Blindspot 2020: What do you mean you haven’t seen…?

The Blindspot challenge (for the benefit of those still unfamiliar with it) is where you pick 12 films you feel you should’ve seen but haven’t, then watch one a month throughout the year. I started doing this in 2013, calling it “What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?” (WDYMYHS for short), but then someone else came up with the same notion independently and gave it a much snappier moniker, and that caught on.

My fortunes with the Blindspot / WDYMYHS challenge have been up and down over the years. I’ll spare you a full potted history, but last year I set myself two lists of 12 films each and didn’t complete either — although between them I did watch 17 movies. I braved 24 films because for two years before that I’d done 22 and completed it with relative ease. So maybe I should aim for 24 again this year…

…but I’m not going to. In the same way that the second half of 2019 was a bit unpredictable (leading to my failures), I’m not wholly sure what the future holds, so I’m going to rein it back to the original 12 and see how it goes. And besides, if I find 12 unchallenging then I’ve got the seven remaining films from last year I could move on to; plus one from 2015 that I never got round to. That’s a pretty big ‘buffer’ to work on.

Now, I’ll jump ahead to the main event: the 12 films I must watch, in alphabetical order. Afterwards, I’ll explain how they were chosen.


8½


All Quiet on
the Western Front
All Quiet on the Western Front


An American Werewolf
in London
An American Werewolf in London


Andrei Rublev
Andrei Rublev


The Battle of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers


Do the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing


Fanny and Alexander
Fanny and Alexander


The French Connection
The French Connection


In the Mood for Love
In the Mood for Love


Ordet
Ordet


Ugetsu Monogatari
Ugetsu Monogatari


Under the Skin
Under the Skin

So, some people just pick their 12 films. When I did two lists, that’s what I did for one of them. But the rest of the time I’ve let consensus decide, by compiling “great film” lists in various different combinations to suggest the films other people feel I should’ve seen. I quite like both methods, so for 2020 I’ve picked six with one and half-a-dozen with the other. That said, my ‘free choice’ six were influenced by some of the films that didn’t quite make it into the ‘preselected’ six. (Feel free to guess which films belong in which six. Fun and games! Answers in a mo.)

This year, the selection process involved the following lists:

  • Letterboxd’s Official Top 250 Narrative Feature Films
  • IMDb’s Top Rated Movies (aka the IMDb Top 250)
  • The 1,000 Greatest Films by They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? (aka TSPDT)
  • the Reddit Top 250
  • Empire’s The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time (aka the Empire 500)
  • Sight & Sound’s The 100 Greatest Films of All Time (2012 edition)

    Because TSPDT takes Sight & Sound’s voter ballots as its foundation, I counted the Letterboxd scores twice as a way of evening it out a bit and not letting S&S be too dominant. It only worked up to a point. For example, Harakiri is ranked 4th on the Letterboxd list and 33rd on IMDb, but it’s a lowly 647th on TSPDT and nowhere on the other lists. So as I started adding the lists together (in the order I’ve credited them above), Harakiri was right at the top, then gradually fell right back. But that’s kinda the point of counting multiple lists: it’s getting a consensus of consensuses. Letterboxd users clearly think Harakiri is one of the very greatest films of all time; IMDb voters aren’t quite as enthusiastic, but it’s up there; everyone else… not so much.

    But it’s not just about the raw numbers of which films top the list: I have some rules. Chief among them, I’ve previously only selected films I already own on DVD/Blu-ray or have access to on Netflix/Prime/etc. This year, I let the door open to anything, though I did first make sure I could reasonably source a copy. So, top of the list was Andrei Rublev, followed by Federico Fellini’s . Next, in a somewhat ironic turn of events, my new “open door” policy actually led to some high-scoring films being eliminated. While sourcing copies of Come and See and Sátántangó, I discovered that both have recently been restored and are expected to get Blu-ray releases in 2020. You might think that’s perfect timing, but what if one or both slipped to 2021, or were insanely overpriced? So I decided to adopt a “wait and see” approach. Maybe they’ll be on 2021’s list.

    Next in the running was In the Mood for Love, followed by Ordet. Then my only still-standing regular rule came into play: one film per director. That meant the next film — La Dolce Vita, which shares Fellini with — was cut. After that is actually where Sátántangó was ranked (keeping up? I don’t blame you if you’re not), followed by Mirror — but Mirror is directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, the same as Andrei Rublev, so out it went too. But now we do finally reach the end: the next two high-scorers were Fanny and Alexander and The Battle of Algiers, which (as you’ll know from their inclusion in the list above) were fine.

    And with those six settled upon, I turned to picking six more from my DVD/Blu-ray collection. There’s less to say about these: I made a long-list of 127 ‘maybe’s; narrowed it down to 38 ‘very possibly’s; and then picked six, based on a mix of intuition about what I ‘should’ have seen and things I’ve personally been wanting to see for a while. I did also try to keep some variety in terms of the films’ ages, genres, countries, and languages… but almost all the ones that made my short-list were in English, so, er, oops. It meant Ugetsu Monogatari was an easy choice, anyway; and I was sure to include some British films (or British co-productions, at least); and Do the Right Thing may be American, but it’s also the only one of the 12 from a black filmmaker. (No female directors, though, which is an unfortunate oversight.) Still, on balance there are more films not in English (seven vs five), and the B&W/colour split is exactly 50/50.

    Four of my six ‘free choices’ do appear further down the rankings I’d compiled. That’s coincidence rather than design, although I suppose seeing them on the list might’ve helped push them to the forefront of my mind. Those four were Do the Right Thing (18th), Ugetsu Monogatari (23rd), An American Werewolf in London (127th), and The French Connection (162nd). I don’t know about you, but I was a little surprised All Quiet on the Western Front didn’t make it. Well, of the lists I’ve used this year the only one it’s on is TSPDT, at a lowly 742nd. (I’m not surprised Under the Skin wasn’t on any, what with it being so recent. For one thing, it hadn’t even been released when the Empire and Sight & Sound polls were conducted.)

    And that’s all that thoroughly over-explained.

    (Did anyone read all this?) (Hello future-me, who surely will re-read all this at some point, sad egocentric that I am.)

    Finally, if I manage those 12 and want more, the eight left outstanding from 2015 and 2019 are…

  • All About Eve
  • All the President’s Men
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Ikiru
  • The Ipcress File
  • The Royal Tenenbaums
  • The Thin Red Line
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

    This is hardly a chore — there are some great-looking movies there — so hopefully I’ll find time for all 20. It would only be fitting, given the year…

  • The Best & Worst of 2019

    Featured

    As it’s January 10th, what better date to post my top 10 from last year’s viewing? (Yes, I know: “an earlier one.”)

    As well as my favourite films I saw during 2019, this final review-of-the-year post also includes my least favourite films, as well as a list of 2019’s most noteworthy releases that I missed.

    Before we begin, a quick reminder that these lists are not selected from films released in 2019, but from all 151 movies I saw for the first time during 2019.



    The Five Worst Films I Saw For the First Time in 2019

    “Worst of” lists are very unpopular on Twitter nowadays (there was a whole to-do about them when the pro ones started popping up last month). I do kind of agree that they’re of dubious value, but it remains an unavoidable fact that some films are poor or disappointing and therefore, as part of an overall review of the year, it seems only fair to remember the weaker side of it too. (Especially as I’ve been so tardy with reviews this year, and therefore haven’t shared my negative opinion of all of these elsewise.)

    So, in alphabetical order…

    Cosmopolis
    With Robert Pattinson being cast as Batman, there was a lot of commentary about how he’d done so much good work since Twilight — and I realised I hadn’t seen any of it. Someone described this David Cronenberg film as basically being a Bruce Wayne movie, so that seemed as good a place to start. Sadly, it proved nothing about Pattinson’s acting ability, nor Cronenberg’s enduring ability to make good movies. I found it confusing, cheap-looking, and boring.

    Happy New Year, Colin Burstead
    Talking of boring, here’s the most recent work from director Ben Wheatley. I’ve had mixed feelings about his previous films, but they were all at least interesting in some way. Colin Burstead is not. In the review I’ve written but never got round to posting, I describe it as “like an art house EastEnders” and say “it’s really slow and frequently abstruse.” Over a year after it first aired it’s still available on iPlayer, but I wouldn’t recommend you seek it out.

    Holmes & Watson
    I don’t rank these, but if I did Holmes & Watson would come last. A movie so shockingly inept it’s a wonder that it’s a studio movie made by seasoned professionals — I’m no fan of Will Ferrell, but you’d think at this point he’d be in movies that are at least competently produced. Weak filmmaking wouldn’t really matter if it was funny, because that’s the sole and defining purpose of a comedy, but there are no laughs here either. A total disaster. [Full review]

    The Saint
    Made as a pilot for a TV series, then retrofitted into being a movie after that failed to get picked up, it might seem like I’m kicking this when it’s down to name it a “bad movie”. The thing is, it would’ve been a bad TV show too. Its biggest problem is that, stylistically, it feels 25 years older than it is — like mid-’90s syndication filler, rather than the slick, contemporary, spy-actioner I think it wanted to be. The Saint is an IP with potential, but this does not utilise it.

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
    Okay, Episode IX probably isn’t one of the five worst films I saw in 2019 (I gave it 3 stars after all, though I was being generous), but it was certainly the most disappointing. Maybe I shouldn’t’ve had hope, but I enjoyed both Episodes VII and VIII, so I thought there was a reasonable chance they could stick the landing. I was wrong. And it makes the preceding Sequel Trilogy films lesser with it, because it exposes the lack of overarching point to any of it. [Full review]



    The 15 Best Films I Saw For the First Time in 2019

    Where others may do a top ten, or twenty, or fifty, nowadays I do a top 10%. This year I watched 151 films, so my ‘top ten’ has 15 films.

