The Interruptive Monthly Update for February 2017

And the award for Most Recent Month goes to… January!

I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake. February, you guys won Most Recent Month. This is not a joke. This is not a joke, I’m afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke. February has won Most Recent Month. February, Most Recent Month.


#16 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
#17 It Follows (2014)
#18 Elstree 1976 (2015)
#19 Hell or High Water (2016)
#19a Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition (2015/2016)
#20 In a Valley of Violence (2016)
#21 Don’t Breathe (2016)
#22 Fandango (1985)
#23 Hail, Caesar! (2016)
#24 San Andreas (2015)
#25 Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (2015)
#26 Dances with Wolves: Special Edition (1990/1991)
#27 Police Academy (1984)
#28 The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
#29 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Fandango

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  • I watched 14 new films in February, plus one alternate version.
  • That’s now my 33rd consecutive month with ten or more films.
  • It easily passes the February average (11.22; now 11.5), but isn’t even close to the highest February (last year’s 24).
  • It also falls just short of the last 12 months’ average (15.83; now 15 exactly).
  • It’s also behind where I was this time last year (#44!), but it’s equal to this time in 2015 and ahead of every other year.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS viewing: the Coen brothers’ frothy ode to Hollywood (which may have deeper stuff going on that, frankly, I wish it didn’t try to bother with), Hail, Caesar!
  • I know some people like to schedule exactly which month they’ll watch each of their Blindspot films. Never quite understood why personally, and here’s a good argument for why not: suddenly finding myself with a weekend all to, er, myself, I was able to comfortably watch all four hours of Dances with Wolves.



The 21st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
One of this year’s Best Picture nominees and a winner from the past may be among my viewing this month, but, while I liked them both very much, there were other films I enjoyed even more. Of those, I think I’m going to pick a coming-of-age comedy-drama I’d never even heard of ’til the ghost of 82 recommended it to me last year, Fandango. It’s definitely worth seeking out.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were no outright stinkers this month — and considering I watched things like San Andreas, Police Academy, and Teenage Mutant Michael Bay Turtles 2, I’m surprised. I nearly gave this award to Don’t Breathe, because the hyper-praised horror-thriller isn’t quite deserving of the extreme love it attracted, but I’ll probably give it a higher star rating than those three I already mentioned. Instead I’ll plump for Police Academy, which isn’t bad but isn’t all that great either.

Best Cover Version of a Classic Song of the Month
After getting an oriental-tinged version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps in Kubo last month, this month it’s California Dreamin’ given a hyper-dramatic do-over by Sia for San Andreas.

Best Dog of the Month
Could it be the talented Abby from In a Valley of Violence? (Very much so.) Could it be the vicious guard dog from Don’t Breathe? (Not really.) Could it be Snoopy? (Eh…) No, the actual winner is the cute little scruffy dog that gets chased by zombies but runs away and totally survives (yes he does) from The Girl with All the Gifts.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
My stats went through the roof this month thanks to being linked to in an article on Cracked.com — just those hits alone would make February 2017 my fourth highest month ever. But it was an old review (Wizardhood) so has nothing to do with this award. Two posts vied neck and neck all month, but in the end It Follows was bested by my review of “Tim Burton’s X-Men”, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Special Award for Best Pun of the Month
This is a bit “patting myself on the back” (possibly undeservedly) but, honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of referring to In a Valley of Violence as “John Wick-y wicky wild wild West”.



You may have noticed there were fewer reviews this month than normal. That’s because (in case you missed it) I marked the blog’s 10th anniversary by posting ten top tens about the last ten years. Plus the customary statistics post, of course.


Despite its aim, my rewatchathon has thus far done very little to halt my focus on watching stuff I’ve never seen before — instead of one a week, I’m averaging one a month. Oops.

#2 21 Jump Street (2012)

I suppose you could also count Fury Road: Black & Chrome down here, but the decolourisation has such a profound effect on the feel of the film that I think it belongs in my main list, albeit as an unnumbered aside, like most alternate versions. And it can’t really be in both lists, can it?

