The Puny Monthly Review of June 2019

All good things must come to an end, and so a half-decade-long streak has concluded… well, we now know said streak ended last month, but it was this month that actually put a stop to it.


#95 Deadwood (2019)
#96 Murder Mystery (2019)
#97 Untouchable (2011), aka Intouchables
#98 Shaft (2019)

(That poster was so pathetically small, I almost felt I shouldn’t bother… but then I wrote this note, meaning I could embiggen the image to go alongside here too, at which point it became much more satisfactory. Yay formatting!)

Deadwood: The Movie
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  • So, I only watched 4 new feature films in June.
  • On the downside, that ends a five-year streak of watching at least 10 films every month. (A streak that lasted exactly five years, by-the-way — I forgot to mention that last month.)
  • On the bright side, it means there’s some slightly different stuff to talk about in these stats. Like, for example, that June 2019 is the lowest-totalling month since June 2013, which was six whole years ago.
  • It’s the 150th month of 100 Films, by-the-by, but also the 15th with 4 or fewer films. That means it’s in the bottom 10% of all months, which is its own kind of achievement.
  • It takes the average for June down from 10.5 to 10.0, meaning it just keeps its head above the waterline for something I’ve been working on for a while now, i.e. getting every month’s average above 10. (The only remaining outlier is July, which is on 9.9, so that’ll be fun next month…)
  • It also takes the average for 2019 so far down from 18.8 to 16.3, and the rolling average of the last 12 months down from 19.3 to 17.8.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: true-story French comedy-drama Untouchable, aka Intouchables in its original language, aka The Intouchables in the US. It’s amusing and heartwarming, but its elevated position on lists like the IMDb Top 250 oversells it somewhat.
  • There’s no Blindspot film this month. If I hadn’t upped my goal to 12 films on both lists that’d be fine, but now I’ve got one to catch up.
  • I also watched nothing from last month’s “failures”, so I guess that makes them a double failure. Oh dear.



The 49th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Not much to choose from this month, obviously, so the belated TV movie revival/finale of Deadwood walks away with this one easily.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
It’s come in for a pasting from critics and box office figures alike, but I thought the new Shaft was passably entertaining, but as it’s fuelled by outdated gags and a buddy-movie tone that sits awkwardly with the franchise, it’s certainly the weakest of this meagre selection.

Ranking All the Shaft Films I’ve Seen
1) Shaft
2) Shaft
3) Shaft

Look, I’m Struggling To Think of Categories For This Because I Only Watched 4 Films This Month, Okay?
Er, I think that ‘award’ title just about covers it…

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Adam Sandler’s latest film generated Netflix’s biggest ever ‘opening weekend’ viewership this month, being watched by almost 31 million accounts over its first three days. So it’s no surprise to see Murder Mystery easily top this month’s list of my most-visited new posts — it had almost 15 times as many views as the post in second place.



Considering I couldn’t even keep up with my main list goals, it should come as no surprise that my Rewatchathon suffered — and suffered worse, too, as I didn’t rewatch a single film this month. Oh well.


In a month where I watched so little, it should come as no surprise that I failed to watch plenty of stuff in particular. On the big screen, I missed the finale for this iteration of the X-Men, Dark Phoenix, as well as attempted franchise revival Men in Black: International (based on the poor reviews, I expect said revival will be short-lived), and the seemingly-unnecessary but now acclaimed Toy Story 4. That last one looks like it’ll be playing for a while, so maybe I’ll catch it yet.

At home, a couple of things I missed at the cinema in February have now made it to disc, where I failed to watch them again — namely, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (which I bought) and The Kid Who Would Be King (which I didn’t, mainly because I couldn’t tell if its UK 4K release was actually happening or not (I suspect it’s not)). Other recent purchases fall into the Rewatchathon bracket: Glass, Annihilation, Schindler’s List, and the Mummy trilogy… although I never got round to seeing the third one, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, so, er, that’s not a rewatch.

Actually, between sales and limited edition new releases, I also added a bunch of older films to my unseen pile, including The Blood on Satan’s Claw; The Holy Mountain; John Woo’s Last Hurrah for Chivalry and Hand of Death; and Arrow box sets presenting trios of early Brian De Palma works (The Wedding Party, Greetings, and Hi, Mom!) and Jia Zhangke films (24 City, A Touch of Sin, and Mountains May Depart). I really ought to get on with watching some of them…


I’m away on holiday for half of next month, so, along with everything else going on, there’s a very real chance July will continue this fewer-than-10-films streak — though hopefully it won’t be as disastrous as July 2009

The Header-Image-Forthcoming Monthly Update for June 2018

I’ve been an unexpectedly busy bee today, so I’ve only just finished putting together June’s monthly progress report this evening, without yet embarking on the header image — which take a surprisingly long time to create, so I’ll do that tomorrow.

[Edit: That lasted for five hours (during which the front page looked like this, fact fans) before I finished the usual style of header image. Much prettier.]