    Although this list is selected from all the movies I watched for the first time in 2019, I did watch 34 films that had their UK release in 2019… plus four that will have their UK release in 2020, which is a first. So I’ve lumped those in with the 2019 lot and noted their ‘2019 rank’ in case you’re interested.

    15
    Brigsby Bear

    Moviemakers like to make movies about people who set out by themselves to make movies — think Son of Rambow, Be Kind Rewind, or Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Brigsby Bear follows in their tonal vein, as a quirky story about a young man freed from a lifetime of imprisonment who’s determined to complete the story of the TV show his captors used to make just for him. Think Room written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry.

    A very much overlooked, nigh-on forgotten minor Western, which I’m sure I never would’ve seen were it not for Quentin Tarantino including it in his pre-Once Upon a Time in Hollywood movie marathon (as an example of the kind of Western programmers that film’s actor hero would’ve starred in). But I’m glad he brought it to my attention, because I found it be a well-told, well-performed study of toxic masculinity and parental influence, with a splash of gun control rhetoric to boot. This may’ve been made in 1958, but it has a heckuva lot of accurate stuff to say about our society six decades later. [Full review.]

    This is the kind of movie I’m not sure I’ll ever watch again, because living through its terror once was enough. I watched it back in February but there are images that still pop into my head to chill me. A masterful work of horror. [Full review.]

    12
    The Report

    2019 #4 This is a movie not to everyone’s taste, as some middle-of-the-road reviews, and Amazon’s lack of backing for it in awards season, attest. It’s easy to dismiss it as a filmed Wikipedia article, because it’s obsessively accurate and methodical in the way it lays out the facts of its case — about the CIA’s ineffective use of torture post-9/11 — but, in fact, that fits both the style of its lead character-cum-hero, and the purpose of its existence, which I think is to help expose the truth more widely. After all, we know what went on, but who’s actually had to face any consequences for it? In apportioning blame, writer-director Scott Z. Burns is strikingly nonpartisan, refusing to let the Obama administration off the hook for their part. So it’s a shame it hasn’t connected more widely, because its message is important; and even besides that, it’s an absorbing thriller… and someone doing paperwork.

    I probably saw better films than Mandy during 2019, but I saw few that were as aesthetically striking — and certainly none with a header pic that could equal this shot of star Nic Cage. It’s a nightmarishly surreal journey of revenge, with plot points and visuals that can’t be described, they just have to be experienced. And oh my, what an experience. [Full review.]

    10
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

    This overlooked ’30s-set rom-com boasts a starry cast and a likeable bounce, and I guess that’s where many people’s assessment of it stops — if they’ve even bothered to assess it at all. But what really worked for me was the way it feels like an actual movie from its era, with the quick-talking wit of screwball comedies, the slight earnestness of a simpler age, and the confidence to throw in some more serious undercurrents without the fear it will ruin the fun. Instead, they elevate it. As a throwback to classic cinema, it’s delightful.

    9
    Eighth Grade

    2019 #3 On Letterboxd I simply stated this was “the most truthful movie about what it’s actually like to be a teenager I think I’ve ever seen,” and that just about sums up why its here. The milieu of its story is very Now — teenagers locked to their phones, living their lives through Instagram and YouTube — but look past the ultra-current specificity and there’s a universality in the experience of shy, insecure thirteen-year-old Kayla. Most of us have been there, and Eighth Grade captures just what it was like. (Before anyone asks/complains: this counts as a 2019 film because its UK release wasn’t until April ’19.)

    The premise of Spike Lee’s detective movie sounds like a joke — “what if a black man joined the KKK?” — but it’s a true story. With that in mind, you may expect a deadly serious, heavy-going movie. Instead, Lee mixes in a lively humour that keeps the movie entertaining even as it hits you with serious points. And very timely ones, as the controversial (but, in my opinion, merited) closing moments make clear. [Full review.]

    7
    La Belle Époque

    2019 #2 Reading reviews, I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this French romantic comedy-drama — it looked like it might be nice, and that’s about all. A pleasant surprise, then, to find there’s so much more to it than just a pleasantly diverting couple of hours. The story of a man who attempts to relive the day he met the wife who no longer loves him, it’s sharply witty, surprisingly beautiful in places, and genuinely emotional by the end. Surely it’s destined for an inferior American remake.

    6
    Searching

    There are several true-story crime thrillers close-by on this top ten — if you watched them back-to-back with Searching, they might show it up a little bit, because it does get a little Movie Logic in its final act. But that’s worth letting slide because of the very particular way it tells its engrossing story. The entire movie takes place from the POV of a computer screen, as a desperate father tries to work out what’s happened to his missing teenage daughter. Pleasingly, the film doesn’t break its own rules, but uses the limitations to its advantage to create a new, timely way of viewing a narrative. And while the final act may be a bit grandiose compared to real life, its array of twists are satisfying.

    5
    Memories of Murder

    Director Bong Joon Ho is attracting a lot of attention this awards season (heck, this year) for his latest, Parasite, and made my top ten last year with his long-delayed-in-the-UK sci-fi parable Snowpiercer. This surprisingly-hard-to-come-by (someone do a good Western Blu-ray release, please!) film wasn’t his first, but was what initially garnered him some attention outside Korea. A true-story-inspired crime thriller, it invites comparisons to David Fincher’s Zodiac in the way it follows obsessed investigators as they try to uncover the truth behind an unsolved wave of murders. Zodiac is one of my favourite films, but Memories of Murder is strong enough to withstand the comparison. (Also, yes, it predates Fincher’s film. I’m not claiming one copied the other, they just approach the same genre from a similar headspace.)

    4
    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    If I’m honest, I was prepared to dislike Scott Pilgrim — I mean, there’s a reason it took me almost a decade to get round to it. It always looked Too Cool; kind of too hipster-ish, though I guess in a geeky way. (Well, “hipster” and “geek” have been more closely linked than ever this decade, haven’t they?) I remember distinctly when it went down a storm at Comic-Con and so everyone believed it was The Next Big Thing, only for it to flop hard at the box office (providing a much-needed course correction on everyone’s view of the power of Comic-Con). But here’s the thing: it’s directed by Edgar Wright, and I should have trusted that. And so the film is everything you’d expect from the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver — deep-cut references (this time to video games), piles of humour, but also a dose of genuine emotion. Best of all is how it’s ceaselessly, fearlessly, creatively inventive with its cinematic tricks. No other film on this list is so overtly Directed, but in a good way.

    3
    Sherlock Jr.

    Sherlock Jr. is almost 100 years old now, but it still plays as fresh as a daisy. That’s the wonder of Buster Keaton, who mixes daredevil antics with genuine movie magic to produce an unforgettable farce with more laughs per minute than [insert your comedian of choice here] and more I-can’t-believe-he-just-did-that stunts than one of Tom Cruise’s impossible missions. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Heck, they probably wouldn’t let ’em.

    2
    Rififi

    This methodical French crime thriller is famed for its centrepiece — a half-hour heist that takes place in virtual silence — and that is indeed an unforgettably effective, edge-of-your-seat piece of cinema. But the film around it is so good, too: the events and plans that lead up to the heist; and the fallout of what occurs after. If you want to be a pedant then film noir “can’t be made outside America” — but even if that’s true, well, tough, because this is noir at its absolute best.

    1
    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    2019 #1 If my end-of-year #1s had a reputation, it would probably be for choosing recent movies. Every year I theoretically have the entirety of film history to choose from, but only once have I given my #1 slot to a film that was more than 18 months old. But this year takes that to extremes: I’ve given #1 to a film that isn’t even out yet (in the UK). Never mind Skyfall or Blade Runner 2049 only being 2 months old when I picked them — here, Portrait of Lady on Fire is currently -2 months old (its UK release is scheduled for 28th February). Still, it’s screened at plenty of festivals and had a few international releases, and received plenty of acclaim — well deserved, I think (obviously). It’s the kind of film that casts a spell, with its remote setting that isolates us with its characters, absorbing us into this vital moment in their lives; its thoroughly gorgeous photography, which is appropriately painterly; and a very particular pace, which some would dismiss as “slow” but I thought was just right. It also has a healthy, perhaps surprising dash of Gothic in how its narrative plays out, which particularly appealed to me. Basically, it’s an all-round stunning work.


    As usual, I’d just like to highlight a few other films.

    I’m always loathe to mention “films that almost made my list”, because that feels like cheating (I may as well just make the list longer and include them). However, because I only included four films released in 2019, I thought I’d flag up a few more of my favourites from the year itself. These aren’t #16–19, then, but they are 2019’s #5–8, because they’re the four 2019 releases that came closest to getting in. But I’ll leave their exact ranking to your imagination and just list them alphabetically: Deadwood: The Movie, Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and The Personal History of David Copperfield. Of course, there were dozens of acclaimed and/or popular 2019 films that I didn’t see, so take this ranking with a large pinch of salt — if I revisited yearly rankings after I’d caught up on more movies, they’d change entirely.

    Another honorary mention I want to make is more for a person than a film: Thomasin McKenzie, who almost single handedly earnt Leave No Trace a place in my top 15. I mean that as no disservice to everyone else involved — their combined work put it in contention, but it was McKenzie’s superb performance that almost tipped it in. (So, I guess that is #16.) And the other reason I’m mentioning her rather rather than just the film is because she was also excellent in Jojo Rabbit — easy to overlook among that film’s showy cast, but a pivotal and well-played part nonetheless. She’s definitely one to watch.

