The Hoopleheaded Monthly Review of March 2019

I’ve watched about 37 hours’ worth of Deadwood and its special features this month, so you’ll excuse the colloquialism in the title. (I nearly called this the “Cocksucking Monthly Review”, but that seemed like it might lead to some confusion amongst anyone who just saw the post’s title.) But while the acclaimed TV Western feels like it’s dominated my viewing these past few weeks, I’ve also found plenty of time for films, as we shall see…


#29 Swimming with Men (2018)
#30 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
#31 Bruce Almighty (2003)
#32 Isle of Dogs (2018)
#33 Life is Beautiful (1997), aka La vita è bella
#34 Mandy (2018)
#35 Skyscraper 3D (2018)
#36 Free Solo (2018)
#37 Shaft (2000)
#38 Holmes & Watson (2018)
#39 Triple Frontier (2019)
#39a Deadpool 2: Super Duper $@%!#& Cut (2018)
#40 The Italian Job (1969)
#41 Downsizing (2017)
#42 Samaritan Zatoichi (1968), aka Zatôichi kenka-daiko
#43 Brigsby Bear (2017)
#44 Upgrade (2018)
#45 You Were Never Really Here (2017)
#46 Starship Troopers (1997)
#47 Escape from New York (1981)
#48 The Highwaymen (2019)
#48a Paperman 3D (2012)
#49 Waltz with Bashir (2008), aka Vals Im Bashir
Isle of Dogs

Mandy

Brigsby Bear

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  • So, I watched 21 brand-new feature films in March.
  • Add in that alternate cut of Deadpool 2 and five rewatches (see below) and you’ve got… a lotta movies. (I really ought to start keeping track of monthly overall totals for statistical purposes such as this.)
  • As for things I do keep track of, it ticked many boxes. For starters, it’s only the 17th month (out of 147) with 20+ films. It’s also the fourth March in a row to reach that figure, which is a record — no other month has reached 20+ more than twice ever, never mind in a row.
  • As for averages, it beats or equals all of ’em: the average for March (previously 13.8, now 14.4), for 2019 to date (previously 14, now 16.3), and for the last 12 months (which was and remains 21.1).
  • Just about the only achievement it doesn’t have is reaching #50 — I was there by this time in 2016 and 2018. Still, 2019 is likely to tie with 2017 for third place, and that’s nothing to be sniffed at.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Paul Verhoeven’s satirical sci-fi, Starship Troopers, which I didn’t enjoy as much as I’d expected.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: anti-war foreign language Oscar winner Life is Beautiful, which sits high on lists like the IMDb Top 250, but which I didn’t think was that good. Not the most successful month for these two projects, then.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched just Upgrade, Isle of Dogs, and The Matrix (see Rewatchathon).



The 46th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I remain amazed that I find the films of Wes Anderson to be wonderful and exciting rather than self-consciously quirky and consequently irritating, but there we go, it seems I love the guy’s work, and the same goes for his latest, Isle of Dogs. If you’ve not already got the pun, say the title out loud quickly. I was destined to love this film.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
An easy one this month, because Holmes & Watson is at least as terrible as you’ve no doubt heard. It’s almost impressively bad, in fact — like, if you set out to make an unfunny comedy, you’d struggle to beat this. More on that theme when I get round to reviewing it in full.

Thing You Were Only Supposed to Blow Off of the Month
The bloody doors!

Black Private Dick That’s a Sex Machine to All the Chicks, That Would Risk His Neck For His Brother Man, That Won’t Cop Out When There’s Danger All About of the Month
Shaft!

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
In many respects the winner this month was last month’s TV review. It was up for less than 48 hours in February, meaning it received most of its hits so far in March… and it received a lot of hits: it was my most-read single post of the month by a factor of three. But that’s not the way the cookie crumbles: it was posted last month, so it ain’t eligible. From this month’s crop, we can (almost-)always rely on a new Netflix release to produce the goods, and for March that came in the shape of Triple Frontier. (The Highwaymen came a definitive second, despite my review having been online for only 32 hours.)



After falling slightly short last month, March gets this back exactly on track.

#8 The Matrix (1999)
#9 Crocodile Dundee (1986)
#10 Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
#11 The Italian Job (2003)
#12 Wreck-It Ralph 3D (2012)

The Matrix turned 20 yesterday. It seems so weird that it was originally a March release. I mean, nowadays we get blockbusters year-round, but back in the ’90s it was still summer that saw most of the big crowdpleasers hit the big screen. Anyway, the anniversary is not why I rewatched it — I’ve been meaning to for years (I haven’t seen it in over a decade), and the 4K trilogy box set was one of my first purchases on the format. It looks great, of course. I meant to rewatch the sequels too (I know some people like to pretend they don’t even exist, but I’m always curious to reevaluate), but simply didn’t get round to them. Hopefully next month.