Anyway, here’s all the exciting lists and facts and stuff:


#125 The Post (2017)
#126 Power Rangers (2017)
#127 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
#128 Superman II (1980)
#129 A Monster Calls (2016)
#130 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), aka Kaze no tani no Naushika
#131 Rocky II (1979)
#132 Shrek Forever After (2010)
#133 Doubt (2008)
#134 Gaslight (1944)
#135 Zatoichi’s Revenge (1965), aka Zatôichi nidan-giri
#136 The Florida Project (2017)
#137 A Thousand and One Nights (1969), aka Senya ichiya monogatari
#138 Rocky III (1982)
#139 Sanjuro (1962), aka Tsubaki Sanjûrô
#140 National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
#141 Swingers (1996)
#142 Amadeus: Director’s Cut (1984/2002)
#143 If You Meet Sartana… Pray for Your Death (1968), aka Se incontri Sartana prega per la tua morte
#144 Becoming Bond (2017)
#145 Dudes & Dragons (2015), aka Dragon Warriors
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A Monster Calls

Sanjuro

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  • I watched 21 new films this month. A step down from the last couple, but by any other measure a very good month indeed — that puts it in the top 10% of all months in 100 Films history. Some of those other measures follow…
  • For starters, it’s the best June ever, easily passing 2015’s 16 to become the first June with 20+ films. Only July, November, and December now haven’t had a 20+ month.
  • That’s the fifth month in a row with 20+ films, a new record. The previous best was four (obviously) from January to April 2016.
  • It also more than doubles the June average of 9.5, pulling it up to 10.5. That leaves just July and August with all-time averages below 10.
  • It passes the rolling average of the last 12 months too (previously 18.5, now 19.1), but not the average for 2018 to date (previously 24.8, now 24.2).
  • Plus, as mentioned last month, I watched a film on June 29th, leaving just half-a-dozen dates on which I’ve ‘never’ watched a film.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Hayao Miyazaki’s environmentalist sci-fi Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which I liked, but not as much as the thematically-similar Princess Mononoke.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: epic music biopic Amadeus, which, again, I liked, but not as much as everyone else seems to.
  • This month I finally achieved my first Platinum Award on iCheckMovies — that’s the level you get when you complete a list. The list in question was IMDb’s Sci-Fi one, which I finished off by watching Stalker last month and Nausicaa this month. That means I have now seen the 50 greatest sci-fi movies of all time… according to IMDb voters.
  • Because I don’t already have enough film series on the go, this month I added a couple more — namely, the Animerama trilogy and the Sartana series of spaghetti Westerns. Both came out on Blu-ray this month and I thought for once I ought to make an effort to actually watch stuff I was buying.



The 37th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Plenty of strong films this month, including multiple Best Picture nominees and winners, but my personal favourite was a sequel. Kneel before… no, not Zod (I’m afraid to say I found Superman II a disappointment), but Sanjuro, Akira Kurosawa’s entertaining follow-up to Yojimbo. (And if you want my pick of all those Best Pics, Three Billboards is a close runner-up for this category.)

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I’ve never been a fan of the Power Rangers franchise, but the reboot had some degree of promise with its Chronicle-esque setup. It doesn’t deliver, though: it takes too long for the superheroic-type stuff to turn up, and when it does it’s a cheesy cheap-CGI mess.

Most Initially Irritating But Then Surprisingly Addictive Song of the Month
This month’s comical earworms have included Rock Me Amadeus (sadly not included on Amadeus’s soundtrack) and Fanfare Ciocarlia’s version of the James Bond theme (which plays over Becoming Bond’s end credits). But the song I keep coming back to is Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame. It’s only two minutes long, which felt like forever when it played during Vacation’s opening credits, but now I can’t stop listening to it.

Best Title of the Month
I’ll come clean with you, dear reader: half the reason I bought Arrow’s Sartana box set was because the film’s titles are so good. If You Meet Sartana… Pray for Your Death is, literally, just the start.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
I guess I haven’t been the most interesting blogger this month: the hit count for June was my lowest since November, and some 23% less than the average for the rest of 2018. Ah well. However, one post that wasn’t so afflicted was this month’s winner, whose view count within the month is second only to Avengers: Infinity War’s straight-into-my-all-time-top-ten tally from April. Said winner was my 34th TV review, which covered The Americans season 6, a few midseason episodes of Westworld, a bit of Archer, and the Car Share finale. (In a very, very, very distant second place was The Snowman.)



This month: a superhero movie that’s a bit like James Bond, a spy actioner that wishes it was James Bond, and a James Bond that’s a bit like James Bond but many people wish was proper James Bond.

#21 Black Panther 3D (2018)
#22 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
#23 What We Did on Our Holiday (2014)
#24 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

I enjoyed Black Panther just as much on a rewatch. The 3D is quite mild, with only occasional moments or scenes that pop, but it was worth it for the scenes in the IMAX ratio, which often come with the appropriate grandeur. When they enter Wakanda for the first time and the image smoothly enlarges from 2.39:1 to 1.90:1… gorgeous.

Ghost Protocol remains a great action blockbuster. Previously I’d always thought the “different directors bring a different style” ethos of the M:I movies went out the window from M:i:III onwards, but, rewatching them all, I’m getting a much better feel for the stylistic differences between Abrams, Bird, and McQuarrie’s contributions. And talking of IMAX ratios on Blu-ray, I’m still cross at Bird for not including them here. The forthcoming Fallout will also have scenes with an expanded aspect ratio for IMAX screenings, and McQuarrie recently stated on Twitter that he intends for those to be retained on the Blu-ray. Fingers crossed.

Finally, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the first Bond film I’ve watched since seeing Spectre at the cinema, almost three years ago now! And the last one before that was a rewatch of Skyfall in February 2013, almost five-and-a-half years ago. Wow. Seems it’s long overdue that I reengage with a franchise that I love — and a Blu-ray boxset that’s 68% unwatched. In that respect, you could argue OHMSS resumes a chronological rewatch that I started in October 2012 and left off in January 2013, but I’m not sure five-and-a-half years counts as “a pause”, really.