    Now, let’s recap the 12 films that won Favourite Film of the Month at the Arbies, some of which have already been mentioned in this post and some of which haven’t. In chronological order (with links to the relevant monthly update), they were The Player, Memories of Murder, Isle of Dogs, Searching, The Meg, Deadwood: The Movie, Sherlock Jr., Rififi, The Red Shoes, For Sama, La Belle Époque, and Eighth Grade.

    Finally, I never end this without mentioning all the films that earned themselves 5-star ratings throughout the year — especially as I haven’t reviewed most of them yet, so they merit their moment in the spotlight. During 2019 there were 25. 13 made it into my best list, so rather than name them again I’ll let you have fun guessing which were the two to only get 4-stars (hint: only one of them is in the actual top 10; and the other has a review, so you can easily find it out). The remaining twelve were Les diaboliques, The Favourite, For Sama, Isle of Dogs, Jojo Rabbit, The Killer, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Player, The Red Shoes, Roma, Rope, and Waltz with Bashir. Finally, I also gave full marks to Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which will be the subject of a “Guide To” at some point) and three short films, Pleased to Eat You!, Hey You, and Facing It (all reviewed in this roundup).


    I watched 34 films from 2019 during 2019, which means there are plenty of noteworthy releases I didn’t see — so here’s an alphabetical list of 50 I missed. (Why it’s 50, I’m not quite sure; but I’ve been doing it for 13 years, I’m not changing it now.) They’ve been chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim via simple notoriety; plus I’ve made an attempt to include a spread of styles and genres, successes and failures.

    As usual, I’ve followed IMDb’s dating in my selection process, which means there are movies listed here that haven’t actually come out in the UK yet. And some films have likely fallen through the cracks because they’re listed as 2018 but I wasn’t aware of them in time for last year’s list (though I’ve made one exception in that regard). But there are always more films worth noting than can be included, anyway. I mean, this year my starting list was 119 films long (maybe I should increase how many I include…)

    1917
    Doctor Sleep
    It: Chapter Two
    Le Mans '66
    Parasite
    Spider-Man: Far from Home
    Aladdin
    Godzilla: King of the Monsters
    Joker
    The Lighthouse
    Us
    X-Men: Dark Phoenix
    1917
    Ad Astra
    Aladdin
    Alita: Battle Angel
    Apollo 11
    Bait
    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
    Booksmart
    Cats
    Doctor Sleep
    Dolemite is My Name
    The Farewell
    Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw
    Frozen II
    Gemini Man
    Godzilla: King of the Monsters
    Hellboy
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
    Hustlers
    It: Chapter Two
    Joker
    Jumanji: The Next Level
    The Kid Who Would Be King
    Klaus
    Knives Out
    Last Christmas
    Le Mans ’66
    The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
    The Lighthouse
    Little Women
    Marriage Story
    Men in Black: International
    Midsommar
    Parasite
    The Peanut Butter Falcon
    Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
    Rambo: Last Blood
    Rocketman
    A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
    Shazam!
    The Souvenir
    Spider-Man: Far from Home
    Terminator: Dark Fate
    The Two Popes
    Us
    The Wandering Earth
    Wild Rose
    X-Men: Dark Phoenix
    Yesterday
    Zombieland: Double Tap


    Whew, another year over!

    Time to do it all over again…

    2019 Statistics

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas — that’s well and truly over now, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not even really the new year anymore, it’s just the year now. This post is kinda late.

    No, by “most wonderful time of the year” I mean this — the day I publish my annual statistics post! As the guy who does the introductions to films at Odeon might say, “ooh, yeah, the statistics. I love the statistics. Specially chosen for this post, actually.” Except they’re not really specially chosen, I do the same ones every year. But then the trailers aren’t really specially chosen for the film, are they? That Odeon guy’s just a liar.

    Anyway, it’s time for the main event. So, turn off your phones, finish your conversations, and get ready — it’s about to begin…

    I watched 151 new feature films in 2019. That ranks 5th in the history of 100 Films — it’s the lowest of the past five years, but beats every one from 2007 to 2014. It’s 11% beyond 6th place (2014) and 15% short of 4th place (2017). And it’s down a massive 110 films (42%) on last year.

    I also watched one extended or altered cut of a feature I’d seen before — namely, Deadpool 2’s Super Duper $@%!#& Cut. (I know it’s only my own rules I’m butting up against, but I haven’t settled on a way to count alternate cuts like this now that I have my Rewatchathon. I mean, it’s not strictly a rewatch because it’s a different cut, but it’s also not a new film because it’s not that different to the version I’d already seen. Anyway, it’s included in the following graph, but I haven’t counted it towards the other stats.)

    As just alluded to, in 2019 I also undertook my Rewatchathon for the third year. My target was 50 films, but I only made it to 29. Still, that’s 29 more than I might’ve managed otherwise. Add all of those together and my overall total is 181 films. I’d love to tell you how that compares to previous years, but I’ve still not put together a proper history of rewatches for that comparison. Maybe I’ll finally get it sorted for 2020’s stats.

    I also watched 20 short films in 2019, which more than doubles the next nearest — second place is a tie between 2007 and 2018 with just eight each. As with the alternate cut, these only count towards one stat, which I’ll mention in a moment.

    So, the total running time of the 151 new films was 271 hours and 56 minutes. That’s down a whopping 41% on last year… but then the number of films I watched was down 42%, so fair enough. Add in the Deadpool 2 alternate cut and all those shorts and the total running time of my new 2019 viewing was 277 hours and 47 minutes — that’s just over 3½ hours of shorts, FYI. (Last year I said “maybe next year I’ll start counting my Rewatchathon here too”. I haven’t, obviously. Maybe next year…)

    Here’s how that viewing played out across the year, month by month. It’s a particularly interesting year to have this graph (I only added it for the first time in 2018’s stats), because my viewing patterns have been so variable. I imagine if a lot of people bothered to plot a graph like this they’d end up with a broadly flat line, because I’d presume they watch roughly the same amount of stuff (whether that’s a lot or a little) month in, month out. Or maybe they’d all be as variable as mine, I dunno. Either way, my one is anything but flat…

    Now, how I watched those films. Most people may be pivoting to streaming, and dedicated cinephiles of course see a lot on the big screen, but I still love my physical media. Nonetheless, for the fifth year in a row this year’s most prolific viewing format was streaming. I guess I’m one of those people too. Or not — I buy more than my fair share of Blu-rays, I just don’t get round to watching as many as I should. Anyway, streaming accounted for 49 films, or 32.5% of my viewing. The raw number is less than half what it was last year (109), but then I did watch 110 fewer films overall too. More interestingly, the percentage is also down significantly, continuing a trend that’s been going on for a few years now — it was 57% in 2016, 43.2% in 2017, 41.8% in 2018, and now just 32.5%. Maybe I’m bucking the trend after all.

    Those streaming numbers can be broken down across five services: Netflix, Amazon (a mix of Prime and paid-for rentals), Now TV (aka Sky Cinema), BBC iPlayer, and Rakuten. This year, it was Netflix in first place (it’s been Amazon the last two years) with 21 films (42.9% of streams). Mind, Amazon were close behind on 19 (38.8%). Way down in third was Now TV, with just five films (10.2%) — I only subscribe for a month so I can watch the Oscars, but I clearly didn’t get very good value for money this year (for comparison, last year I used it to watch 25 films). That said, keep reading to downloads for more on this… Rounding out the streamers were iPlayer with three (6.1%) and Rakuten with just one (2%).

    In second place was Blu-ray, represented by 34 films (22.5%). Sadly, that is also a much reduced percentage from last year (when it was 31.4%). As I said, I buy loads of the darn things, so I should do better here.

    So, where are those percentage points going? Well, in third we find downloads, with 22 films (14.6%). In real terms that’s a drop from last year (when it was 25), but if we compare percentages it’s up by around 50%. See, statistics are fun, aren’t they? (Although Now TV only gets credited with five films, a few download viewings were, shall we say, morally justified by their presence on Now TV… by which I mean I acquired better-quality copies than Now TV’s outdated 720p and watched those instead, but it’s okay because I’d paid for those films via a Now TV subscription.)

    Close behind is TV, on 20 films (13.2%) — again, a drop in real terms but a rise in percentage. Still, nowhere near where it once was — check out the drop since 2010 in this graph.

    In fifth place is cinema, whose lowly position masks something of an achievement: it’s the most cinema visits I’ve made in one year since this blog began. My total was 19 films (12.6%), besting 2017’s tally by just one. It’s also the only format number that’s bigger than last year. Mostly it’s thanks to FilmBath Festival — without that, it’d only be eight (mind you, that would still be more than most years of this blog’s life — only 4 out of 12 other years would be higher.)

    Finally, in sixth and last place, is DVD. Oh, poor DVD. Some people still love you, but the industry’s failure to get Blu-ray to catch on is a rant for another day. Anyway, this year I watched seven films (4.6%) on digital versatile disc, which is its lowest number since 2012. It’s impressive it’s still toddling on at all, really, but sometimes it’s easier just to watch the DVD I already have than source an HD copy.

    In amongst all that, I watched seven films in 3D (4.6%), down 11 from last year (which was up 11 from the year before!), and 15 in 4K UHD (9.9%), up just one from last year. Considering I own a 3D-capable 4K TV, their combined percentage of 14.6% is a bit disappointing — especially as I didn’t have a UHD Blu-ray player last year, so that new bit of kit has made very little net impact. Though, again, it depends how you do your comparison: going from 14 to 15 may not be much, but as a percentage of my viewing UHD has increased from 5.4% to that 9.9%.