Of course, I did find time for other rewatches. Crocodile Dundee and Four Weddings were both films I’ve not seen since the early/mid ’90s, and both held up better than I expected. The former, in particular, I expected little of when viewed today — I imagined it was an of-its-time blockbuster that might yield some nostalgia value at best, but it actually remains quite sharp, in its way, with a fish-out-of-water premise that hasn’t aged badly. Four Weddings feels like it would’ve endured better, for some reason (maybe just because it had a more lasting impact), but it is still a quarter of a century old and so I feared it might feel past it. In fact, I think it’s almost underrated, a very funny but also emotional and truthful film.

The 2003 Italian Job I watched purely because I finally got round to the original (see #40 of the main list) and fancied giving the remake another whirl afterwards. The original is so gloriously ’60s — irreverent, mischievous, anarchic — but I do enjoy the ’00s blockbuster slickness of this remake too. It’s no classic, but it’s solid fun. Also: good golly, it’s 16 years old! If they ever did get round to making the long-mooted sequel, it’d count as a revival/reunion at this point.

Finally, Wreck-It Ralph, rewatched in 3D ahead of the sequel hitting UK disc today. Said sequel has no 3D disc release anywhere in the world, which has pissed me right off (at least with Spider-Verse’s UK & US 3D no-show I had a raft of import options), especially as I didn’t particularly care for the original and have heard the sequel is weaker, so was looking forward to the 3D as a way to elevate my enjoyment. Ho hum. That said, I actually enjoyed the first one more this time round. I still feel like there’s something slightly off about it — the story’s a bit warmed-over, and the overall concept and style doesn’t really fit as a Disney canon movie, for me. The 3D is as spot-on as you’d expect, at least.


This month’s biggest miss is surely Captain Marvel, the latest superhero mega-hit from… well, you can guess who. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those dickheads who attempted to boycott the film (and failed miserably — it’s been a ginormous financial success), I’ve just been too busy to find time to get to the cinema. I guess I’ll have to try soon though, because I intend to see Avengers: Endgame when it comes out and I imagine I should see Captain Marvel first.

At home, my most recent disc purchase I’ve not got round to is Creed II. It only came out here last Monday and I was away most of the week, so I’m sure I’ll get to it soon. Other recent new releases include newly-animated ’60s Doctor Who serial The Macra Terror (not a film, but it should’ve been in this month’s TV review) and Jackie Chan classic Wheels on Meals. I also bought a whole load of titles via various sales and discounts, some of which are punts on movies that get mixed or poor reviews (Hackers, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Everest, the latter two in 3D), others that are Rewatchathon candidates (L.A. Confidential, Contact, Game Night), and one film which continues to baffle my memory, because I should know if I’ve seen it or not but I just can’t remember (that’d be E.T., which I now own in 4K).

I’ve got a rental of Searching that I need to get to in the next couple of days, and I also really need to pay attention to the films sat on my V+ box — for reasons I might get into next month, I’ll be having to get rid of it sometime in the next few weeks, and I’ve still got 29 films recorded on there. There’s no way I’ll ever get through all of them, so I’ll have to prioritise somehow. Possible highlights (depending on what you define as a highlight) include Berberian Sound Studio, The Eyes of Orson Welles, The Help, Holy Motors, A Little Princess, The Last King of Scotland, Modesty Blaise, Tangerine, and To Have and Have Not. Yes, it’s a random ol’ grab bag — but whenever isn’t that an apt description of my viewing choices?


We’re in the endgame now.

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The Verbose Monthly Update for March 2018

As the year reaches its quarterway point, my eponymous goal has (not for the first time) passed the halfway point. That and other equally delightful observations from my March viewing now follow…


#37 Sausage Party (2016)
#38 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
#39 In & Out (1997)
#40 The Jungle Book 3D (2016)
#41 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
#42 Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
#43 Happy Death Day (2017)
#44 Death at a Funeral (2007)
#45 Annihilation (2018)
#46 Death at a Funeral (2010)
#47 Transformers: The Last Knight 3D (2017)
#48 The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
#49 Black Narcissus (1947)
#50 Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword (1964), aka Zatōichi abare tako
#51 Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
#52 Victoria & Abdul (2017)
#53 Benji (2018)
#54 Cars 3 3D (2017)
#55 It Comes at Night (2017)
#56 The Hangover Part II (2011)
#57 Rocky (1976)
#57a The Silent Child (2017)
Happy Death Day