“Your mission, should you choose to accept it — I wonder, did you ever choose not to?”

The Hum in the Drum Monthly Update for June 2017

There was so much hummable music in this month’s movies that I considered a music-related category for the Arbies then dropped it because I didn’t want to have to decide.

So I’ll leave it up to you what track you choose to listen to (I’m going with Mike Relm’s Baby Driver remix) while we reflect on the month that was…


#76 Space Jam (1996)
#77 The Muppet Movie (1979)
#78 Gran Torino (2008)
#79 Contact (1997)
#80 That’s Entertainment! (1974)
#81 Wonder Woman (2017)
#82 The Mummy (2017)
#83 Moonlight (2016)
#84 The LEGO Batman Movie 3D (2017)
#85 Moana 3D (2016)
#86 John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
#87 The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
#88 District 9 (2009)
#89 Baby Driver (2017)
#90 Transformers: Age of Extinction 3D (2014)
Contact

Baby Driver

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  • I watched 15 new films this month, exceeding the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 14.1, now 14.2) and equalling the average for 2017 to date (which was and is bang on 15).
  • At the halfway point of the year, I’ve reached #90, which suggests a final tally of 180. Of course (as I mentioned last month, actually), this time in 2015 I was also at #90 and eventually turned that into 200, while this time in 2016 I was way ahead at #115 but only turned that into 195. So… it’s basically meaningless, is what I’m saying.
  • At the risk of spoiling one of my year-end stats, The Mummy marked the most cinema trips I’ve made in a single year since 2008. And there’s half the year to go yet, with at least the same number of films again earmarked as must-sees.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Neill Blomkamp’s Oscar-nominated allegorical sci-fi actioner, District 9, which came to Netflix UK this week, I believe for the first time, but I didn’t get round to reviewing it.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Clint Eastwood’s retirement from acting (until it wasn’t) in Gran Torino, which I also haven’t reviewed yet.



The 25th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I haven’t got round to reviewing most of them yet so you wouldn’t know it, but there are a good number of favourite-able movies this month — at least five solid contenders for my year-end top ten, I’d say. But setting aside tales of alien instruction manuals, black boys looking blue, toy superheroes, and musical Polynesians (not to mention wonderful women and gun-toting boogeymen), for my favourite movie this month I have to pick Baby Driver.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Conversely, this was easy. Several movies this month may have underwhelmed me, either in themselves or compared to the hype, but the only one I outright hated was Space Jam.

Best Serious Drama About First Contact with Aliens of the Month
It’s taken me 20 years to see Contact and I loved it. I’m not sure if I would’ve loved it as much 20 years ago, mind, so maybe now was the right time.

The Silicon Valley Producers’ Favourite Movie of the Month
I wonder if Transformers: Age of Extinction is popular in the Silicon Valley writers’ room right now, considering it features T.J. Miller (spoiler alert!) suffering a horrible demise.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For the third time this award goes to the latest edition of The Past Month on TV, which covered the start of the new Twin Peaks, the “Monk trilogy” on Doctor Who, and more.



It was another good month for my Rewatchathon. I’m still behind where I should be (we’re halfway through the year, so that’d be at #26), but across the last two months I’ve averaged six rewatches a month — if I keep that up, all will be fine.

#16 Mamma Mia! (2008)
#17 John Wick (2014)
#18 Transformers (2007)
#19 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Big Screen Edition (2009)
#20 Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D (2011)

I didn’t intend to watch Mamma Mia, but the other half put it on and, while I still only half watched it, I paid more attention than I’d expected to. It’s a very daft movie, but it’s so deliberately silly and cheesy that I can’t help but find it amusing. I re-read my nine-year-old review and it pretty much still stands.

Rewatching the Bayformers films was interesting. I wrote a little about Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, and Dark of the Moon on Letterboxd if you’re interested, but in summary: I liked the first less than I remembered, enjoyed the second a surprising amount, and completely changed my opinion of the third. I technically watched a different cut of the second one (it’s all of 30 seconds longer), so I’ll probably include a little bit about that in a future review roundup.


Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever another Marvel Studios character can.

The Independent Monthly Update for June 2016

In? Out? Pretty sure “shake it all about” won the referendum.

(It was a toss up between a Brexit joke and a Game of Thrones one, and only one of those wouldn’t constitute spoilers. Well, depending on your definition of “spoiled”.)


#102 Cop Car (2015)
#102a Independence Day (Special Edition) (1996/1998)
#103 The Revenant (2015)
#104 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)
#105 Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
#106 Spy (Extended Cut) (2015)
#107 Deadpool (2016)
#107a Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969)
#108 Ip Man 3 (2015), aka Yip Man 3
#109 Steve Jobs (2015)
#110 Fantastic Four (2015)
#111 Barry Lyndon (1975)
#112 Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future (1973), aka Иван Васильевич меняет профессию
#113 The Bank Job (2008)
#113a The Present (2014)
#114 The Lobster (2015)
#115 Pan (2015)

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  • WDYMYHS continues apace with Stanley Kubrick’s 7th film on the IMDb Top 250, Barry Lyndon. It’s getting a 40th anniversary theatrical re-release towards the end of July, so expect a review nearer the time.
  • #1 thing I didn’t quite get round to this month: Zootropolis, aka Zootopia. It’s not out on UK DVD/Blu-ray until the end of July, but I imported it from the US (before 37.4% of the electorate went and knackered the value of the pound).
  • The Bank Job finally carries the number of films I’ve seen from my 2008 ‘50 Unseen’ list past the 20 mark. Ridiculously, last year’s list also passed that marker this month.
  • Independence Day is the first non-main-list film I’ve watched for review this year, and Bambi Meets Godzilla is the first short film.