    So, with that said, how did my viewing split up in terms of UHD vs. HD vs. SD? Contributing to the UHD number is a cocktail of Blu-ray discs, streams, and downloads. For HD, it’s the same mix, plus cinema trips (you’d think big cinema screens would be keen to go for 4K instead of 2K, but nope — apparently there are shockingly few 4K cinemas out there). And in SD, well, it’s of course a similar blend again, but with DVDs instead of BDs. The final result is 112 films in HD (74.2%). Add the aforementioned 15 (9.9%) in UHD and I’ve got a total of 84.1% in HD formats. That’s down a bit from last year, which nearly hit 90% HD, but hey-ho.

    Picture quality shouldn’t really be an indicator of the age of films I watched — old films can be HD too, of course (is everyone aware of this by now? I had to explain to someone once how even silent films could be HD. But, in fairness, they weren’t the kind of person who’s likely to be reading a film blog). Nonetheless, my viewing did skew newer, as usual: the most popular decade was the 2010s, with 90 films. That’s 59.6% of my viewing, a higher percentage than last year, but not as high as the year before that. The 2010s have been my highest decade ever year since 2012 — now it’ll be interesting to see how soon the 2020s take over.

    The 2000s have come second since 2012 too… but not this year! Thanks primarily to Quentin Tarantino’s Swinging Sixties Move Marathon, in 2019 second place went to the 1960s (obviously). It’s a distant second, mind, with just 13 films (8.6%). In fact, only seven of the ten films in QT’s marathon were from the ’60s themselves, but without those it would be much lower in the rankings.

    So, the 2000s are pushed into third, with 11 films (7.3%). In fourth we find the 1970s with nine (5.96%), also helped slightly by the Tarantino marathon (though, in this case, only by one extra film). It’s back to the ’90s for fifth, with eight (5.3%), followed closely by the ’50s on seven (4.6%), including the final two films from the “sixties” marathon.

    Rounding things out, the 1920s and ’40s had four (2.6%) apiece; the ’80s is uncommonly low on just three (1.99%); and finally there’s the oldest decade for this year, the 1920s, with two (1.3%).

    From “when” to “where” — countries of production. And it’s another “business as usual” situation, because once again the USA dominated with a hand in 113 films (74.8%, which is up a couple of points from last year). Also as usual, second place belongs to the UK, with 35 films (23.2%, also an increase from last year). Also in double figures were France (16 films, 10.6%), Japan (14 films, 9.3%), and Germany (10 films, 6.6%). In all, 28 countries were involved in the production of at least one film. That’s a marginally lower number than it’s been the last few years, but I also watched a much lower total of films, so it’s not too bad overall.

    You might think less variety in countries would mean less variety in languages spoken, but not so. Now, English was still thoroughly dominant, being spoken in 128 films — but that works out as 84.8%, the lowest it’s ever been. In second place for the third year in a row was Japanese, its tally of 13 films being the only other language to make double figures this year. Although it totals fewer films than last year, its percentage of 8.6% is similar. In total, there were 24 languages, plus four silent films. American Sign Language cropped up in one film, as it seems to every year, while other more unusual (for my viewing) languages included Burmese, Mixtec, and Punjabi.

    A total of 134 directors plus 10 directing partnerships appear on 2019’s main list. Only six of those were responsible for multiple films, the lowest that figure’s been since 2012. Most prolific of these was Kenji Misumi with three, all Zatoichi films. The other five directors, with two apiece, were Bill Condon, Alfred Hitchcock, Phil Karlson (both from Tarantino’s sixties marathon), Fritz Lang (arguably — some would say Dr Mabuse, der Spieler is a single film), and Kimiyoshi Yasuda (also both Zatoichi films).

    For the past few years I’ve charted the number of female directors whose work I’ve watched. There were ten female directors represented among 2019’s feature film viewing — seven as sole director, three as part of a directing partnership with a bloke. Counting the co-directors as half a film each, this represents 5.63% of my viewing — better than last year (which was better than the two years before it), but, as this graph ably demonstrates, still a disappointingly low figure. I mean, I watched more films directing by someone called “John”.

    At the time of writing, 12 films from 2019’s list appear on the IMDb Top 250 (or “Top Rated Movies: Top 250 as rated by IMDb Users”, as it’s less-catchily technically known nowadays). However, because that list is ever-changing, the number I have left to see has only gone down by four, to 45. The current positions of this year’s checks range from 22nd (Life is Beautiful) to 225th (The Red Shoes).

    At the end of my annual “top ten” post I always include a list of 50 notable films I missed from that year’s releases, and continue to track my progress at watching those ‘misses’. For the past few years I’ve managed to watch some more from every one of these lists, but I let that slip in 2019. The overall number I watched dropped too, totalling 37 (the lowest it’s been since 2014, when obviously there were fewer films to choose from). Well, that’s the kind of year it’s been. Anyway, the ones I did watch included two each from 2008, 2012, and 2016; and one each from 2010, 2011, and 2017.

    Finally, in the first year of watching 2018’s 50, I saw 28 of them. That’s no record, but it’s still over 50% (to be precise, 56%), so I can’t complain.

    In total, I’ve now seen 422 out of 600 of those ‘missed’ movies. That’s 70.3%, up a teeny tiny amount from last year’s 70.0%. If I don’t pick up the pace again next year, I may be looking at a percentage drop. (As ever, the 50 for 2019 will be listed in my “best & worst” post.)

    And lo, just like that, we’re coming to the end. To conclude 2019’s statistics, it’s the climax of every review: the scores.

    As always, this includes every film, meaning some don’t have published reviews yet — and, therefore, some I was still mulling over my exact score for; the kind of films I’d happily award 3.5 or 4.5 on Letterboxd, but which here I always round up or down to a whole star. Maybe I should start giving half stars. (I feel like I say that every year…) Anyway, I’ve had to go ahead and pick a rating for everything to get this part of the stats done, and maybe I’ve been too generous in places, or too harsh in others. We shouldn’t really take such a simplistic rating system too seriously, anyway (he says, as he goes on to make it the final thing in this post as if it’s a definitive statement on the quality of the films I saw this year…)

    Barrelling on regardless: at the top end of the spectrum, this year I awarded 25 five-star ratings, which means I have 16.6% of films full marks. That’s a slightly higher percentage than last year, but lower than the year before that, but higher than the year before that, but lower than the year before that… and so on. In other words, I’ve not suddenly got harsher or more generous, or suddenly watched a lot more or lot fewer good films.

    Indeed, it was also business as usual with the score I handed out most often: four-stars, which I awarded to 62 films. Out of 13 years of this blog, four-stars has been my highest-scoring score 12 times (the exception is 2012, which saw more three-star films). That said, at 41.1% it’s the lowest percentage of four-stars-ers since 2013. That loss was spread out across the rest of the board, with slightly higher than normal percentages for the remaining three ratings. For example, there were 46 three-star films, which at 30.5% is its third highest ever percentage.

    Fortunately, the “bad” end of the scores continue to bring up the rear, with 15 two-star films (9.9%) and three films meriting just one-star (1.99%). That’s technically the highest percentage of one-star films since 2012, but as the other intervening years range between 0.7% and 1.5%, I don’t think it’s a cause for concern. It’s barely even cause for comment.

    Finally, that brings us to the average score — the single figure that arguably asserts 2019’s quality compared to other years. The short version is 3.6 out of 5, the first time it’s been below 3.7 since 2013. In fact, if we go to three decimal places, it comes out as 3.604, which is the second lowest ever (beaten by 2012’s exceptionally poor 3.352). Now, it doesn’t feel like I’ve had particularly poor viewing this year — indeed, I was worried I was handing out five-star ratings too easily at one point — so it’s something of a surprise to find it so low. But maybe I’m just getting more discerning. I mean, it’s not a sharp drop (unlike that 2012 anomaly), more a slight decline.

    And that’s the statistics over for another year, I’m afraid. But if you’re a junkie like me and still after more, check out my Letterboxd 2019 stats — that site tracks different stuff (like directors and actors), and includes different films (i.e. my Rewatchathon viewing, plus a few TV things), so it’s a bit different. That’s exciting, eh?


    If you thought it was getting a bit far into 2020 to still be thinking about 2019, oh ho ho, no! Still to come: my picks for the best and worst of my viewing from last year.

    2019: The Full List

    Here we are once again, dear readers: another year over, another long list of films.

    The final tally of new feature films I saw in 2019 is 151. Throw in an alternate cut and my Rewatchathon, and the overall total is 181. That’s not a patch on the 311 I got to last year (it’s 42% less, in fact) but it’s not bad in itself. Indeed, getting to #151 makes 2019 my 5th highest year ever, and is higher than anything before 2015 — five years ago, I would’ve considered it a wonder.

    More analysis along those lines when I get to my stats post. For now, here are some nice long lists…


    • As It Happened — 2019’s monthly updates, containing a chronological list.
    • The List — an alphabetical list of every new film I watched in 2019.
    • Television — an alphabetical list of every TV programme I reviewed in 2019.
    • Next Time — there’s more analysis of last year still to come…

    Below is a graphical representation of my 2019 viewing, month by month. Each image links to the relevant monthly review, with a chronologically numbered list of everything I watched this year. There’s other exciting stuff in there too, like my monthly Arbie awards and what I watched in my Rewatchathon.