Annihilation

Benji

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  • This month’s 21 new feature films see me sail past the halfway mark.
  • I viewed #50 on 22nd March, which is the second earliest I’ve reached that milestone (behind 2016, when it was on 6th March).
  • 21 is the same number of new films as last month, both of which are ahead of January, so it again raises the 2018 average, from exactly 18 to exactly 19.
  • It also surpasses the rolling average of the last 12 months, but it’s only a sliver higher than March 2017, which means it only increases the average from 15.1 to 15.2.
  • The 2018 Oscar winner for Best Live Action Short Film, The Silent Child, becomes the first short I’ve watched this year. (The previous low for number of shorts watched in a year was 2014, with just two, so I only need to watch a couple more in the next nine months to avoid that fate.)
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus, which I selected because it was on TV shortly afterwards and it’s always nice to a tie a review to something. But then I had conflicted feelings about the film, so no review yet while I continue to ponder it.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film is the Best Picture Winner that inspired a nation, apparently: the original Rocky. Now, just six more of them to go…



The 34th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
There wasn’t a single 5-star film this month, but I do have a solid array of 4-star-ers to choose from for this award. Similarly, while there were a couple of very acclaimed features amongst my March viewing, I think the movie I most enjoyed was Groundhog Day-meets-Scream horror flick Happy Death Day, which I can’t help but feel has been somewhat underrated.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were also very few disasters this month. That said, I did finally get round to Where the Wild Things Are and was thoroughly disappointed. However, while that may’ve been the greatest gulf between my hopes and the reality, I’m still going to plump for the remake of Death at a Funeral in this category — I may’ve had low expectations, but it still didn’t meet them.

Most Prolific Director of the Month
I watched three films directed by Frank Oz this month — not deliberately, it was just one of those random coincidences. He’s only directed 12 films, so that’s a full quarter of them. They were: In & Out (which has been available to stream on Sky Cinema for years and goes on my “to watch” long-list every time I get a subscription; this year, it actually made it, on Oscars Sunday (if you’ve not seen the film, it was appropriate viewing for the occasion)); Death at a Funeral (for a while I’ve wanted to watch both this and its remake side by side, and one each was available on Netflix and Sky Cinema while I happened to have both services (a rare occurrence)); and, finally, The Muppets Take Manhattan (because I’m gradually making my way through all the Muppet movies (this is the third)). Review spoiler: I gave them all 3 stars.

Most Number of Film Series I’ve Been in the Middle of Watching at Once (Probably)
While I was watching Rocky towards the end of the month, I realised that technically meant I’d embarked on watching the Rocky series; and that made me realise how many film series I’m in the middle of right now. Not counting ones that we’re all in the middle of while we await further instalments to be released, but including rewatches as well as first-time viewings, I reckon I’m currently partway through fourteen different series (“series” being anything that’s a trilogy or greater). Those include, in alphabetical order: the Back to the Future trilogy, Die Hard, the Disney canon, the Hangover trilogy, James Bond, Jaws, the Man With No Name trilogy, Mission: Impossible, the Muppets, Rocky, Shrek, Terminator (though I only really intend to follow up December’s viewing of The Terminator with T2 in 3D and then stop, so maybe it shouldn’t count), Twilight, and Zatoichi. Phew! (And I still feel like I’ve forgotten something…)

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For much of the month my review of much-discussed Netflix “original” Annihilation was in pole position here, but in the last week it’s been pipped by my monthly TV column — the first time that’s bagged the award this year, but (based on last year) surely not the last.



After last month’s larger-than-average selection, this one is half as big… but that still leaves me slightly ahead of target.

#11 Bad Boys (1995)
#12 The Jungle Book (2016)
#13 Bad Boys II (2003)

Like The Love Punch last month, The Jungle Book earns a speedy rewatch by being all-round family entertainment (and by being freshly added to Netflix the day we watched it, too). Similarly facilitated by a streaming service, I’ve been intending to rewatch and reassess the Bad Boyses for a while, and the opportunity presented itself while I had Sky Cinema to watch the Oscars.

Next month, hopefully I’ll get back to my Shrek and Mission: Impossible series rewatches. Plus, perhaps a Marvel or two before Infinity War arrives.


Marvel Cinematic Universe: Episode XIX.

The Ghostly Monthly Update for March 2017

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?

