” — Gingerbread Man

Memorable Scene
As a party begins at which Prince Charming will kiss Fiona and make her fall in love with him, Fairy Godmother entertains the guests with a rendition of Holding Out for a Hero — as Shrek and friends storm the castle to rescue his wife.

Memorable Music
The use of pop songs was a defining characteristic of the first Shrek, so naturally that continues here. However, there are also a lot more diegetic songs this time: Jennifer Saunders gets two musical numbers as Fairy Godmother (one an amusing riff on typical Disney numbers, the other mentioned above), plus Tom Waits and Nick Cave both sing (as the same character). The film also includes two really good covers of Holding Out for a Hero (the second, by Frou Frou, plays over the credits), which is some kind of achievement.

Making of / Letting the Side Down
For the UK release, two minor roles were redubbed: Doris the Ugly Stepsister, voiced by chat show host Larry King originally, was replaced by chat show host Jonathan Ross; and the red carpet announcer, voiced by Joan Rivers in the US, was replaced by Kate Thornton, who also must’ve done red carpet stuff at some point, I dunno. I guess it seemed like a fun idea at the time — the idea, presumably, was to localise famous voices with ones that would be better-known in other countries — but they shouldn’t’ve bothered: it’s just distracting, and neither replacement gives a very convincing performance. I think this was the first time such voice localisation had been done, and it seemed to kick off a minor fad for it. I thought it had gone away, but they recently defaced Kung Fu Panda 3 with a similar trick.

Previously on…
Shrek 2 picks up pretty closely from the end of Shrek — you probably need to see that to make full sense of this one.

Next time…
A further two sequels followed, plus a spin-off movie (which has its own spin-offs, including a six-season TV series). There’s also a 4D theme park attraction (which uses a plot that was rejected for Shrek 2) and numerous TV specials. There are always rumours of the franchise getting resurrected, too.

Awards
2 Oscar nominations (Animated Film, Original Song (Accidentally in Love))
2 Saturn Award nominations (Animated Film, DVD Special Edition)
7 Annie Award nominations (Animated Feature, Animated Effects, Directing, Music, Storyboarding, Voice Acting (Antonio Banderas), Writing)
Nominated for the Palme d’Or (again!)

Verdict

Having said Shrek has aged and dated, I think Shrek 2 has fared better. Arguably the first one has more pure originality, giving birth to an irreverent fairytale meta-verse, but Shrek 2 expands on those building blocks and plays with the ideas. There are lots of fun movie spoofs (though many are from the same era, so their effectiveness could partly be nostalgia), the climax is a legitimately good action sequence (see Memorable Scene), and there’s even a decent thematic throughline about what you’re prepared to do or give up for the one you love. Plus the animation looks a lot more polished — three years makes a huge difference in computer animation, especially in the early noughties. The first one has its moments, for sure, and perhaps some of them are better or more memorable too, but as an overall film I prefer the sequel.

Shrek (2001)

The 100 Films Guide to…

Shrek

The greatest fairy tale never told.

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 90 minutes
BBFC: U
MPAA: PG

Original Release: 16th May 2001 (USA)
UK Release: 29th June 2001
Budget: $60 million
Worldwide Gross: $484.4 million

Stars
Mike Myers (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, The Cat in the Hat)
Eddie Murphy (Coming to America, Dreamgirls)
Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary, Gangs of New York)
John Lithgow (Cliffhanger, Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

Directors
Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away)
Vicky Jenson (Shark Tale, Post Grad)

Screenwriters
Ted Elliott (Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)
Terry Rossio (The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)
Joe Stillman (Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Gulliver’s Travels)
Roger S.H. Schulman (Balto, Mulan II)

Based on
Shrek!, a picture book by William Steig.


The Story
When his swamp is overrun with fairytale creatures, ogre Shrek sets off to confront the man responsible, Lord Farquaad. To get his land back, Shrek must rescue the Princess Fiona from her dragon-guarded castle, so that Farquaad can marry her. But all is not as it appears…

Our Hero
Shrek is a grumpy Scottish-accented ogre who just wants to be left alone in his swamp, but events conspire to get in his way. Of course, as things transpire, he really has a heart of gold.

Our Villain
Men of his stature are in short supply, though there are those who think little of him — it’s Lord Farquaad, who wants Fiona to be his bride primarily so he can become king.

Best Supporting Character
Shrek’s new best friend (whether he likes it or not), wise-cracking ass Donkey, gets many of the best lines.