    The main thing you can interpret from these is how much the number of films I was watching dropped and fluctuated in the second half of the year…












    And now, the main event…


    An alphabetical list of all the new-to-me films I watched in 2019, followed by the sundries I also watched (alternate cuts, shorts, etc). Where I’ve already reviewed a film, there’s a link. In the past, not-yet-reviewed titles linked to my “coming soon” page, but as there are so many of those now I decided they’d be better left link-less.

    Alternate Cuts
    The 100 Films Guide To…
    Shorts
    1941

    BlacKkKlansman

    Captain Marvel

    Deadwood: The Movie

    Dr Mabuse, der Spieler

    Eyes Wide Shut

    The Favourite

    Godzilla

    Green Book

    Hereditary

    Isle of Dogs

    Jojo Rabbit

    The Meg

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    The Red Shoes

    Scott Pilgrim vs the World

    Sherlock, Jr.

    The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

    Waltz with Bashir

    Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo

    Deadpool 2: Super Duper $@%!#& Cut

    The Matrix Reloaded

    Battle at Big Rock

    La jetée

    Pleased to Eat You!

    .

    This year I reviewed many and various television programmes across a dozen(ish) monthly columns. It would be pretty meaningless just to list those roundups, so instead here’s an alphabetical breakdown of what they covered, with appropriate links.


    Always the highlight of the year: it’s the statistics.

    My Most-Read Posts of 2019

    2019 may’ve given us the highest grossing film of all time, amongst numerous other big events, but TV reviews once again dominate my most-viewed posts of the year — in the rankings of new posts, there’s no film until 8th (if we widen that to include older posts, it’s all TV until 14th).

    But this is still theoretically a film blog, so — as usual — I’ve compiled my five most-read TV posts (which, obviously, is the same as my outright five most-read posts) and then my five most-read film reviews.

    My Top 5 Most-Viewed New TV Posts in 2019

    5) The Past Month on TV #45
    including Game of Thrones season 8 episodes 1-2, Thronecast specials and series 8 episodes 1-2, Deadwood season 3, and The Twilight Zone ‘best of’ selection 2.

    4) The Past Month on TV #43
    including The Punisher season 2, Russian Doll season 1, Hanna episode 1, Les Misérables episodes 4-6, the 91st Academy Awards, the British Academy Film Awards 2019, Great News season 2 episodes 8-13, and Mark Kermode’s Oscar Winners: A Secrets of Cinema Special.

    3) The Past Christmas on TV 2018
    including Doctor Who: Resolution, The ABC Murders, Watership Down, Not Going Out: Ding Dong Merrily on Live, Upstart Crow Christmas special, Click & Collect, Goodness Gracious Me: 20 Years Innit!, Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You, Insert Name Here, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Simon Callow’s A Christmas Carol, The Dead Room, Mark Kermode’s Christmas Cinema Secrets, and Les Misérables episode 1.

    2) The Past Fortnight on TV #46
    This attracted almost three times as many views as the post in 3rd (that graph in the header image is accurate — the top two were out well ahead of everything else). What attracted such attention? Nothing less than the final season of the biggest TV show of the decade: Game of Thrones. This post included Game of Thrones season 8 episodes 3-4, Ghosts series 1 episodes 1-3, Columbo: Murder by the Book, The Twilight Zone ‘best of’ selection 3, Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema: Disaster Movies, and Thronecast series 8 episodes 3-4.

    1) The Past Fortnight on TV #47
    My comments about IMDb voters of the Game of Thrones finale attracted some degree of ire, which helps lead this one to first place. In fact, it’s already my 4th most-viewed post of all time. It only included Game of Thrones season 8 episodes 5-6, The Twilight Zone ‘best of’ selection 4, Eurovision 2019, and Thronecast series 8 episodes 5-7.

    My Top 5 Most-Viewed New Film Posts in 2019

    5) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
    Jumping in here in the final days of the year, the much-anticipated conclusion of the 42-year nine-film Skywalker Saga. Shame it was such a load of rubbish.

    4) The Highwaymen
    Netflix films often do well in these rankings, especially if I review them promptly, and that applies to both this and the film in 3rd. There were also Netflix films in 6th, 8th, and 9th places, and a Sky Cinema debut in 7th.

    3) The Silence
    Mind, there are better Netflix films people could’ve chosen to read about than this.

    2) Glass
    That said, a promptly-reviewed big theatrical release can top even Netflix titles, as these next two show. Alternatively, they say something about the continued dominance of superhero movies.

    1) Avengers: Endgame
    Well, it is the biggest film of all time.

    The Whimper-Not-a-Bang Monthly Review of December 2019

    Happy New Year, dear readers. In fact, Happy New Decade!

    Well, kinda. Yeah, sure, technically it isn’t, but when people talk about “the 2010s” they’re going to mean “2010–2019” and when they talk about “the 2020s” they’re going to mean “2020–2029”, so…

    Anyway, as usual I’m going to spend the first week (give or take) of this new year looking back at the old one. I already started that in my Christmas Day post — which contained the kind of thing I’d normally be writing about here, so now might be an appropriate time to read that if you haven’t already.

    Otherwise, onwards to my final monthly review of the decade…


    #147 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
    #148 Eighth Grade (2018)
    #149 Brightburn (2019)
    #150 Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar (2019)
    #151 Death on the Nile (1978)


    • So, I watched five new feature films in December.
    • The last of those came on New Year’s Eve, granting December a last-minute reprieve from being in my bottom 10% of months ever, and also from being one of my lowest months of 2019. Instead, that (dis)honour is shared by June and October.
    • 2019 was the first year since 2014 that any month tallied fewer than 10 films — and, with December now included among them, in total there were five such months.
    • That finalises the monthly average for 2019 as 12.58, which obviously December was well below.
    • It was also below the rolling average for the last 12 months (previously 13.3, now… 12.6, of course), and the average for December itself (previously 11.7, now 11.2).
    • There’ll be more on where this puts 2019 in relation to previous years in my annual statistics post, later in the week.
    • Nothing from Blindspot nor WDYMYHS again this month, meaning I got nowhere near completing either. Oh dear. But I did watch 17 films between the two this year, which is a better result than if I’d only been doing one of those challenges, so that’s good.
    • From last month’s “failures” I watched Brightburn and Eighth Grade.



    The 55th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    Well, this is easy-peasy. Of the five films I watched, four scored 3 stars. The other was Eighth Grade, which gets a full 5.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    I watched some distinctly middle-of-the-road films this month, but plain old mediocrity is nothing in the face of the disappointment that was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    I only made four posts in December, and only one of those was an opening-weekend review of a highly-anticipated, much-talked-about final film in a 42-year-old ultra-popular franchise, so it should surprise no one that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the victor here.



    I’d’ve had to rewatch 24 films in December to reach my goal of 50 for 2019. No surprise, that didn’t happen. But I did watch a few, at least.

    #27 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Extended Edition (2001/2002)
    #28 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Extended Edition (2002/2003)
    #29 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Edition (2003/2004)

    That’s the first time I’ve watched The Lord of the Rings since I started doing Rewatchathons. They’re still great.

    And so my 2019 Rewatchathon ends on #29 — far lower than intended, but it’s better than 0, and that’s really the point.


    The streamers seem to have gone absolutely bloody mental with new additions this month — Netflix could boast 87 additions yesterday alone, while literally thousands of films poured onto Amazon’s Prime Video across the month… at least according to the site I use to track it. In reality, a lot of the stuff that picked up as ‘new’ was already available (for some reason it seems much harder to track what’s new on Amazon than Netflix). Whatever — I didn’t watch any of them, so everything worthy of note pops up down here in my failures.

    But before I get onto rattling off those titles, some comparatively short lists. Like for the cinema, where I missed what’s supposed to be one of the best films of the year, and another that’s supposed to be one of the worst. Those are Little Women and Cats, respectively. One I’ll surely pounce on when it hits disc is sequel/threequel/fourquel (depending how you want to count it) Jumanji: The Next Level, which is hopefully a bit of fun (I’ve not really read any reviews of that one).

    Speaking of discs, a mix of new purchases and Christmas presents bulked out my to-watch list this month. The single biggest addition was Criterion’s Godzilla box set, with its 15 giant monster movies. I also got my mitts on their release of the Koker trilogy. Further catalogue additions came via Master of Cinema’s release of A Fistful of Dynamite and Arrow’s of The Exorcist III, while newer titles included Anna and the Apocalypse, Happy Death Day 2U, and Men in Black: International (it was on offer). This month’s discs were rounded out by a trio of rewatchers: Toy Story 4 (in 3D!), Deadwood: The Movie (without the much-desired deleted scenes), and miniseries From the Earth to the Moon (in its controversial HD restoration).

    So, we return to Netflix and Amazon. The former had a few high-profile originals this month: possible awards contenders Marriage Story and The Two Popes, plus Michael Bay’s latest, 6 Underground. Some other 2019 releases I’ve yet to see elsewise also cropped up, including the new Hellboy, Missing Link, Mrs. Lowry & Son, Fighting with My Family, A Private War, and Mid90s. Amazon didn’t have any brand-new titles to brag about, but they did have some similarly recent acquisitions, including Wild Rose, Fisherman’s Friends, and Horrible Histories: The Movie. As for older titles popping up… well, there were many, but select ones of note across both services included Roman J. Israel, Esq. (with its Oscar-nominated turn from Denzel Washington), The Rover, The Breadwinner (moving from Amazon to Netflix), the original Benji, Blackfish, Young Mr. Lincoln, and The Great Escape (that’s right, I’ve never seen The Great Escape).