How about Scarlett Johansson in a skintight bodysuit? I’m sure plenty of people wouldn’t need something strange going on to want to make that call…


#30 Logan (2017)
#31 Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
#32 Demolition (2015)
#32a Deadpool: No Good Deed (2017)
#33 Long Way North (2015), aka Tout en haut du monde
#34 Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
#34a Hotel Chevalier (2007)
#35 The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
#36 Money Monster (2016)
#37 Room (2015)
#38 Warcraft (2016), aka Warcraft: The Beginning
#39 Kong: Skull Island (2017)
#40 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
#41 Ghostbusters (2016), aka Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
#42 Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
#43 The Monster Squad (1987)
#44 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), aka Kôkaku Kidôtai Inosensu
#45 Big Game (2014)
#46 Young Frankenstein (1974)
#47 Black Dynamite (2009)
#48 Ghost in the Shell (2017)
#49 Jackie Brown (1997)
Long Way North

Kong: Skull Island

Black Dynamite

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  • I watched 20 new films this March, making it my largest month for nearly a year, since last April’s 21.
  • It’s far head of the March average (previously 12.3, now 13.1) and also passes the average of the last 12 months (previously 15, now 14.75).
  • In terms of my yearly goal, it’s behind where I was last year (two-thirds there at #67) but ahead of every other year (including 2015 — aka The Year of 200 Films — when March ended at #44).
  • This month’s Blindspot film: plugging one of the few gaps in my Tarantino viewing with Jackie Brown.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Room. Normally I’d offer a brief comment, but I already reviewed it in full here.
  • I watched three films starring Samuel L. Jackson this month. Even for a fella as prolific as he is, that’s still quite a number.



The 22nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A tough contest this month between a couple of films I enjoyed an awful lot, but however much I was entertained by a giant ape beating up other giant monsters, the beautiful artistry of Long Way North just edges it today.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Not such a tricky choice here: easily the worst film I watched this month was the disappointing mess that was Warcraft.

Best Dialogue of the Month
You’d think any month with a Quentin Tarantino film in it would have this award sewn up, but not when in the presence of the genius that is Black Dynamite. I’d throw in a quote, but half of the magic is in the delivery.

Most Gratuitous Arse of the Month
Plenty of derrières on display this month, between Natalie Portman’s much-discussed bare behind in Hotel Chevalier, Scarlett Johansson’s extremely figure-hugging costumes in Ghost in the Shell, Bridget Fonda’s post-coital stroll in Jackie Brown, and Kong stomping around the place with nary a stitch on as well. But the fact someone bothered to draw the intimation of an arsehole on the dog in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence takes the biscuit.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Following a tip from Caz at Let’s Go to the Movies, I’ve been adding my reviews to IMDb of late. That paid dividends this month, with an extraordinary (for me) number of hits flowing towards Logan.



This blog’s 10th birthday celebrations continued (and concluded) this month by counting down my 100 favourite movies I’ve seen for the first time in the past ten years. If you missed it, you can read all about it here:


Things are beginning to look up for my Rewatchathon, as I actually rewatched more than one film this month…

#3 Gattaca (1997)
#4 The Nice Guys (2016)
#5 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
#6 Ghost in the Shell (1995)
#7 Hook (1991)

I think I was too young to properly appreciate Gattaca when I first saw it. Now, I think it’s a five-star sci-fi drama/thriller, and it would’ve contended for a place on my 100 Favourites if I’d got this rewatch in a couple of years ago.

Truth be told, I only watched the first 15 minutes of Power Rangers (then my NOW TV subscription ended and it cut me off), so I probably shouldn’t count it… but I would’ve found another way to finish it if those 15 minutes hadn’t been utterly terrible, so I say it still counts because I’d clearly seen enough.

This was the first time I’d watched Hook since childhood and, a few moments and images aside, I barely remembered it at all. It has things going for it (the sets are incredible and many of the special effects are fantastic), but it’s definitely the worst Spielberg movie I’ve seen (1941 still awaits…)


A big year for the MCU kicks off: I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes to the big screen (over here, at least).

100 Films v 2016: Month of March

Tell me — do you watch films?

You will.


Barely Lethal#45 Chappie (2015)
#46 Blackhat (2015)
#47 The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
#48 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
#49 Barely Lethal (2015)
#50 The Book of Life (2014)
#51 Kill List (2011)
#52 Fast & Furious 7 (2015), aka Furious Seven
Lincoln#53 Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
#54 Office Space (1999)
#55 Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
#56 The Boxer from Shantung (1972), aka Ma Yong Zhen
#57 The Descendants (2011)
#58 One-Armed Swordsman (1967), aka Du bei dao
#59 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
Batman v Superman#60 Bridge of Spies (2015)
#61 Scotland, Pa. (2001)
#62 Lincoln (2012)
#63 Brooklyn (2015)
#64 Turbo Kid (2015)
#65 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
#66 The Color Purple (1985)
#67 Grave of the Fireflies (1988), aka Hotaru no haka