Memorable Quote
Gingerbread Man: “Do you know… the Muffin Man?”
Lord Farquaad: “The Muffin Man?”
Gingerbread Man: “The Muffin Man.”
Lord Farquaad: “Yes, I know the Muffin Man. Who lives on Drury Lane?”
Gingerbread Man: “Well, she’s married to the Muffin Man…”
Lord Farquaad: “The Muffin Man?”
Gingerbread Man: “The Muffin Man!
Lord Farquaad: “She’s married to the Muffin Man…”

Memorable Scene
As Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey travel back to Lord Farquaad, they’re jumped upon by Robin Hood (who, for no apparent reason, has a French accent) and his Merry Men, attempting to rescue Fiona by, in part, singing a merry song. But she doesn’t want rescuing and so goes all Matrix on their merry arses.

Memorable Music
As part of its generally irreverent take on myths and fairytales, Shrek is laden with contemporary popular music. It was all very modern at the time, but, 17 years on, it’s obviously dated itself, sounding distinctly early-millennium-y now.

Technical Wizardry
The overall animation quality may be looking a bit dated now, but Shrek hails from the era when every major new computer-animated movie was breaking ground in the field, in one way or another. In Shrek‘s case, it was the ability to realistically animate hair and grass.

Next time…
To date there have been three sequel movies, a spin-off movie (which then has its own world of attendant spin-offs, including a six-season TV series), a 4D theme park attraction (which was included in 3D on some DVD releases of the film), plus numerous TV specials and the like, as well as a stage musical version. There are constant rumours of the franchise getting a big-screen continuation, too.

Awards
1 Oscar (Animated Feature)
1 Oscar nomination (Adapted Screenplay)
1 BAFTA (Adapted Screenplay)
5 BAFTA nominations (Film, Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy), Music, Sound, Special Visual Effects)
1 BAFTA Children’s Award (Film)
1 Saturn Award (DVD Special Edition)
4 Saturn Award nominations (Fantasy Film, Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy), Writing, Music)
8 Annie Awards (Animated Theatrical Feature, Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature, Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature, Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Feature (Eddie Murphy), Individual Achievement for Effects Animation, Individual Achievement for Music Score an Animated Feature, Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature, Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature)
4 Annie Award nominations (Individual Achievement for Character Animation (x3), Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature)
Nominated for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation
Nominated for the Palme d’Or (seriously)

Verdict

DreamWorks’ irreverent riff on fairytale animations was a breath of fresh air back in 2001, allowing them to net the first Best Animated Feature Oscar ahead of Disney or Pixar. A decade and a half of imitators have taken the shine off that somewhat, as have advances in technology (old CGI ages worse than old cel animation), but it remains an amusing and quotable film, with a surprisingly strong moral message at its heart.

Musical Review Roundup

My blog is alive with the sound of music, courtesy of…

  • Sing Street (2016)
  • Jersey Boys (2014)
  • Sing (2016)
  • Into the Woods (2014)


    Sing Street
    (2016)

    2017 #13
    John Carney | 106 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | Ireland, UK & USA / English | 12 / PG-13

    Sing Street

    A struggling busker — sorry, a failing record exec — no, sorry, a misfit teenage boy… sets out to impress a beautiful fellow busker — sorry, a promising singer-songwriter — no, sorry, a cool girl… by helping her record a record — sorry, by coercing her to record a record — no, sorry, by persuading her to star in the music video for the record he’s recorded. Except he hasn’t actually recorded that record yet. In fact, he doesn’t even have a band.

    Yes, the writer-director of Once and Begin Again has, in some respects, made the same film again. Yet somehow the formula keeps working. Here there’s extra charm by it being school kids dealing with first love and finding their place in the world. It’s something we all go through, so there’s a universality and nostalgia to it that perhaps isn’t present in the story of twenty/thirty-somethings who are still floundering around (especially Begin Again, which made them cool twenty/thirty-somethings living in cool New York).

    It’s fuelled by endearing performances, particularly from young leads Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Lucy Boynton, and a soundtrack of era-aping toe-tappers — in an alternate (better) universe, The Riddle of the Model and Drive It Like You Stole It competed for the Best Original Song Oscar, and one of them won it too. And those are just the highlights — the rest of the soundtrack is fab as well. I imagine if you were a music-loving teenager in the ’80s, this movie is your childhood fantasy.

    5 out of 5

    Sing Street placed 7th on my list of The 17 Best Films I Saw For the First Time in 2017, which can be read in full here.