    I’m gonna need to start watching considerably more films again to even touch the sides of that lot.


    After I’ve done my usual array of posts analysing 2019, it’ll be on to 2020 — my 14th year. And it’s entirely possible it’ll be the year I reach #2000…

    The Festive Monthly Review of November 2019

    Regular readers will no doubt have cottoned on to the fact this year has been rather turbulent in my life away from the blogosphere — nothing terrible or tragic, thank goodness, but time- and attention-consuming nonetheless. Well, it’s hopefully the (beginning of the) end for that now, as November ends and December begins with me finally moving into a new permanent home.

    I know people have “moving day”, but geez, it’s a process, isn’t it? One I’m in the middle of — and has affected my blogging once again at the end of November, as I missed another TV review (which would’ve covered the likes of His Dark Materials, Watchmen, The Mandalorian (even though I’m in the UK), and the BBC’s long-awaited take on War of the Worlds), and didn’t post reviews of major new releases like The Irishman and The Report (both of which I’ve seen, neither of which I’ve had time to write about in full).

    My film viewing has suffered once again as well. I’m way behind on both Blindspot and WDYMYHS, not to mention various new releases — not only on the big screen but also stuff I missed earlier in the year that’s now on disc / streaming.

    On the bright side, earlier in November was the 2019 FilmBath Festival, and that’s almost single-handedly responsible for this being my highest-totalling month since the summer.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself slightly. Here are the films I watched last month…


    #135 The Report (2019)
    #136 The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019)
    #137 Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), aka Portrait de la jeune fille en feu
    #138 Little Monsters (2019)
    #139 Harriet (2019)
    #140 La Belle Époque (2019)
    #140a My Theatre (2019)
    #141 Filmfarsi (2019)
    #141a Terra (2019)
    #141b Spooning (2019)
    #142 And Then We Danced (2019)
    #142a Woman in Stall (2018)
    #143 Judy & Punch (2019)
    #144 Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019)
    #145 Jojo Rabbit (2019)
    #145a Hey You (2019)
    #145b Gladiators on Wheels (2019)
    #145c Tight Spot (2018)
    #145d When Voices Unite (2017)
    #145e Facing It (2018)
    #146 The Irishman (2019)


    • So, I watched 12 new feature films in November.
    • I also watched 9 short films, which is more than I’ve seen in entire years before now.
    • The latter were all thanks to FilmBath Festival, as were 92% of the features — as I said at the start, it almost single-handedly rescued this month from being another disappointment.
    • Talking of disappointment, I didn’t watch any of last month’s “failures” either.
    • Comparisons of averages are hardly “not disappointing”, but they’re also not a total disaster. 12 is above the November average (previously 10.3, now 10.4), though it is slightly below the average for 2019 to date, which even with all those ‘bad’ months was still 13.4. It’s now 13.3, and the rolling average of the last 12 months also comes down to the same (it was previously 14.4).
    • One final positive worth mentioning: I passed #137 this month, which puts 2019 into my top five highest-totalling years. So much for all those “terrible” months, eh? Getting any higher than 5th place is unlikely, because for that I’d have to watch 29 films in December… but I have watched more than that in a single month on a handful of previous occasions — so, literally speaking, it’s not impossible.



    The 54th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    It’s a closely-fought field this month, with about four 5-star films and a couple of highly likeable 4-star-ers too. For the surprise factor — because I hoped I’d like it but ended up absolutely loving it — I’m going to give this to La Belle Époque, but I fully expect a certain other French film to end up above it in my end-of-year rankings.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    I hate to dunk on what’s probably the smallest, most obscure, least-likely-to-get-seen-anyway (feature) film I saw this month, but I’m afraid to say this has to be Filmfarsi. It’s not that I thought it was bad, just a bit rough around the edges, for various reasons. But if its subject sounds interesting to you, I’d still encourage you to see it if you can.

    Favourite Short Film of the Month
    Last month I watched so many short films that I gave them a category. This month I watched almost twice as many, so it’s back. There are several great ones among the nine I watched, but for being an incredibly impressive technical achievement — all in aid of conveying real emotions and experiences, not showing off for the sake of it — my pick is Facing It.

    Best Film Festival of the Month
    Okay, I only attended one film festival this month, and I may be a little biased, but FilmBath was a great experience — a nice atmosphere and I saw some fantastic films.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    Two posts were closely vying for this award in November, but in the end… it was a tie! I’m not sure I’ve ever had a tie in this category before. (There are 53 previous editions of these awards and I can’t be bothered to check them all right now, sorry.) So the joint winners were my coverage of FilmBath Festival’s opening night and my review of Judy & Punch. (If you really wanted to break the tie, the latter was online for 8 days vs the former’s 23, so therefore amassed a higher average of views per day.)



    We begin this month with a Rewatchathon first: a rewatched short.

    #24a Pleased to Eat You! (2019)
    #25 What We Did on Our Holiday (2014)
    #26 Easy Virtue (2008)

    I first saw Pleased to Eat You last month as part of the prep for FilmBath Festival, then saw it again before the screening of Little Monsters. It merits revisiting, though, because it’s such great fun.

    As for the two features rewatched, they’re both movies I feel have been somewhat undervalued. My original reviews of both are linked above, as always. Sometimes I re-read old reviews and am pleasantly surprised by the quality of my own writing (which sounds rather smug and self-gratifying, but I’m talking about very old reviews re-read with some distance, not going back over something I just wrote, which I think makes it different). Sometimes, however, I’m less impressed (which hopefully shows I’m not simply uncritical of my own work). Unfortunately, my review of Easy Virtue from 2011 is one of the underwhelming ones. I stand by its sentiment, but I don’t think I expressed that sentiment very well.

    My piece about What We Did on Our Holiday is better, though still not totally clear. I also think it’s a film that improves with rewatching — any faults fade into the background behind the bits that are hilarious, heartfelt, humanist, and sometimes quite beautiful.


    Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty to mention here — more than normal, in fact. I say that because there are usually three or four cinema releases I name, but November brought loads. From high-profile releases such as Frozen II, Knives Out, Last Christmas, and Le Mans ’66 (that’s Ford v Ferrari to some of you); to films that were surprises, either because they were hits, or flopped, or provoked controversy, or just seemed to come out of nowhere, like Midway, The Good Liar, Charlie’s Angels, and Blue Story (you can match up which of those is which); to smaller releases of note, like The Nightingale (the new one from Jennifer “The Babadook” Kent) and Greener Grass; to ones that probably fit into one or more of those other categories, though I’m not sure which, like The Aeronauts and 21 Bridges. Sure, some of those are films I never would’ve made the effort to see in the cinema anyway, but they’re all ones I’ll look out for in the future nonetheless.

    It was also an uncommonly productive month for Netflix — they release new series all the damn time nowadays, but it feels like their original films that are worthy of note congregate at the end of the year. As well as the obvious one (see #146) there was The King, Earthquake Bird, and Christmas movie Klaus (which I’ve saved for December, because duh). Talking of the incoming season, there were a bunch more tacky-looking Christmas originals, foremost among which is surely The Knight Before Christmas — a film where they definitely came up with the title first and worked backwards. It looks and sounds terrible, obviously, and yet there’s something about its reputed awfulness (and that marvellous pun) that’s tempting me to watch it… Back on the sensible end of the spectrum, festival winners like Atlantics and I Lost My Body also popped on in the last couple of days.

    Also added in the past month was Dragon Ball Super: Broly. That’s a franchise that’s never otherwise interested me, but I’m tempted to see what all the fuss was about for this particular entry: it was the highest-grossing anime film of 2018 and one of the highest of all time, including in the UK, where it became the second highest-grossing anime ever (behind only Spirited Away) and an advance screening sold out in just 23 seconds. Is its success thanks to a dedicated fanbase and limited number of screenings, or is it actually something special? There’s one way to find out… Lastly on Netflix, not a film but a series about films: The Movies That Made Us, a spin-off from their successful series about toys that, as far as I can tell, basically trades in ’80s nostalgia. Of course, the making of movies is a lot better documented than the making of toys, so whether it has anything new to say about the likes of Die Hard or Ghostbusters seems doubtful.

    Amazon didn’t have too many originals to offer — or perhaps any, besides one (see #135). But there were a few catalogue additions I want to see, like Magic Mike and Umberto D (not two films you’d normally see mentioned side-by-side…), and a few oddities that caught my eye, among them Tsui Hark’s directorial debut, Butterfly Murders, and Too Late, which is billed as “a sexy, smart noir detective thriller… told in non-linear fashion, in a series of five true long takes… with stunning 35mm cinematography.” They also say the latter is “a cinephile’s dream” and, yeah, it does sound a bit like that. They also have a bunch of reduced price rentals for Prime members, in which I recently hoovered up Missing Link, Booksmart, Brightburn, and Eighth Grade — now I’ve just got to make sure to make time for them before the rentals expire.

    Finally, there’s the new stuff I bought on disc, like Apollo 11 in 4K, and in 3D Spider-Man: Far from Home, Aladdin, and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (the latter two only thanks to sale prices). Then there were new catalogue releases, like Masters of Cinema editions of The African Queen and Der Golem, and Arrow’s release of RoboCop; a sale purchase of Candymen: Farewell to the Flesh (I enjoyed the first one a lot so figured this sequel was worth a punt); and the HD box set of Batman Beyond… which, for its UK release, replaced the Blu-ray disc of spin-off movie Return of the Joker with a censored DVD copy. WTF, Warner?