  • After sitting out last month, I got back to WDYMYHS in March with IMDb voters’ 7th favourite war movie, 5th favourite ’80s movie, and 3rd favourite animated movie: Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies.
  • With Bridge of Spies coming out on Blu-ray, Lincoln premiering on TV, and The Color Purple being removed from Amazon Prime Instant Video, the last week of March turned into a bit of a Spielberg-athon for yours truly. I’m now just 3¼ films away from finally having seen all his features…
  • Value For Money Assessment, Part 4: adding 10 more films from Now TV to the 10 (plus the Oscars) from last month gives a final cost of £0.48 per film. I’d say that’s good value.


With 23 new films watched this month, March 2016 joins the elite pantheon of months to reach 20 films — it’s only the sixth ever, and the third this year. In the process, it became the 22nd consecutive month with a 10+ total; it leapt spryly over March’s previous best tally (2013’s 17); and it handed 2016 the record for earliest #50, on the 6th (besting last year’s 8th April). It raises the March average from 11 to 12.3, and nudges the 2016 average up a smidgen from 22 to 22.3.

And there I was thinking that 13 hours of Daredevil would knacker my film viewing. (As it is, I’m actually only 10 hours through Daredevil. It’s really good, though.)

I normally end this with a prediction for the rest of the year, but they feel increasingly meaningless. I mean, they’ve always been meaningless — they’re based on averages, which only hold true until they don’t — but I’m still intending to cut back on film viewing this year (at some point), so they’ll definitely go awry. That said, I’m also intending to maintain my 10-film-minimum for a second calendar year, meaning 2016’s final tally should be at least 157 films. And, frankly, I’m intending April and May to continue in a similar vein to these first three months; at least until I reach #100, anyway. Assuming I do get there in May (which will be a whole Thing that I’ll discuss at the time), 2016 will be looking towards 170+ films.

2015 has really recalibrated my notion of “a lighter year”…



This month: Bourne, Bond, and Ben Affleck twice.



The 10th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Although a couple of fun action movies turned my head this month, none of them were fun enough to detract from the sheer class of Steven Spielberg’s collaboration with Abraham-Lincoln-pretending-to-be-Daniel-Day-Lewis-pretending-to-be-Abraham-Lincoln (last time I make that joke, promise) in Lincoln.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
My memories of it have softened a little in the four weeks since I watched it, but as it remains the only film this month that I’ve got down for a 2-star rating, the loser is Michael Mann’s disappointing cyber thriller Blackhat.

Winner of Batman v Superman
Wonder Woman.

Loser of Batman v Superman
Film critics, apparently. Or not.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
This almost went to everyone’s favourite movie about a blind superhero*, but it was edged out by everyone’s second favourite filmed production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play starring an actor who’s also played Magneto** — Macbeth.

* It’s true! If you can find another one, I’ll retract that statement.
** OK, I’m certain some people prefer the Fassbender one to the old McKellen-and-Dench one, but acknowledging that fact would’ve ruined the mirroring structure of my sentence.


¾.

The Past Month on TV #2

This month, another ragtag selection of programmes I’m not watching at the same speed as anybody else.

The 88th Academy AwardsThe Oscars
They feel so long ago already, don’t they? But no, the Oscars were just a couple of weeks back. I thought it was a pretty good show this year. Chris Rock ended up belabouring the race point a bit by the end, including a few gags that went very wrong, but his opening monologue was good, as were some of the skits on the way. That there were a few surprise winners also helped keep things ticking along nicely, though (without having seen it) I think Spotlight is already destined to be an obscure answer to “name a film that won Best Picture” within a couple of years.

Person of Interest (Season 4 Episodes 1-3)
Person of InterestI have very mixed feelings about Person of Interest, whose fourth season has only made it to UK TV in the past few weeks (the belated fifth starts in the US in May, they announced yesterday). When it works, it’s a good quality vigilante/procedural action show; but its array of arc plots are as unrewarding as they are never-ending, and are consequently unsatisfying to a fault (literally). However, now that I’m so deep into it, and with cancellation finally confirmed (the foreshortened and delayed fifth season will indeed be its last, as was also finally announced yesterday), I feel like I’m in ’til the bitter end. The makers just bloody better have had the notice to get a proper ending into that now-final episode…

Ripper Street (Series 4 Episodes 5-6)
Ripper StreetWhen Amazon picked up Ripper Street after the success of the third series, it was for a fourth and fifth season totalling 13 episodes. The show’s writers seem to have taken the double recommission to heart and crafted an arc plot to last throughout those two seasons, meaning this first half ends on a big surprise and with all sorts of things left up in the air. And now we have to wait. Still, it’ll be fascinating to see how there are six or seven more episodes left, considering the predicament they’ve put the characters in.