    Jersey Boys
    (2014)

    2017 #97
    Clint Eastwood | 134 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | USA / English | 15 / R

    Jersey Boys

    A musical biopic about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons doesn’t seem like a very Clint Eastwood film at first glance, but when it turns out to be kind of Goodfellas but with the music industry, it becomes at least a little more understandable.

    Based on the hit Broadway musical, it retains a staginess of structure — the four band members take turns narrating the story by speaking to camera — while also opening out the settings so it feels less “jukebox musical” and more “biopic with songs”. It takes some liberties with the chronology of events for dramatic effect, but that’s the movies for you.

    The shape of the story feels familiar and it feels leisurely in the time it takes to tell it, but the songs are good and most of it is perfectly likeable. It’s by no means a bad movie, just not one that’s likely to alight any passion.

    3 out of 5

    Sing
    (2016)

    2017 #107
    Garth Jennings | 108 mins | download (HD+3D) | 1.85:1 | USA / English | U / PG

    Sing

    The seventh feature from Illumination (aka the Minions people) comes across like a cut-price Zootopia: in a world where animals live side-by-side in cities like humans, a struggling theatre owner launches an X Factor-esque singing competition to revive his fortunes. Naturally there’s a motley cast of participants, all with celebrity voices, and hijinks ensue.

    Apparently the film features 65 pop songs, the rights to which cost 15% of the budget — if true, that’s over $11 million just in music rights. The big musical numbers (all covers, obviously) are fine, with the best bit ironically being the new Stevie Wonder song on the end credits, which is accompanied by Busby Berkeley-ing squid. Elsewhere, there are some moments of inventiveness, but it doesn’t feel as fully realised as Zootropolis. Perhaps that’s part and parcel of Illumination’s ethos: to make films that translate internationally, presumably by being quite homogeneous. And to make them cheaply (their budgets are typically half of a Pixar movie), which has its own pros and cons.

    Anyway, the end result is fine. Much like Jersey Boys, Sing is perfectly watchable without ever transcending into anything exceptional.

    3 out of 5

    Into the Woods
    (2014)

    2017 #118
    Rob Marshall | 125 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.39:1 | USA, UK & Canada / English | PG / PG

    Into the Woods

    Fairytales are combined and rejigged in Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, here brought to the screen by the director of Chicago. The original is a work that definitely has its fans, but doesn’t seem to have crossed over in the way of, say, Phantom of the Opera or Les Mis — I confess, I’m not sure I’d even heard of it before the film was announced.

    The film adaptation readily suggests why that might be. For one, it’s light on hummable tunes. It’s almost sung through, with only a few bits seeming to stand out as discrete songs in their own right. For example, it takes the opening number a full 15 minutes to reach its culmination, having been diverted into a few asides. Said song culminates with most of the main characters going into the woods while singing about how they’re going into the woods, and yet the film doesn’t put its title card there. The placement of a title card is a dying art, I tell you.

    Performances are a mixed bag. Everyone can sing, at least (by no means guaranteed in a modern Hollywood musical adaptation), and the likes of Emily Blunt, James Corden, and Anna Kendrick are largely engaging, but then you’ve got Little Red Riding Hood and her incredibly irritating accent. Fortunately, she gets eaten. Unfortunately, she gets rescued. On the bright side there’s Chris Pine, his performance well judged to send up the romantic hero role. You may remember Meryl Streep got a few supporting actress nominations for this, which is ludicrous. It’s not that she’s bad, but she’s in no way of deserving of an Oscar.

    There are witty and clever bits, both of story and music, but in between these flashes it feels kind of nothingy. It’s also overlong — the plot wraps up at the halfway point, with the second half (presumably what comes after an interval on stage) feeling like a weak sequel to the decent first half. All in all, another one for the “fine, but could do better” pile.

    3 out of 5

  • Tale of Tales (2015)

    aka Il racconto dei racconti

    2016 #148
    Matteo Garrone | 134 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | Italy, France & UK / English | 15 / R

    Tale of Tales

    Based on 17th Century Italian fairytales by Giambattista Basile, Tale of Tales relates three interlocking stories of dark fantasy. If there’s one thing that really connects them, it’s thematic: essentially, “be careful what you wish for”; or maybe “be grateful for what you’ve got”. There are primary characters in each tale who go to disgustingly extraordinary lengths to achieve what they desire — eating a sea-monster’s heart raw, breeding a giant flea, self-flaying — and it rarely turns out for the best.