It’s funny: having passed 100 last month, the whole statistics / how far I’ve got / predictions for the future shebang has been much less on my mind of late (which has been more occupied with writing 100 Favourites posts, because I’m no longer far ahead on them). Nonetheless, here are a couple of observations.

With 14 new feature films watched, June bests last month’s 13 (just), but sits behind all other months of 2016. It’s also not quite as good as last June, which scored 16, but it well surpasses June’s average of 8.25. It’s the 25th consecutive month with over 10 films, too, so that’s nice — still on track for that to hold until this December messes it up, at least.

As ever, the end of June marks the year’s halfway point. With my year-to-date monthly average at 19.2, the obvious forecast places me at 232 by the end of the year, which — in almost the opposite of last year, when these predictions kept proving undervalued — I don’t expect to reach. Taking the average of the last two months as a better guide, that gets me to 196, which seems more plausible. Really, I’m only in the habit of making these predictions from the years when it took me ’til December to reach #100, and so trying to guess if I was going to do it ‘mattered’ — these days, what does it matter? I’ll get where I get.

And on that downbeat note…



The halfway point of the year also means the halfway point of my 100 Favourites. The (alphabetical) first 50 is completed by:



The 13th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A couple of 2015 Oscar contenders caught my attention this month, and The Revenant or Steve Jobs would certainly be a worthier pick… but I called this category “favourite” rather than “best” for a reason, and dammit if I didn’t enjoy Deadpool more than a man of my age (i.e. older than teenage) reasonably should.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I didn’t love every film I watched this month, but I did at least like the vast majority. Some may think last year’s much maligned Fantastic Four reboot would be a shoo-in here, but no, I quite liked it. So the only bad film this month — and therefore an easy ‘victor’ in this category — was unnecessary sequel Beverly Hills Cop III.

Best Moulin Rouge Rip-Off of the Month
Smells Like Teen Spirit in Pan. (Sorry if I’ve now spoiled that surprise for you.)

Most Unexpected Appearance by a Eurovision Song Contest Entrant… Ever
The word “most” feels a bit redundant here — how many Eurovision entrants have ever turned up in movies? Well, aside from Abba. Anyway, I’d never seen a Paul Feig film before, but he earns a shed-ton of bonus points (enough to wipe out Ghostbusters? We’ll see) for not only featuring Ukraine’s 2007 submission by Verka Serdyuchka in Spy, but for setting an action sequence to it too.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
A close one this time, but it ended with victory for a 100 Favourites entry, for the second month in a row: my generation’s Star Wars, the enduringly popular Jurassic Park.


Historically, July is my lowest-totalling month, and the only month where I’ve ever failed to watch a single new film (in 2009). 2016’s iteration should do better than that, at least.

The New-Look Monthly Update for June 2015

Say hello to the new-look, bigger-than-ever 100 Films monthly update! Well, partially new look — much is the same, but there are some exciting new regular categories, and image-header-things. I had some ideas; I’ve introduced them all at once. (They excited me, anyway.)

First new regular: a contents list!


What Do You Mean You Haven't Seen…?

Just one WDYMYHS film watched this month (so I’m still two behind) — it’s Martin Scorsese’s beloved boxing biopic (that I should’ve watched in 2013 but failed to), Raging Bull. I would make a brief comment on what I thought of it, but we’ll come to that in the Arbies…


June's viewing

Kingsman#75 Changing Lanes (2002)
#76 Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
#77 The Expendables 3 (Extended Version) (2014)
#78 Ladyhawke (1985)
#79 Now You See Me (2013)
#80 The Interview (2014)
#81 Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
#82 Superman vs. The Elite (2012)
John Wick#83 Rush (2013)
#84 Whiplash (2014)
#85 Meet the Robinsons (2007)
#86 Before Dawn (2012)
#87 The Guest (2014)
#88 Raging Bull (1980)
#89 John Wick (2014)
#90 Fury (2014)


Viewing Notes

  • Meet the Robinsons is the 47th official Walt Disney Animated Classic, and the 39th I’ve seen. 15 to go…
  • I have a whole new format and I make this entire section look pointless with one “oh, by the way” bit of trivia, which is less than I normally have to say here, I feel. Ah well, what can you do?


Analysis

2015 continues apace with 16 new films watched this month. That smashes the June average of 7.14 — indeed, reaching #90 singlehandedly drags it up over a whole film, to 8.25. It’s the highest June ever, which also means it’s the 8th month in a row to beat last year’s equivalent (June 2014 had 11). It’s the 13th month in a row in which I watched more than 10 new films, and is tied with January as both the highest month of 2015 and the third-highest month ever (also tied with May & August 2010). That means that, at 2015’s halfway point, its monthly average is exactly 15.

Most excitingly of all, however, is that I’m now all but guaranteed to reach #100 in July. I’d have to fail my ten-films-per-month goal not to, and I’ve been doing really well with that so have plenty of incentive not to let it slip. More on what reaching #100 in July ‘means’ next month (hopefully!)