It’s OK though, there are still ten months to go…


So, I said I was going to post 100 Favourites II on consecutive days for the rest of this week. I’ve decided that’s not going to work out, so instead I’ll post the four parts weekly, starting this Sunday.

Other than that, after spending ages celebrating the blog’s anniversary, regular service will be resumed.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

2017 #16
Tim Burton | 127 mins | Blu-ray | 1.85:1 | UK, Belgium & USA / English | 12 / PG-13

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

After his beloved grandpa Abe (Terence Stamp) dies in mysterious circumstances, Floridian teen Jake (Asa Butterfield) seeks closure by visiting the children’s home in Wales where his grandpa was raised. As a child, Abe regaled his grandson with tales of the home’s other residents and their fantastical abilities — tales which were completely true, as Jake discovers when he meets Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her peculiar wards.

The quickest route to defining the experience of watching Miss Peregrine is by referencing other films, if only in a broad sense. For starters, it’s adapted from a young adult fantasy-adventure novel, and there’s a definite shape to things which reflects other entries in that genre — the whole “ordinary kid discovers a fantasy world of incredible powers and approaching danger” type thing.

It’s also directed by Tim Burton, and does feel like a Tim Burton movie. However, what’s incredibly pleasant about that is it doesn’t feel aggressively Burtoneseque. As if in reaction to the blandness of his Planet of the Apes remake, much of Burton’s output since then has slipped towards self-parody, and suffered for it. Miss Peregrine has recognisable flourishes, undoubtedly, but is a little more restrained with how it deploys them. Some have criticised it for this, citing it as another example of Burton removing his unique stamp from the picture, much as he did with Apes, but I disagree.

Her special ability is being a badass

The final other work I would reference is the X-Men; in any incarnation, but the most relevant filmic one is probably First Class. Or not, because that was all about the establishing of Xavier’s school and the equivalent establishment here is already established. Nonetheless, it’s about a country house owned by a British matriarch-figure who cares for a gaggle of misfit kids with special powers. Rather than the X-Men’s potentially-violent array of action-ready skills, however, the ones on display here are a little more whimsical — like Emma (Ella Purnell), who’s lighter than air, or Horace (Hayden Keeler-Stone), who can project his dreams through his eyes.

Also like X-Men, the threat comes from within this secretive world. The starter X-baddie is, of course, Magneto, a mutant seeking to use scientific methods to turn the whole world into mutants. Here, the baddie is Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), a peculiar seeking to use scientific methods to grant immortality to himself and his cronies. Part of their thing is eating people’s eyeballs, which has benefits for them — again, that’s quite Burtonesque… though a mite less whimsical.

The eyes have it

Being on board with this whole milieu is important to enjoying Miss Peregrine, because the film does spend a lot of time establishing it. For those not interested in world-building, the action-packed third act must be a long time coming. There is a lot to marvel at along the way though, and Burton keeps things pleasingly real in his filmmaking techniques: there’s a fight between two creatures that was created with stop-motion, while another sequence involved constructing underwater rigs, and the vast majority of Emma’s floating was achieved by dangling Purnell on wires. That’s not to say there’s no CGI — ironically, the foremost example is a sequence that could otherwise be considered a tribute to Ray Harryhausen — but Burton’s filmmaking encapsulates varied techniques to lend a satisfying physicality to much of the film.

On the whole Miss Peregrine seems to have received a rather muted response, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It might be best to qualify that by reiterating that it’s playing with a lot of things I enjoy — “X-Men by way of Tim Burton” sounds fantastic to me, and that’s not a bad definition of this movie. I’d even go as far as saying it’s his best work this millennium (though, in fairness, I still haven’t seen Big Fish. Well, it’s only 14 years old.) The shape of the story is no great shakes, but it’s built from magical elements and fantastical imagery, and a game cast of quality thesps hamming it up magnificently and eager youngsters with a slightly earnest likeability.

Let's go fly a kite

Actually, in many ways it reminds me of another heightened, stylised young-adult adaptation that suffered from a mixed reception. See you in 2029 for the Netflix re-adaptation, then?

4 out of 5

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is released on DVD & Blu-ray in the UK tomorrow.