Shetland (Series 3 Episodes 3-6)
ShetlandI think I sounded a little more dismissive of Shetland than I’d intended in last month’s review. The remainder of the season stepped outside the programme’s usual wheelhouse, heading down to Glasgow and into the world of organised crime, which perhaps lost some of the series’ unique spark. However, it chose to tackle some very heavy issues in the last couple of episodes; the kind of thing that has too often been dumped into dramas as a plot twist without exploring the actual ramifications. Kudos to the writers for dealing with it intelligently and sympathetically, then, and to the cast — particularly Alison O’Donnell — for their incredible performances.

The X Files (Season 10 Episodes 3-6)
The X FilesThe quality of this revival has certainly been all over the place. I was wary of episode three, Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster, because comedy always seems at odds with The X Files’ grand conspiracy storylines, but I thought it was hilarious and deserving of its acclaim as the best episode of the season. Home Again felt like solid standard X Files fodder, and Babylon was clearly trying to be zeitgeisty but perhaps wasn’t fully thought-through. As for the much-maligned finale, My Struggle II… well, it was a mess, and over-ambitious, and a stupid idea to end it on a cliffhanger when no one knew how well the revival would go down. Let’s hope Chris Carter is right that there’ll definitely be more.

Also watched…
  • Dickensian Series 1 Episodes 13-20 — please BBC, can we have some more?
  • Elementary Season 4 Episodes 9-13 — you can adapt the wordplay mystery from A Study in Scarlet all you want, it still doesn’t make you actually similar to Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Flash Season 2 Episode 10 / Arrow Season 4 Episode 10 / DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Episode 1 — I can’t be the only person who thinks of these like one show that’s on three times a week.
  • Gilmore Girls Season 3 Episode 11-Season 4 Episode 17 — 71 to go.
  • Grantchester Series 2 Episodes 1-2 — remember when I said I was going to watch fewer crime dramas? Because I didn’t, clearly.
  • The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story Season 1 Episode 2 — who thought this was going to be a comedy?

    Things to Catch Up On
    The Night ManagerThis month, I have mostly been missing The Night Manager. The critically-acclaimed ratings hit is, as you likely know, a spy thriller adapted from a John le Carré novel, which not only means it has pedigree, but that its star — Tumblr-beloved Marvel villain Tom Hiddleston — is now being tipped to take over as Bond. I wouldn’t know, I’ve not seen it yet.

    Next month… Daredevil season 2.

  • March 2015 + Best Bond Beginnings

    We’re a quarter of the way through the year — but with the #25 milestone passed last month, how far ahead have I forged?

    Also this month: some quick thoughts on the best James Bond pre-titles sequences. Which is your favourite?


    March’s films
    Grosse Pointe Blank
    #30 Alois Nebel (2011)
    #31 Godzilla (2014)
    #32 Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
    #33 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
    #34 Violet & Daisy (2011)
    #35 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
    #35a The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Extended Edition) (2013/2014)
    Mad Max 2#36 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
    #37 God Bless America (2011)
    #38 Videodrome (1983)
    #39 Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
    #40 Looper (2012)
    #41 Valkyrie (2008)
    #42 Mad Max 2 (1981), aka The Road Warrior
    #43 Tarzan (1999)
    #44 Empire of the Sun (1987)


    Viewing Notes

    • This is the third month in a row where I’ve watched 16 films, all in. Weird.
    • Several I’ve been meaning to get round to for years were ticked off this month: Alois Nebel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Looper. All thanks to TV premieres.
    • It’s a complete accident that I left it a year to the month between watching Mad Max and Mad Max 2. Both were on Now TV, which I’m ending my subscription to imminently, so the third may crop up among April’s films.
    • No WDYMYHS film this month. Two in April, then.


    Analysis

    A grand total of 15 new films watched this month brings with it a few interesting observations. For one, this is the first time (since such records began) that January is the largest of a year’s first three months. That doesn’t really signify anything, just one of those random correlations (which has now been broken).

    2015’s is the second largest March ever, and the fifth month in a row to improve on the same period from the year before. Plus it’s the tenth month in a row to have a final tally over ten. Regular readers will know my goal for this year is to have a run of 12 months that each exceed that figure, so I’m 25% of the way there. Meanwhile, the average total for January and February was 14.5, so by just tipping over that in March, the year-to-date average rises to 14.67.