Over in Prediction Corner: assuming I uphold my ten-per-month minimum, this year will reach at least #150, which would be my best year by some 14 films. In other words, we should know if 2015 is a new Best Year Ever by November at the latest. (Unless I mess up ten-per-month but then still pass 136 in December, of course.) Meanwhile, in the world of averages… well, we’re halfway through the year, so such a prediction would see my tally exactly double, clocking in at a quite extraordinary 180. (Extraordinary for me, anyhow — stow it, you “365 films in a year” people!)

I’ve been posting these regular monthly updates for over five years now, and in all that time they’ve been very much focused on numbers and stats — how many films have I watched, how does that compare to the past, what does it suggest for the future, etc. And that’s fair enough — as progress reports, it’s kinda their point to report my progress. But I’ve decided it’s about time to introduce some opinion into the mix, to liven things up a bit. So I proudly present…


The Arbies
The 1st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

So named because what I watch in any given month is pretty arbitrary, so the pool of contenders is a total whim rather than a genuine competition. Plus, each month two of the five categories are going to be arbitrarily chosen, just to compound the point. You’ll get the idea as we go along.

That’s Arbie on the right, by-the-way. In case that wasn’t obvious. (Turns out Arbie is also the name of the mascot of the Royal Bank of Canada. I don’t think anyone’s going to get us confused though, so on I go.)

For June 2015, the awards go to…

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched a number of very good films this month, several of them strong contenders for my year-end top ten, but when it came to the crunch there was a clear winner here: as anyone who read my review yesterday likely suspects, it’s The Guest.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Although there were a couple of weak and/or disappointing movies amongst my viewing this month, and some I certainly liked less than this winner (or, rather, loser), for the greatest discrepancy between “expectation” and “what I actually thought of it”, this goes to Raging Bull.

The Most ’80s Soundtrack You’ve Ever Heard
Most months The Guest would have this sewn up, but oh no, not when Ladyhawke’s around. Can you imagine anyone doing a fantasy movie without a Howard Shore-esque orchestral epic soundtrack nowadays? Me either. In the ’80s, on the other hand… well, they sure did love their synthesisers.

Most “Oh, I Didn’t Know They Were In It” Cameo Appearance
If all you’ve seen of John Wick is the Keanu Reeves-centric posters, it’s probably riddled with moments such as these. Me, I somehow knew most of them, so this award goes to Jason “should’ve played James Bond at some point” Isaacs popping up in Fury as some kind of commander for a little bit. The Blu-ray has nearly an hour of deleted scenes; to my surprise, “the rest of Jason Isaacs’ role” doesn’t seem to be among them.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Because if I didn’t limit it to new posts, this would be Harry Potter every month (across 2014 and 2013 (the year they were first published), my reviews of Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets accounted for 33.5% of all my page views).
This month: thanks primarily to being retweeted by a Keanu Reeves fan twitter, the victor is Man of Tai Chi.


from around the blogosphere…

I am shockingly bad at getting round to reading other people’s blogs, and when I do it’s often in fits and starts (as anyone who’s ever received half-a-dozen ‘likes’ from me on things they posted a month ago can attest). In the interest of being a better human being, then, I thought I’d start collating particularly interesting pieces from elsewhere and share them here, for whatever that’s worth.

There’s no particular rhyme or reason to my choices, just a handful of pieces that struck a particular chord for me this month. For one thing, there’s a pair of coincidently-thematically-similar pairings from the same two blogs. One of those is up first:

1976, the year it all started… @ the ghost of 82
ghostof82 tackles the emotions of what makes us love movies in the first place, through his own experience with Jaws in ’76.

Jurassic Park (1993) @ Films on the Box
Mike touches on a similar topic from a different angle: how films that are cinema-defining for a generation can appear to those outside said generation.

Evangelion June 22, 2015 @ Heather Anne Campbell
Monday 22nd June 2015 was “Evangelion Day”, the day on which the first episode of anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion takes place. In this write-up, Heather Anne Campbell explains what the series means to her and, in the process, outlines some of the reasons it’s so good and has endured for so long.

Ten of the Best – Noir Directors @ Ride the High Country
Whenever I read Colin’s blog I come away with a raft of new films I want to see. You can only imagine how many got added to my list after this well-considered overview.

Miracle Mile (1988) Review @ Cinema Parrot Disco
Who doesn’t love stumbling across something they’ve never heard of that turns out to be right up their street? No idea if I’d like Miracle Mile, or even if/when I’ll have a chance to see it, but table9mutant’s review has me suitably intrigued. And is it just me or are the ’80s everywhere at the minute?

Movies Silently’s Top Ten Talkies @ Movies Silently
Talking of, a) recommendations, and b) the ’80s, silent cinema doyenne Fritzi took a detour from her regular stomping ground with this list (technically from last month, but rules were made to be bent). Any list of favourites that includes Mystery Men is a good’un in my book, but the aforementioned ’80s recommendation is her #2 choice, medieval fantasy Ladyhawke. As you may’ve noticed above, it even managed to find its way to the top of my “must watch” pile (a rare feat). Full review in due course, but for now suffice to say I very much enjoyed it. I even thought the score had its moments.

RIP Christopher Lee @ Films on the Box
Finally, the second pairing I mentioned, on a sadder note. First, Mike pays fitting tribute to one of the great screen icons.

Remembering the Music of James Horner @ the ghost of 82
Last but not least, a personal tribute to composer James Horner.


Reviews


Archive Reviews


5 Iconic Music Themes

Film music has changed a lot down the years, but it’s been a pretty constant important element. Plenty of it is forgettable background noise, but some stands out so much it becomes famed in its own right. I recently re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy, inspiring this month’s top five: three film themes — plus two from other mediums — that, to me, are some of the most iconic of all.