    If you can stomach the contents, there’s a quality cast, and the locations, production design, and cinematography are simply gorgeous.

    4 out of 5

    October 2014 + Favourite Fairy Tale Films

    Lots to get through in this most decimal of months, so I’ll provide you with a nifty ten-point contents list…

  • October’s WDYMYHS entry (if there was one!)
  • Announcing this year’s #100!
  • All of this month’s viewing.
  • Analysis of the above, plus…
  • A note on my quite grand all-time review total.
  • A visual recap of this month’s archive re-posts.
  • A note on changes to some header images (more exciting than that sounds… maybe…)
  • A section I have titled “No longer loving film”…
  • What are your Favourite Fairy Tale Films?
  • And the “next time” bit. Bet no one ever clicks through to that. But this month there’s a poem. Oo-ooh.
  • All in all, it’s a thorough monthly round-up! So let’s get going…


    What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

    This one’ll be quick: there’s no WDYMYHS film this month. First time I’ve slipped this year.

    Why not? I simply didn’t fancy one. The pool has narrowed to just Oldboy, Rear Window, and Requiem for a Dream, and while I’m sure they’re all great films — and all ones I’ve been keen to see for yonks — an opportunity didn’t arise where they felt right. I could’ve forced one last night, but what’s the point in forcing it?

    Two months remain to make it up. And maybe actually watch Raging Bull like I said I would, too.

    In happier news:


    And #100 is…

    I’ve tried to make previous #100s notable, when possible: in 2007 it was the (then-)greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane; in 2010 it was the most recent Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker; and last year it was the epically epic Lawrence of Arabia. (The other two, Swing Time and The A-Team, are both films I liked, but both were viewed more of necessity than strict “what would be a good #100?” choice.)

    Come this year, then, and what have I chosen for my sixth #100? After being scuppered for several days by not fancying anything too momentous, I threw the desire for meaning out the window and acquiesced to the other half’s request for me to “get that rude-sounding film off the Virgin box”, rendering 2014’s #100 as the debut feature of American Hustle’s David O. Russell, Spanking the Monkey. Here’s my drabble review.

    (It’s an unfortunate coincidence that I’ve posted multiple drabble reviews in the past week. Full-length reviews do continue, and I’m sure there’ll be some soon.)


    Dead Poets SocietyOctober’s films in full

    #98 Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978), aka Se ying diu sau
    #99 The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    #100 Spanking the Monkey (1994)
    #101 The Tourist (2010)
    #102 Edge of Tomorrow (2014), aka Live. Die. Repeat.
    Cockneys vs Zombies#103 Dead Poets Society (1989)
    #104 La Belle et la Bête (1946), aka Beauty and the Beast
    #104a The 10th Kingdom (2000)
    #105 Ten Little Indians (1965)
    #106 Furious 6 (2013), aka Fast & Furious 6
    #107 Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)
    #108 Last Action Hero (1993)


    Analysis

    Ooooooone-huuuuuundred!

    Ahem, ‘scuse me. But that’s undoubtedly the headline of this month’s viewing: as you may’ve noticed, I’ve reached #100, for the sixth time out of eight attempts. That’s a 75% success rate — not bad, really. This is the first time I’ve done it in October; a month behind my two earliest years (2007 and 2010 got there in September), ahead of last year’s November finish, and considerably less stressful than the down-to-the-wire December conclusions of 2008 and 2011 (both of which reached #100 on December 31st!)

    This is also the fourth time I’ve passed the 100 films total. The next milestone is last year’s 110, which I’m closing in on (I’m already further ahead than I was at the end of November last year); after that, there’s 2010’s 122 and 2007’s 129 still to overtake. 2007 was my first year and remains unbettered, so it would be just shiny to finally achieve that. I’m 22 films away from that goal, which the averages for this year suggest is possible — a little too possible, actually, as 11-films-a-month is the precise average of the year to date. (Which, you’ll note, makes October a particularly average month.) Alas, history adds no reassurance: my average tally for previous November & December viewing is 17 films — and that’s boosted by strong numbers in 2008 and 2009, too: over the past four years, my Nov./Dec. average total is just 11. Still, 2014 hasn’t played ball when it comes to past averages, so we’ll see.

    And, incidentally, though I ‘only’ watched 11 new films this month, I gave over five film-viewing slots to The 10th Kingdom — if I’d watched countable films instead, I’d be at 16, which would’ve made October my second-best month of 2014. But I didn’t, so it isn’t… but without a similar miniseries re-watch project lined up for the immediate future, November and December’s numbers might benefit.