    2015 is clearly shaping up well on the whole. #44 is the furthest I’ve ever reached by the end of March, with second place being a three-way tie between 2010, 2011 and 2013 at #38. As ever, all indicators must be taken with a pinch of salt: last year (my highest year ever, lest we forget) I was actually running behind schedule until the last day of March; conversely, in 2012 I’d made it to #34 by the end of March, a full ten ahead of schedule, but still finished the year with just 97 films viewed.

    Nonetheless, it’s prediction time! Never say never, but with the halfway point already looming next month, I feel 100 films is a fairly comfortable expectation this year (famous last words…) So, if I ‘merely’ manage to maintain my monthly ambition of ten-a-time from here on out, 2015 would make it to #134. That’d be my second-best year ever, so not to be sniffed at. If the current average (14.67, in case you forgot) holds, that would see me reach #176. Considering my previous best is 136, that’d be quite extraordinary. I live in hope.


    This month’s archive reviews

    Continuing apace, with 28 reposts this month.


    Best James Bond Pre-titles

    The past week has brought us both the first trailer for October’s 24th James Bond film, Spectre, as well as the news that it will feature the largest pre-titles sequence the 53-year-old franchise has ever staged. What better time to revive my “list of 5” format and look back at the finest examples of one of 007’s defining features, then?

    Keeping the British end upExcept, goodness, I couldn’t get it down to just five! From Connery alone you’ve got ‘Bond’ being bested in From Russia with Love, the iconic jetpack in Thunderball, and the trend-setting mini-adventure from Goldfinger. As the series rolls on there’s The Spy Who Loved Me and its parachute, Moonraker’s free-fall fistfight (you couldn’t do that today — everyone would assume it was CGI and it’d have no magic), and the perfectly staged training-exercise-gone-wrong from The Living Daylights. The Brosnan era really kicks in the action, first with another peerless mini-adventure in GoldenEye (and the bungee jump…!), then increasingly expansive and suitably witty openers to both Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough. Finally, the Craig era tipped the whole shebang on its head with Casino Royale’s moody black-and-white quickie, and Quantum of Solace’s attention-demanding car battle. Skyfall may have moved back towards the Brosnan mould, but it’s an exceptionally well done one.

    That’s 12 and I don’t even know where to start paring back, at least as far as my personal favourites go.

    We can all agree A View to a Kill and its use of California Girls is the worst, though, right?


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    A third of the way through the year… but halfway to my goal?

    March 2011

    A quarter of the year down! Christ, where does the time go…


    500 films in 5 years! …sort of

    March saw me reach the 500th feature film to be reviewed on this blog. Not #500, mind you (that’ll be later this year), because I’ve also reviewed a variety of films that don’t count — hardly-different alternate cuts, a couple I’d just seen before, that kind of thing. About 25 of those, as it turns out. But still, 500 reviews — that’s a lot!

    Though there’s still 13 to post before there’s actually 500 available to read…


    March’s films

    #26 Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
    #27 Cloak and Dagger (1946)
    #28 Unthinkable (2010)
    #29 Let the Right One In, aka Låt den rätte komma in (2008)
    #30 Let Me In (2010)
    #31 The Damned (1963)
    #32 Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
    #33 Death Race (2008)
    #34 Night of the Demon (1957)
    #35 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, aka Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)
    #36 High Plains Drifter (1973)
    #37 Young Guns (1988)
    #38 The Day of the Locust (1975)


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

    So far this year I’m keeping exact pace with 2010: reaching 12 in January, 25 in February, and 38 in March. Coincidencetastic!

    But April is where I stand a real chance to take a lead. Last year, for various reasons, I only managed to see three films in April, making it to a measly 41. So even four would put me ahead, but if I manage to keep up my current rate (of 12.7 films per month, to be precise) I’ll reach 51 (to round it up). Not only would I be well ahead of last year, but ahead of 2007 too — which, lest we forget, is still my best-ever final total.

    Exciting times.

    Sit-rep (or, ‘In want of a better title’)

    The start of April — which I know is nine days away, before you think I’m barking — marks the end of the year’s first quarter in just about every way possible (meaning in months, weeks and days). Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that the same will be said for this year’s attempt at 100 films.