    And all that without even dipping into any Black Friday deals! Which, actually, are mostly still ongoing. Hmm…


    It’s been a very up and down kind of year here at 100 Films — will December end it on another higher, or in another dip? There’s only one place to find out: right here, in 31 days’ time.

    (Unless I also mention it on Twitter.)

    (Or Instagram.)

    (Or Letterboxd.)

    (So… yeah.)

    The Fluctuant Monthly Review of October 2019

    October was very nearly my weakest month in almost a decade (9½ years, to be precise), saved from that fate at literally the last minute, as the story of what may very well be 100 Films’ most fluctuant year continues…


    #130a Fifteen (2018), aka Quince
    #130b Cumulus (2018)
    #130c Pleased to Eat You! (2019)
    #130d Special Delivery (2018)
    #130e Allan + Waspy (2019)
    #131 Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans (2019)
    #132 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two (2012)
    #133 For Sama (2019)
    #134 The Fear of God: 25 Years of “The Exorcist” (1998)


    • So, I watched four new feature films in October.
    • It was very nearly just three, until I watched that Mark Kermode Exorcist documentary (which was freshly added to BBC iPlayer for Halloween) late last night. And whether or not that counts as a film is debatable. (The one on iPlayer is an extended cut that Kermode calls the “festival cut” because it was only shown at film festivals, which I think means it’s a film, so it counts.)
    • As I said at the start, you’d have to go back 9½ years, to April 2010, to find another month with so few films.
    • But for four you only have to go back to June this year. Nonetheless, that means October is tied as the lowest-totalling month of 2019 (for now…)
    • Unsurprisingly, it’s not even close to any of the usual array of averages I mention, and so it brings them all down — taking October’s average from 14.0 to 13.2; the average for 2019 to date from 14.4 to 13.4; and the rolling average of the last 12 months from 15.4 to 14.4.
    • The run of shorts I watched at the start of the month almost doubles that tally for the year. It was a FilmBath thing, which also means there’ll be more next month.
    • Neither a Blindspot nor a WDYMYHS film this month, which leaves me with quite a few to catch up (seven in total) with just two months of the year left.
    • From last month’s “failures” I watched only Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (see Rewatchathon).



    The 53rd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    A film that, frankly, I might’ve overlooked were it not for most of the rest of the FilmBath office talking about how great it was, Channel 4’s hard-hitting war documentary For Sama.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    This is an even easier choice: of course it’s Breaking Dawn: Part Two.

    Favourite Short Film of the Month
    Sorry to recommend this when I don’t think it’s freely available to see anywhere, but Pleased to Eat You! is bloody brilliant. Look out for it. (If you’re in the area, FilmBath are screening it before Little Monsters.)

    Most Disappointing Non-Appearance of the Month
    Not meaning to spoil anything (it’s kinda shown in the trailer anyway), but the storyline of Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans involves amassing different iterations of the Titans from across the multiverse… but that doesn’t include the cast of the live-action version, Titans. Okay, it might’ve been hard to integrate them with the animation, plus they’d’ve had to actually get the cast together, but it still seemed like a missed opportunity.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    Even though I’ve been posting a lot less recently, my number of monthly hits has stayed within the same range — but, over the past few months, the number of unique visitors has started dropping a lot. This month, it dropped to its lowest level since June 2017. Well, fair enough. But what I find weird is that the ups and downs of both views & visitors have always been in sync before, so I don’t know why they’ve started separating. Anyway, this is meant to be about this month’s posts. Despite going up just 38 hours before October ended, the winner is this month’s TV column.



    Things aren’t looking any rosier down here. I should be at #41 by now, but instead all I’ve got is this…

    #24 Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018)

    My brief review (linked above) possibly doesn’t do justice to my feelings about this movie (i.e. I love it!) I mean, I didn’t even mention the guest voice cast, which has some superb cameos. Partly that’s to do with not ruining gags and surprises, I guess. Still, I feel I could’ve and should’ve done better on that one. I did include it on my best-of-year list, at least.


    No cinema trips this month, so I’ve missed a bunch of big releases, not least the super-discourse-provoking Joker; the third attempt at Terminator 3, Dark Fate; the inevitable flop Gemini Man (and it was showing in 3D HFR near me too, which I’m never likely to have a chance to see it in again); and the second Shaun the Sheep movie, Farmageddon.

    More big-screen misses resurfaced on disc this week, namely X-Men: Dark Phoenix (in 4K) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (in 3D). I also picked up a handful of Criterion titles in a Zoom sale (Do the Right Thing, The Magnificent Ambersons, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and Panique); a selection of Asian movies (re)released by Arrow (Oldboy, with Sympathy for Mr Vengeance and Lady Vengeance) and Eureka (King Hu’s The Fate of Lee Khan and three films with Sammo Hung (Eastern Condors, The Magnificent Butcher, and The Iron-Fisted Monk); I finally managed to get a great deal on the Spider-Man Legacy 4K set (containing Sam Raimi’s trilogy and Marc Webb’s duology); and I ended the month with Arrow’s new release of An American Werewolf in London, which made me glad I never got round to upgrading from DVD to the previous BD. (Whew! That’s quite a lot, really, isn’t it?)

    Finally, there were a few big name releases on streaming this month. Most discussed was probably Netflix’s Breaking Bad sequel, El Camino. Well, I’ve still not seen any of Breaking Bad, so it’ll be a long time before I watch that. Higher on my watch list are the new Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat, and Eddie Murphy true-story comedy Dolemite is My Name, which looks like a lot of fun. There was also In the Tall Grass, which I’ve heard mixed things about. Amazon had no brand-new additions to equal that lineup, but I did spot a few archive adds of interest, including Robin Williams sci-fi thriller The Final Cut, arthouse classic La Dolce Vita, and Liam Neeson’s latest revenge thriller Cold Pursuit.


    FilmBath Festival should guarantee a tally over ten films, as the rollercoaster of my 2019 monthly totals continues.

    Si vis pacem, para menstruum review Septembris MMXIX

    Crikey, is it really October already?! Where did September go?!

    Time always flies, and it certainly seems to have disappeared for me of late, making the past month a quiet-ish one for 100 Films. There were relatively few movies watched (though it was far from my worst month of the year) and even fewer reviews posted (including no TV column, for various reasons). Let’s take a more thorough look…

    (Before I begin, if you were wondering about the post’s title… well…)


    #123 The Red Shoes (1948)
    #124 Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler. Erster Teil: Der große Spieler. Ein Bild der Zeit. (1922), aka Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler. Part One: The Great Gambler. An Image of the Time.
    #125 Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler. Zweiter Teil: Inferno. Ein Spiel von Menschen unserer Zeit. (1922), aka Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler. Part Two: Inferno. A Game of People of Our Time.
    #126 Dollman (1991)
    #127 John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
    #127a Battle at Big Rock (2019)
    #128 Downton Abbey (2019)
    #129 Agatha and the Truth of Murder (2018)
    #130 Howards End (1992)
    The Red Shoes

    John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    .


    • So, I watched eight new feature films in September.
    • That’s the third time this year I’ve not reached my long-standing goal of at least ten films per month.
    • Naturally, therefore, it doesn’t measure up to any averages — not for September (previously 12.3, now 11.9), not for 2019 to date (previously 15.25, now 14.4), not for the last 12 months (previously 16.3, now 15.4).
    • This month’s Blindspot film: silent epic Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler — both parts. Well, I’d counted both as a single entry in my Blindspot list (even though I’ve counted them as two films in my tally), so I always intended to ensure they both fell within the same month. In the end, I watched them in a single (very long) sitting.
    • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Powell and Pressburger classic The Red Shoes. While I watched two films from Blindspot again (sort of), I’m still one behind on WDYMYHS.
    • From last month’s “failures” I watched… absolutely nothing. Oh dear.



    The 52nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    I watched a few well-regarded films this month that I too regarded well, but the most artistically accomplished of them all was surely The Red Shoes.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    There was nothing I disliked this month, but something has to bring up the rear. That dishonour goes to Agatha and the Truth of Murder, which is a passable Christie pastiche but somewhat marred by its low-budget TV-movie roots.

    Most Beautiful Film of the Month
    The Red Shoes has gorgeous Technicolor cinematography by a true master, Jack Cardiff; and John Wick: Chapter 3 went all out with its neon cityscapes and glass buildings, looking particularly resplendent in UHD; and Downton Abbey appeared to have been entirely shot at golden hour, with its glowing, nostalgic pictures… but of them all, I think I most appreciated the 4K restoration of Howards End. I didn’t even watch it in 4K, just 1080p on Netflix, but the richness of the colours still filtered down. One caveat, though: I watched it on my partner’s parents’ TV, which I’ve always felt errs somewhat too much towards reds. But even if that’s the case, it really paid off for here.

    Best Special Effect of the Month
    Battle at Big Rock boasted animatronic dinosaurs even on a TV budget (well, I suspect it wasn’t an average TV budget — probably more in the Game of Thrones ballpark on a per-minute basis), and John Wick must be littered with effects to make all those action scenes work (unless Keanu Reeves went around brutally slaughtering stuntmen), but I was most enamoured of a floating head in Dollman. It’s headline effects (making a real man doll-sized) are no great shakes, and the close-ups of the floating head were just closely-framed shots of a real person, but the wider shots employed a practical model head that was really rather good. Okay, the dinos were probably more effective overall, but I do miss the days when even low-budget efforts had decent practical props.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    It was a close run thing between the two new releases I watched this month, one a big-screen TV spin-off and the other a small-screen movie spin-off. In the end it was the latter, Jurassic World sequel bridger Battle at Big Rock, that emerged victorious.