    It’s all to play for! Which is exciting for me, at least.

    Moving on…


    Niiiiine-huuuuundred

    Also this month, I passed 900 feature film reviews. Sure sounds like a lot to me.

    OK, firstly, I haven’t posted 900 reviews — my backlog’s still quite extensive — but I’ve surpassed 900 films that will be reviewed. I’m somewhere in the 850s right now, I think.

    Secondly, it doesn’t mean I’ve reached #900. The tally includes all the extra reviews I’ve done down the years — the repeat viewings and the not-that-different director’s cuts and so on. The official #900 (as it were) would be this year’s #148. I’m doing well, but that’s not very likely at all. Next year, then.

    And with that, there’s a chance for something even bigger: if I can make it suitably far past #100 this year and next year, one of 2015’s last films will be #1000!

    (For those interested in a more precise number, I need to reach #124 both years for that to happen. Alternatively, if I do make it to a record-breaking #130 this year, then 2015’s #118 would be #1000. There are dozens of other plausible permutations besides those, of course.)


    This month’s archive reviews

    As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, my old stomping ground of FilmJournal is no more. For more on what that means check out the link, but for the purposes of my archive re-posts: they’re now more labour-intensive to complete, and I’m lazy, so there have been fewer. The project will still be finished, but it may take a bit longer than the speed I was churning through them before.

    Nonetheless, the last 31 days have seen 20 reviews re-appear:


    Pretty Pictures, Mk.II

    Back in August 2013, I finally added some header images to my “list of reviews” and “reviews by director” pages. This month, there’s been a little refresh and addition. “List of reviews” remains the same, but “reviews by director” has been updated to reflect my most-reviewed directors — mostly thanks to zombie movies

    George A. Romero barged his way to near the top of the pile when I reviewed all six of his “of the Dead” films this time last year, while World War Z saw Marc Forster tip from the also-rans into the must-includes. There are 20 slots on that banner, and a fourteen-way tie for 18th place means I had to be selective. Quite by chance, I remained alphabetical: Hideaki Anno and James Cameron remain from the previous banner (Cameron due to significance, Anno because I’ll watch Evangelion 3.33 early next year when Manga UK are finally able to release it, which will only cement his place), while Danny Boyle is added. (Directors leaving the banner to make room are Richard Lester, George Lucas, and David Yates.)

    Finally, I’ve finally added a header to the “coming soon” page. That’s a page that lists films I’ve already seen but will review in days to come — it’s looking ‘back to the future’, if you will. And that explains that.


    No longer loving film

    Also this month in the world of 100 Films, I finally cancelled my LOVEFiLM (or, as it’s now known, LOVEFiLM By Post) subscription. I liked it for the ability to rent pretty much anything released on disc (a far better selection than any streaming service offers, not to mention the comparative picture quality), but between all the stuff I’ve bought, the convenience of aforementioned streaming services (LOVEFiLM may have more choice overall, but only one or two discs in your possession at any one time), and recording stuff off TV too, I wasn’t getting through my rentals. Indeed, in some cases I’ve theoretically spent more on one rental than if I’d just bought a copy. Ugh. So I finally made the cancellation leap.

    I’ve still got a Now TV films subscription for the time being, but as the price of that recently went up, I’m not sure for how much longer…


    Favourite Fairy Tale Films

    Once again I haven’t found the time to get stuck into a fully-written list of five, but having watching La Belle et la Bête and The 10th Kingdom in preparation for next weekend’s Fairy Tale Blogathon, I was thinking: what’s your favourite fairy tale movie?

    Disney seem to have a near-monopoly on these, so undoubtedly some of their output would’ve made my list — Beauty and the Beast, definitely; The Little Mermaid and Aladdin are childhood favourites for me; and Cinderella is my pick of their older classics. Also from the Mouse House is Enchanted — inspired by fairy tales rather than technically adapted from them, but one of the best movies to play in that sandpit. Similarly, the Shrek series, and The 10th Kingdom too.

    And if you want to get really out there, the BFI’s list of 10 great fairytale films allows in cinematic originals like My Neighbour Totoro and Pan’s Labyrinth. The former I could definitely go for in my final five, but I didn’t warm to the latter. Must re-watch that.

    Feel free to share your thoughts below.


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    Remember, remember, you films in November,
    have good characters, dialogue, and plot.
    I know of no movie
    worth considering groovy
    that does not have the lot.

    (With my apologies.)