    To be on target I should have seen 25 films by that point (obviously). Unfortunately, I have only reached 9. (There’s almost a nice bit of symmetry there, as it’s nine days away… except if I’d decided to post this a day earlier or a day later that would be nonexistent, so it’s utterly meaningless.) On top of that, many of those I have seen remain unreviewed, and the last review I posted was hardly of high quality. Or much quality at all, really. It’s been so long since I’ve seen some of these that the reviews will be completed merely from quick notes made at the time and fading memories. Hopefully they won’t be quite as weak as that Some Like It Hot one though…

    Once again, I won’t bore you with the reasons and excuses for this shortfall — though there are many readily available should anyone, for reasons known only unto themselves, actually be interested. What is almost worthy of note, however, is that today is the first day of a five-week holiday for me (the perks of still being a lazy student, yes); and while I still have work to be getting on with (yes, us lazy students do still do that. Sometimes), I’m afforded more time to… well, catch up on TV. But then films.

    And, from this weekend, I’ll have near-exclusive access to a pleasantly large television — much, much bigger than the one I’m usually lumbered with — for two whole weeks. There are certain never-seen DVDs that are screaming for the chance to be watched on it. Plus The Dark Knight as close to IMAX as I’m likely to get for a while. And a chance to re-evaluate Quantum of Solace now that it’s on DVD. But I digress…

    A definite chance to catch up, that’s the point. Of course, as I’m already 14 films behind where I should be as of today (worked out with some fiendishly complex maths, that), the ‘catching up’ might be more ‘damage limitation’…

    100 Days

    April 9th: the 100th day of 2008! As it’s just over a quarter of the way through the year (that would’ve been March 31st, more or less), and also a nice round number in its own right, and as I did a similar thing at roughly this point last year, it seems an appropriate time for a statisticstastic look at how things are going so far.

    I’ve seen a total of just 15 films so far. That makes my weekly average a lowly 1.07, meaning I’ll manage a paltry 56 films this year should that continue. Oh dear. (At this point last year, I was on course to see 145!)

    Of those few films, eight were released in the 2000s, two each in the 1990s, ’80s and ’40s, and one in the ’30s. That means I’ve seen nothing from the ’70s, ’60s or ’50s, or before 1939.

I saw nine of them on DVD, four via download, and two on TV. Nothing on VHS, and I haven’t been to the cinema yet this year.

    Ratings wise, I’ve so far handed out three full marks. Those were to Atonement, Dark City and Rebecca. Of the remaining twelve, five garnered 4 out of 5, four managed a 3, and three were awarded just 2. Nothing has been poor enough to merit a 1… yet. The average rating is therefore 3.5, exactly the same as at this point last year and a pretty averagey average.

    With 38 weeks of the year to go, I have 85 films left to reach my target — that’s an average of 2.2 new films every week (or 9.5 every month) from here out. Quite low, one might think, but I’ve clearly not been living up to it.

    2007 | Weeks 12-13 (Statistics)

    I knew I should have posted the not-too-short-really week twelve by itself, as week thirteen has seen a veritable mass of films viewed toward the end. But it’s done now, so on with the show!

    The end of the second week here marks the exact quarter-way point of my filmic quest (in time terms anyway) and so it seems an appropriate point to reflect a little on my quest so far. So here are some numbers, all totalled up to the end of week thirteen:

    Statistics

    I have seen a total of 36 films.

    Of those, 1 was released in the 1910s, 2 in the 1920s, 1 in the 1940s, 2 in the 1950s, 4 in the 1980s, 3 in the 1990s, and 23 in the 2000s. That means there’s nothing from the 1930s, 1960s or 1970s.

    I have seen 27 on DVD, 6 at the cinema, 2 on VHS, and just 1 on TV.

    The only directors to turn up multiple times are John Glen (twice) and F.W. Murnau (twice). As it turns out, a fair few actors turn up at least twice, mainly thanks to films like Hot Fuzz, Boogie Nights and Crash. It was only Roger Moore who managed several appearances when I first started putting these stats together!

    I have awarded 4 films 5/5, 17 films 4/5, 10 films 3/5, 4 films 2/5, and 1 film 1/5. This makes the average score 3.5/5. Either I see lots of pretty good films or I need to adjust my scoring downward slightly. For anyone interested, the five-star films were Hot Fuzz, United 93, Crash and Trainspotting, whilst the one-star was Flight 93.

    My weekly average is now 2.8 per week, which means I’m on course to see about 145 films this year. Maybe I should adjust that aim…

    Weeks Twelve and Thirteen

    Anyway, it’s time to get on. Here are the films I watched between March 19th and April 1st…

    #25 Doom

    #26 Flight 93

    #27 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

    #27a Crash: Director’s Cut

    #28 The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

    #29 Trainspotting

    #30 Little Miss Sunshine

    #31 Mrs Henderson Presents

    #32 Chocolat

    #33 American Dreamz

    #34 Secretary

    #35 The King and I