  1. Doctor Who by Ron Grainer
    Doctor WhoDiddly-dum diddly-dum diddly-dum ooo-weee-ooo… For generations of British children, that’s the sound of Saturday night adventure. I guess to some people it’s just a children’s TV theme, but they’re wrong: it was a genuinely pioneering, important example of burgeoning electronic music (honestly). As a composition it’s surprisingly versatile: Delia Derbyshire’s original arrangement is still chillingly unsettling 52 years on; Murray Gold’s 2005 version (arguably perfected in the Series Four version) is an equally-perfect orchestral blockbuster.
  2. Star Wars (Main Theme) by John Williams
    Star WarsDooo-dooo dododo-dooodo dododo-dooodo dododo-doo… You could probably fill this list twice over with John Williams compositions — Indiana Jones, Jaws, Superman, Jurassic Park, more recently Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter, and so on — but undoubtedly the most iconic of them all is his main theme to George Lucas’ space-fantasy saga. Running it a close second is the same series’ Imperial March, perhaps the greatest villain’s theme ever. All together now: dum dum dum dum-dudum dum-dudum…
  3. James Bond Theme by Monty Norman
    Casino Royale teaserDang da-dang-dang da-da-da dang da-dangdang da-da-da daa-daa da-da-daa… A 53-year-old surf rock tune should by all rights be horribly dated, but I guess true cool endures. While the version used in the films has barely changed, there are an abundance of variations for trailers, etc. My personal favourite is the one created by Pfeifer Broz. Music for the Casino Royale trailer in 2006. The climactic use of a choir is one of those “how did it take someone 43 years to think of this?!” moments.
  4. The Fellowship Theme by Howard Shore
    FellowshipDooo-dooo dododooo, do-do-doo do-do-doo do-do-doo do do doo… The only one here that isn’t a title theme, but it’s indelibly part of the Lord of the Rings franchise — it has no reason to appear in The Hobbit trilogy, but I spent most of those eight hours missing it. It reoccurs throughout the trilogy (of course it does), but perhaps the purest version can be found in The Ring Goes South from the Fellowship soundtrack. “Only Peter Jackson and Howard Shore can make 9 people walking past a rock look epic.”
  5. The Secret of Monkey Island by Michael Land
    The Secret of Monkey IslandDoo-doo dodododo-doo do-do-do-doo… I’m certain this will be less familiar than any of the above to most people but, honestly, to me (and, I think, many other people who played the LucasArts games) it’s as iconic as anything else I’ve mentioned, including all of those other John Williams ones. The original was rendered in the style of its era — a digital MIDI thing — but it endured throughout the series and was transformed into some lusher orchestral versions. Try the version from the 2009 special edition, for instance.

I’m already full of incredulousness at myself for leaving out Indiana Jones. Or Back to the Future. Or Mission: Impossible. And it may’ve been composed by committee, but I love the main theme from Pirates of the Caribbean (find it cleanly in the first film’s He’s a Pirate). And if we’re allowing TV themes, what about Games of Thrones? I mean, this is pretty much what I hear every time I watch the show. And also… oh, we’ll be here forever. What are you favourites?


Next month…

#100! Probably. Hopefully.

June 2014 + 5 Most Acclaimed Silent Movies

We’re halfway through the year, so let’s celebrate — with my biggest June ever!

First things first:


What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

Continuing just as it should, I watched one more WDYMYHS film this month. As is often the case, it was the last film of the month… but for once it wasn’t squeezed in right at the end, I just didn’t watch anything else after it.

This movie is both the oldest and shortest on this year’s list. It sees Charlie Chaplin direct Charlie Chaplin from a Charlie Chaplin script. It is… Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. To put in the context of the two other Chaplins I’ve seen, I liked it more than City Lights, but not as much as The Great Dictator.

So the year is half passed and I’ve watched half my list. Hurrah! Still no Raging Bull from last year’s 12, though.


June’s films in full

The Secret of Kells#45 Ghost Rider (2007)
#46 The Tournament (2009)
#47 The Secret of Kells (2009)
#48 Night of the Big Heat (1967)
Sightseers#49 Elysium (2013)
#50 Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)
#51 Journey into Fear (1941)
#52 Sightseers (2012)
#53 Patriot Games (1992)
#54 The Conspirator (2010)
#55 Modern Times (1936)


Halfway Analysis

As we reach the year’s halfway point (did I mention that?), 2014 almost looks like a year conceived by committee to be perfectly average. I’m not the furthest I’ve ever been (look to 2007’s 59, 2010’s 64, 2011’s 67, or last year’s 58 for that), nor the lowest (look to 2008’s 45, 2009’s 38, or 2012’s 51 for those). But average those totals out and you get 54.6 films reached by the halfway mark… or to round it up, 55 films — which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is exactly where I am.

That’s in part thanks to this being my largest-ever June (I definitely mentioned that). Eleven films isn’t that huge in the grand scheme of things (it’s not even the highest this year), but it’s an above-average number (the necessary monthly average being 8 (or, to be precise, 8.3)) and that’s always a good thing. If I can keep up my year-to-date pace for the rest of 2014, I’ll reach 110 (tricky maths, working that out), which would be equal to last year and — more importantly — be over target. To really be clever, if I kept up the pace set over my last four months, I’d end up pushing into the 120s… but let’s not get ahead of myself.