    This is the best month for my Rewatchathon since May. That may not sound like much given the tallies for the last three months were zero, one, and zero, but… no, it really isn’t saying much: I only watched two. The chances of me reaching my goal of 50 this year are basically nonexistent. I don’t mean to be defeatist, but c’mon: to get there I’d need to average nine films per month for the rest of the year, and my average for the past four months is 0.75 films per month. S’not gonna happen, is it?

    Anyway, here’s the pair I (re)watched in September…

    #22 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
    #23 Hannibal (2001)

    Some Letterboxd thoughts on each are linked to above.


    Naturally with lesser viewing comes more misses. The cinema release I’d most meant to get round to was widely-praised Brad Pitt-starring sci-fi Ad Astra, which I still might make time for. Much less well received was Rambo: Last Blood. The poor reviews killed any thoughts I had of making a cinema trip for it, but I’ll catch it somewhere someday. The same could be said for It: Chapter Two — not about the reviews, but about watching it later. I don’t bother with horror on the big screen, but I enjoyed the first one a lot so I’ll definitely catch up with the second half.

    In terms of brand-new releases on streaming, Netflix’s In the Shadow of the Moon caught my eye. I don’t really know what it is or if it’s any good, but I’ve seen it listed as a neo-noir sci-fi thriller, which would be right up my alley. They also released Between Two Ferns: The Movie this month. I’ve never watched the series, but I’ve heard it talked about, so maybe I’ll see what the fuss is. As for more older things that’ve now found their way to streaming, Netflix offered the Taron Egerton-starring Robin Hood, which obviously went down poorly but I’ll still give a chance because I do enjoy those kind of films; London Fields, which also received bad notices but sounded interesting; and The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, which I have no idea about the quality of but is a helluva title. Over on Amazon’s Prime Video, recent-release additions include last-awards-season contenders Vice, Stan & Ollie, and If Beale Street Could Talk, and last-awards-season one-time hopeful On the Basis of Sex. I also noticed Dario Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet crop up there.

    The headline addition to my Blu-ray collection this month was the Apocalypse Now: Final Cut on UHD. I’m considering double-billing that with the theatrical cut, which I’ve never seen; the shorter version in 1080p and the new one in 4K, just to help emphasise the improvement for myself. Seems unlikely I’ll find the time for that, but we’ll see. I also picked up a few Indicator sale titles — namely, Age of Consent, Born of Fire, and Suddenly, Last Summer. From another sale, a few to be rewatches: an unexpected favourite from last year, Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, plus 3D versions of Life of Pi and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (I need to rewatch that whole trilogy). Finally, not really a film (though I believe a cutdown version was theatrically released in some territories), but I got the Blu-ray of 1980 miniseries Shogun for a steal. I’m currently reading the book though, and as that is 1,200 pages it’s going to be a while before I even think about starting the nine-hour miniseries.


    Some people spend all of October watching horror movies. I never have the appetite to be so monophagous, but I expect some’ll make it into next month’s listing. For one thing, I’m due to finally finish the Twilight saga…

    Once Upon a Time … in August 2019

    After a couple of months that looked like a throwback to the 100 Films of six years ago (i.e. 2013, the last time I had two consecutive months with five films or fewer), August’s tally looks more like the blog’s past few years. I can thank Quentin Tarantino for that: as you may be aware (especially if you’ve been following my review roundups this month), in advance of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood he programmed a series of ten related movies — and I watched all of them, meaning he single-handedly pushed me back up over the ten-film threshold.

    More on all that in a moment. As always, we begin with the list of my viewing…


    #104 Dumbo (2019)
    #105 The Favourite (2018)
    #106 Model Shop (1969)
    #107 Getting Straight (1970)
    #108 Arizona Raiders (1965)
    #109 Gunman’s Walk (1958)
    #110 Road to Zanzibar (1941)
    #111 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
    #112 Hammerhead (1968)
    #113 Cactus Flower (1969)
    #114 Easy Rider (1969)
    #115 The Wrecking Crew (1968)
    #116 Battle of the Coral Sea (1959)
    #117 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)
    #118 Zatoichi at Large (1972), aka Zatôichi goyôtabi
    #119 Viceroy’s House (2017)
    #120 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
    #121 Rififi (1955), aka Du rififi chez les hommes
    #122 Les diaboliques (1955), aka Diabolique
    Gunman's Walk

    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

    Rififi

    .


    • So, I watched 19 new feature films in August.
    • That marks something of a return to normal after a low-totalling June and July. Although, as I said at the start, Quentin Tarantino is mainly to thank for that: if he hadn’t programmed that series of films, this month’s total would be down at nine. (Of course, if I hadn’t been watching those films then I might’ve watched others; but it certainly wouldn’t‘ve been as many.)
    • But 19 it is, and that makes it my best August in over a decade. In fact, you have to go right back to 2007, this blog’s first year, to find one with a higher total.
    • It also provides a boost to all my flagging stats, beating and increasing the averages for August (previously 11.9, now 12.5), 2019 to date (previously 14.7, now 15.25), and the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 15.9, now 16.3).
    • This month’s viewing also included the 2,000th film listed on my reviews index… but as I haven’t posted 159 of those yet (egads!), I’m actually a long way off genuinely celebrating 2,000 reviews.
    • This month’s Blindspot films were a double-bill of exceptional French crime thrillers from 1955, Rififi and Les diaboliques. Watching two means I’ve caught up after missing one in June
    • …but I chose to watch another Blindspot at the expense of this month’s WDYMYHS film, so now I’m behind on that instead. Give with one hand, take away with the other, etc.
    • From last month’s “failures” I watched Dumbo (which was also an April failure), and that was it.



    The 51st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    Quite a few really good films this month, some of them expected (The Favourite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), others very pleasant surprises (Gunman’s Walk, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), but my pick of the bunch is French crime thriller Rififi. The famous half-hour dialogue-free heist scene lives up to its hype, but the rest of the movie is no slouch either.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    While I was watching and writing about that Tarantino marathon, it all felt a bit underwhelming. Reconsidered with hindsight, I did like most of what he scheduled, but it suffered overall because the lows were pretty darn low while the highs weren’t that high. One was my clear least-favourite, however, and that was The Wrecking Crew. As I wrote in my review, “this is the kind of mediocre imitation that gives you a new appreciation for even the worst Bond movies.”

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    It’s Tarantino again! Well, sort of. The four roundups I posted of his movie marathon topped this chart for most of the month, with the opening double-bill and the spy-fi selection duking it out for first place (the former won that local derby, by just one view). But such tussles were rendered meaningless when my 50th TV column came storming in (powered, no doubt, by its review of Peaky Blinders season four) to dominate all other new posts. (Though, in terms of all posts, it didn’t even crack the top 20.)



    Ohhh dear — I didn’t rewatch any films again. Having also watched none in June, and only one in July, that makes my average for the last quarter of the year 0.3 when it should be 4.2. Totted up, I’m 12 films behind schedule. There’s still four months of the year left, but if I make my goal of 50 I’ll be surprised — I’ll need to up that average from 0.3 to 7.3, a dizzying 24-fold increase.


    Despite redoubling my viewing efforts, I still had plenty of misses this month. On the big screen, major titles included actioners Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Show (to use its marginally-shortened UK title) and Angel Has Fallen. Also of note was a theatrical re-release of Apocalypse Now. Well, as it was the new “Final Cut”, you could argue it’s not technically a re-release. It’s also now out on disc in the US, and it was due in the UK too, but late in the day it was pushed back to next month. Hey-ho.

    Talking of discs, I picked up quite a few. New releases included Shazam (previously mentioned in April’s failures) and Indicator’s Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount set, which duplicates the six films contained in Criterion’s similar set from 2018, as well as Avengers: Endgame in 3D (which is out tomorrow but turned up yesterday). Plus, thanks to sales and/or discounts, I’ve now added Black Book, Black Hawk Down (in 4K), The Cooler, and, erm, Iron Sky: The Coming Race to my kevyip. Also, just dropping in at the last minute thanks to a brief price drop on Amazon Italy, the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films in HD — so that’s another 14 movies. Sometimes I feel I need more restraint (though I’ve had my eye on that Holmes set for ages. Waiting has its benefits).

    In fact, actually, there were several title of interest that made it to disc but I didn’t purchase: the new Hellboy (forgot to mention that whenever it was in cinemas!); the new Laika, Missing Link; the latest direct-to-video DC animation, Batman: Hush; and a rather spiffy new edition of In Bruges, which is limited and so I’m itching with worry that it’ll sell out before I allocate funds for it. But it’s looking like an expensive few months to come, with several big, limited, expensive box sets on my radar…

    Finally, streaming offered nothing new in the movie department, with the possible exception of The Crystal Calls — the making-of for Netflix’s new Dark Crystal TV series, but it’s feature length and listed as a “Netflix Film”, so why shouldn’t it count as a ‘proper’ movie? In terms of non-exclusive stuff coming onto the streamers, added to my Netflix radar were mother!, 3 Idiots (a Bollywood film that’s on the IMDb Top 250), and Shakespeare in Love (one of only two Best Picture winners from the last 30 years that I’ve not seen), while Amazon offered Lars von Trier’s latest, The House That Jack Built, and a film more noteworthy for its troubled production history than anything else (because apparently it’s not very good) Tulip Fever.

    That’s 39 films I’ve just listed, vs the 19 I actually watched. Really, there’s no hope…


    Well, I’m away (again!) for the first week, so it’s going to be a slow start. But maybe later I’ll manage to get both Blindspot and WDYMYHS back on track at the same time. That’d be nice.