5 Most Acclaimed Silent Movies (That I’ve Not Seen)

As this month’s WDYMYHS film is Modern Times, arguably the last silent movie made during the era itself (i.e. ignoring tributes like The Call of Cthulhu and The Artist), I thought now would be a grand time to take a look at the five most revered silent movies that I’ve still not seen. A highly personal list then (predicated as it is on what I’ve already seen rather than a general opinion of all films), but it’s what I wanted to see, so there.

Where did I fetch this list from? Well, it seemed only right to use the same methodology behind this year’s WDYMYHS (as it was one of those films that inspired the list) — but I did tweak it slightly: unsurprisingly, the iCheckMovies Most Checked and All-Time Box Office lists include no silents*, so in their stead I’ve factored in The Top 300 Silent Era Films.

And so, according to that formula, the silent films I haven’t seen but really should have are…

  1. The GeneralThe General
    I’ve never seen a Buster Keaton movie, but the world reckons this is the one to go for — indeed, the Top 300 Silent Era Films ranks it the #1 silent film full stop. TSPDT and IMDb put it 36th and 132nd, respectively, out of all films ever, which isn’t too shabby. I actually recently got this on DVD (along with an array of his other works), so perhaps it’s time to make the effort…
  2. The Gold RushThe Gold Rush
    This Charlie Chaplin effort is the only film to appear on all four factored lists, albeit outside the top 250 on Empire’s (#342). TSPDT still put it in the top 100 though, placing it 63rd, while on IMDb it’s only just behind The General at #134. In the Top 300 Silents it’s in sixth place, making it the second-best I’ve not seen there too.
  3. The Passion of Joan of ArcThe Passion of Joan of Arc
    Many would rate this among the greatest films ever made… but not users of IMDb or readers of Empire, it would seem. The Top 300 Silents continue to dictate the order here: it’s seventh on their list, making it third for me. It’s only other placing, then, is TSPDT, where it’s right up at 15th. The 2012 Sight & Sound poll went even further, ranking it the 9th greatest film ever.
  4. IntoleranceIntolerance
    TSPDT rank D.W. Griffiths’ epic Birth of a Nation apology as the 88th greatest film ever, and it’s that high opinion that ends the Top 300 Silents’ dictating of this list: they rank it 16th, below six as-yet-unmentioned silents I’ve not seen — including Birth of a Nation, in fact. No room for either at IMDb or Empire, though. (For what it’s worth, TSPDT put Birth at #230.)
  5. Greed
    GreedEmpire readers considered this the 399th best film ever. TSPDT treated it more kindly, slipping into the top 100 at #94; the Top 300 Silents rank it among their top ten, however, at #10. The original (now lost) cut ran eight hours; the version released was merely two. In 1999 a four-hour version was created using stills from the deleted scenes, which seems to be the only one readily available, though I’ve heard the shorter cut is superior.

Just bubbling under were The Kid, Sherlock Jr., Napoleon, Un chien andalou, Der letzte Mann… I could go on — you have to go quite far before you reach a film I’ve not at least heard of.

* For what it’s worth, the IMDb Top 250 only threw up three silents I’d not seen (The General, The Gold Rush, The Kid), and the Empire 500 only included one in its top 250 (Pandora’s Box), though there were four more further down (The Gold Rush, Greed, Napoleon, Un chien andalou). The bulk of this list is therefore dictated by TSPDT (15 silents in their top 250, in addition to whatever I’d already seen), sifted slightly by their Top 300 Silents ranking. ^


Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

It’s the summer! Though don’t tell the cinemas — they seem to think it’s been summer for about three months already.

June 2011

What’s that? We’re halfway through the year, you say?

No, you’re having me on.


We’re halfway through the year

Dammit.

Anyway — It’s no news that being halfway through the calendar year sees me more than halfway through my annual goal (because that happened last month), but it’s always a good time to stop and take stock.

As you’ll see shortly, this point finds me at 67 films. A bit of easy maths suggests this route would lead me to 134 films by years’ end, which would be a new record. Experience tells me it looks this way every year — last year, for instance, numbers suggested I’d make 128 by December 31st, but I actually reached 122. I’m sure the other years tell the same story: for whatever reason, the back six months don’t see as much film-watching activity on my part as the first six. Partly because once I pass 100 I’m not quite as motivated (it becomes a good time to catch up on TV, or films I’ve already seen and would like to re-watch).

Still, whether I do make it to 134 or not, I’m well on track to make it past 100. And that’s the aim after all.


This month’s 9

#59 Jonah Hex (2010)
#60 X-Men: First Class (2011)
#61 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3D) (2011)
#62 Ip Man (2008)
#63 Law Abiding Citizen: Director’s Cut (2009)
#64 Valley of Fear (1983)
#65 Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance., aka Evangerion shin gekijôban: Ha (2009/2010)
#66 A Study in Terror (1965)
#67 Saw 3D (2D) (2010)


No Scott Pilgrim

In my look ahead to ‘vengeance week’, I mentioned having a review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World posted for tonight. Obviously, that hasn’t happened and isn’t happening. Maybe soon; maybe in a few years — who knows! (I didn’t get round to watching it either, y’see.)

And I’m not even going to mention Once Upon a Time in America.

…oops


Next time on the all-new 100 Films in a Year monthly update…

Making promises is getting me nowhere. So, next month, I will probably watch some films, and I may review some of them, and in 31 days I’ll tell you how I got on. That last point I can guarantee.

Unless I have an unfortunate accident or something. Dammit.

June 2010

Being the films I watched in the month of June, in the year of 2010, that count toward my goal of seeing 100 films this year.

I might change that intro next month.


Halfway

The start of July is, perhaps obviously, halfway through the year. In terms of film-viewing, then, I should have reached 50, obviously. (Actually, dividing it up equally (or as equally as one can) across 365 days, I should reach 50 tomorrow.) As attentive regular readers will be aware, I actually reached 50 last month.

It’s nice to be well ahead of schedule after last year’s failure (I promise to stop going on about that when this year’s final total is in), though obviously I can’t get complacent — as July begins I’ve still got 36 films to go. That’s significantly better than the 51 it ‘should’ be, but July 2009 was also when I didn’t watch a single film.

Will that happen again? Probably not. But I have slowed down. And I lay the blame squarely at the door of Battlestar Galactica, which I finally started getting into this month. It’s as excellent and addictive as everyone has spent the last few years telling me, and rushing through it in two or three or four episode clumps is eating into my regular film-viewing time. Back when I bought the Blu-ray, someone somewhere on the web that I can’t find now predicted it would take over my viewing and wreck getting to 100 in 2009. Well, that did for itself (I think I may’ve mentioned that?), and, me being me, I haven’t got round to watching BSG ’til now… but fingers crossed it doesn’t manage to destroy 2010. I’m 16 ahead for one thing — and I have a plan…

Anyway, here are the seven films I did find time for this month:


#58 Public Enemies (2009)
#59 Final Destination (2000)
#60 2012 (2009)
#61 The International (2009)
#62 True Lies (1994)
#63 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
#64 Mulan (1998)


Pretty piccies

This month’s Thought Of The Day (or, y’know, whatever) is on pictures. I’ve been including them in reviews since March now and, as Colin commented at the time, “it always adds a little something to a piece”. But I wanted to take a chance to query if anyone had any thoughts on them. Are there typically too many, for example? Or too few? Too big? Not big enough? Badly placed on the page? Or anything else that may occur.

An insignificant wondering, perhaps, but they’re meant to make the blog nicer/easier to read, so if there’s something off about them I’m open to suggestions and pointers. Not that I’ll necessarily change anything, but it’s nice to know what people think.


Goodbye to the auteur

Actually, I’m not about to offer up a treatise on why auteur theory is/isn’t valid any more/ever. No, I’ve just got rid of the “Directors” list of categories/keywords this month. They were pretty useless, really; a random selection of directors with varying degrees of coverage (some didn’t even have any films reviewed here) that just clogged up the sidebar by being long. I’m considering a new page to list directors who have two/three/a-higher-starting-number films reviewed here, but I don’t want to stuff the menu bar with unnecessary links either.


Next time on the all-new 100 Films in a Year monthly update…

July! The month when, last year, I failed to watch a single new film, leaving me 19 behind target by the start of August.

I’ve gotta do better than that, right?

Right?

2007 | Weeks 24-26

In case you’ve forgotten, and can’t work it out from the title, I’m trying to see at least 100 films that I’ve never seen before by the end of 2007. That’s an average of eight per month, donchaknow; or two per week. I’m well on target.

And, I’m halfway through! For anyone who can’t remember how many weeks there are in a year… well, there’s 52; and half of 52 is 26; and the week of June 25th is week 26 of 2007, meaning that July 1st is just about halfway through the year (though, to be precise, there’s actually 52 weeks and one day in a year… well, actually, 52 weeks, one day and a quarter day… anyway…)

I passed the numerical halfway point (i.e. 50 films) way back in week 19 — clearly I’ve not been doing as well in the past 7 weeks! At all. Oh dear oh dear…

Exams may be long over and holidays may be on, but combine the odd bits of good TV filling days and evenings with a commitment to completing Script Frenzy, and you wind up seeing less films than you might expect. A lot less, as it turns out — just three in three whole weeks. Still, I’m currently well on track to pass 100 by the end of the year anyway. Shiny.

And as has become standard practice, I’ll handily remind you that this entry is covering films seen between 11th June and 1st July.

#58 Sense and Sensibility

#59 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

#60 Kramer vs. Kramer

2007 | Weeks 21-23

This time I do see Spider-Man 3! But not Zodiac, mainly because I can’t be bothered and I’m quite happy to catch it on DVD. Plus, Pirates 3 is long out now, and if you think I’m going to be foolish enough to brave the cinema to see a film of that popularity in its opening week when that week is also half term then you’ve got another thing coming! This period is also affected by exams and the beginning of Script Frenzy.

Talking of exams, I had my film exam on May 30th, which should in theory have meant a glut of films from the course or related to the course just before that. Well, there’s Chinatown… and there would’ve been Only You but the sound wouldn’t play… on my Mac anyway… and how about Die Hard and Once Upon a Time in the West (seen them before)… or connected films such as The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, Easy Rider, The French Connection, The Godfather, Jurassic Park, Predator, Dirty Dancing, The Fifth Element, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Star Wars or Once Upon a Time in America? Well, I can tell you for nothing that I’ve seen some of them before. As for the others… you’ll just have to see… or not…

Actually, this entry has wound up covering a longer period than I initially thought (though not as long as it nearly did). Mainly cos it turned out I didn’t (and haven’t) watched many films since those pesky exams finished. I’m not sure why, to be honest.

I’m slowly making my way past the halfway mark in numbers, and slowly heading towards it in time. This period covers the three weeks from May 21st to June 10th.

#53 West Side Story

#54 Spider-Man 3

#55 Chinatown

#56 Road to Morocco

#57 It’s All Gone Pete Tong