Say Hello to My Little Monthly Update for January 2018

Let’s start the new year with a bang…

Say hello to my little friend


#1 Bright (2017)
#2 The Narrow Margin (1952)
#3 My Life as a Courgette (2016), aka Ma vie de Courgette
#4 The 400 Blows (1959), aka Les Quatre Cents Coups
#5 The Purge (2013)
#6 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
#7 The Love Punch (2013)
#8 The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)
#9 The Man from Earth: Holocene (2017)
#10 La La Land (2016)
#11 Zatoichi on the Road (1963), aka Zatôichi kenka-tabi
#12 The Boss Baby 3D (2017)
#13 Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017), aka Gojira: Kaijū Wakusei
#14 Scarface (1983)
#15 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 3D (2017)
La La Land

Scarface

.


  • 15 new films this month gets 2018 off to a strong start. It’s equal to the 2017 average of 14.5, which bodes well for another good year.
  • It’s ahead of the January average (previously 11.2, now 11.5), though ranks joint third of all Januarys: it’s the same tally as last year, only slightly behind 2015’s 16, but 2016 retains the all-time best January with 20.
  • The Boss Baby was the first film I watched from 2017’s 50 Unseen. Did not expect that!
  • This month’s Blindspot film: on the rare occasion I watch a film from the nouvelle vague I always expect to find it irritating and pretentious, but there are some I’ve liked — Breathless, for example. Now joining that list is another of the movement’s best-known texts, François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Al Pacino stars in Brian De Palma’s ’80s epic about a Cuban immigrant who’s a whizz at designing winter neckwear, ScarfAce.



The 32nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
There were quite a few films I really liked this month (by the time the reviews are in, four will receive full marks), but when I sat down to consider this award there was a clear victor for me. I can’t quite believe it’s taken me this long to get round to it (I first noticed it when it was getting raves at festival screenings in the latter half of 2016), and I’m not sure which stage of backlash we’re on at this point (so I don’t know if I’m currently ‘meant’ to like it or not), but I loved La La Land.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There was nothing I’d consider an outright stinker this month (yes, I enjoyed The Boss Baby and King Arthur), so it falls to what I consider the most disappointing, basically. I’m afraid that has to be The Man from Earth: Holocene. After spending so long waiting for it (I supported the Kickstarter campaign back in 2014), the end result didn’t live up to the original. Perhaps it never could have, but here we are.

Worst Title Translation from French of the Month
The French title of François Truffaut’s debut film, Les Quatre Cents Coups, does indeed literally translate into English as The 400 Blows, but that’s not really what it means. It’s a (slight) abbreviation of a French idiom, faire les quatre cents coups, which has a meaning equivalent to “to raise hell”. So in English, The 400 Blows sounds like a pretty meaningless title once you’ve seen the film; something like Raising Hell, on the other hand…

Worst Title Translation from Japanese of the Month
The fifth film in Japan’s long-running samurai series is called Zatôichi kenka-tabi in its original language, which translates as Zatoichi’s Fighting Journey. Suggests some action, doesn’t it? Instead, in English it’s known as Zatoichi on the Road, which is both less exciting and also thoroughly generic — it could be the title of pretty much any Zatoichi movie. (Not that Fighting Journey is that much more specific, to be honest.)

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
A clear victor this month (it had five times as many hits as the post in second place), and for the first time in a quarter of a year it’s actually a film review too: The Man from Earth: Holocene.



I didn’t bother to furnish my Rewatchathon with an introductory post this year because the concept remains fundamentally the same as 2017 (that intro is here). However, because reaching 52 felt like a bit of a scramble towards the end, I’ve lowered my sights ever so slightly to 50. It’s a rounder number anyhow.

First off the block, then…

#1 Dunkirk (2017)
#2 Die Hard (1988)
#3 The Man from Earth (2007)
#4 Die Hard 2 (1990)

That’s a bang-on-target start — a lot better than last year, when I only rewatched one film in January.

Believe it or not, Die Hard and Die Hard 2 are the only Die Hard movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve been meaning to get to Die Hard with a Vengeance for absolutely ages, but for a while have also been wanting to rewatch the first two first. Well, that’s done now, so hopefully #3 will follow soon. And then #4 and #5? Perhaps. I mean, I watched Die Hard 2 for the first time in 2008 and I’m only now watching With a Vengeance, so maybe I won’t see the fifth one until 2038…


The MCU is back, in black.

Advertisements

2017: The Full List

2017 — the 11th year I’ve been doing this 100 films challenge, and the fifth consecutive year I’ve surpassed that goal. Below is the full list of new films I watched this year, all linked up to reviews and that. (“And that” being my “coming soon” page for the dozens of films I’ve not actually reviewed yet.)

My “Full List” post is an annual tradition round these parts, of course, but this year it undergoes its biggest change of format since 2012, when I switched from listing my viewing in chronological (aka numerical) order to listing it alphabetically, and also added the “as it happened” section. This time, however, it’s an even bigger change — the biggest change to this annual tradition ever, in fact.

I’ve got rid of the statistics.

“What, completely?” No, of course not — as regular readers will know, they’re the best part of the year! (They’re my personal highlight, anyway.) Now they’ll be in their own post. Frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t separated them off sooner. Tradition, mainly. Anyway, I think they belong there. Expect that post tomorrow.

In the meantime, there’s also a new addition to this post: TV reviews. As this was the first full year I’ve run my “Past Month on TV” column, and as there’s an ever-growing consensus to consider television on an equal footing with cinema as a narrative visual art form, and as that’s a position which I broadly agree with, it felt only right that I included my TV reviewing in this big ol’ list of reviews.

So, time to crack on with things. As this post is just a long list of words and pictures, if you don’t fancy the scroll (or the swipe, if you’re on one of them newfangled touchy-screens) here are some handy links to jump to whichever bit might interest you:



Below is a graphical representation of my 2017 viewing, month by month. Each of the images links to the relevant monthly update, which contain a numbered list of everything I watched this year. This is also the only place where I’ve listed the 52 films of my Rewatchathon. There’s other exciting stuff in there too, like my monthly Arbie awards.












And now, the main event…


Alternate Cuts
Other Reviews
Shorts
Alien: Covenant

Babe: Pig in the City

Black Swan

Candyman

Death Note

Don't Breathe

The Driver

Get Out

Ghostbusters

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Hidden Figures

Jackie Brown

Kubo and the Two Strings

Logan

Moana

Moonlight

New Tale of Zatoichi

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Rurouni Kenshin

Sing Street

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

That's Entertainment

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

War for the Planet of the Apes

Your Name

Mad Max: Fury Road - Black and Chrome

The Terminator

Hotel Chevalier

.

Across 16 ‘monthly’ columns I reviewed a significant amount of television this year, and so I thought I should include it in my wrap-up. But rather than just link to 16 posts each containing a grab-bag of programming, I thought it would be more useful to list every series I commented on and then link to the relevant post(s). That also shows up just how much TV I watch…


Tomorrow (hopefully): analysing all of the above in exciting statistics!

Soon: ranking all (well, some) of the above in my lists of the best and worst films I saw this year.

The Conclusory Monthly Update for December 2017

And so another year comes to an end — welcome to 2018, dear readers!

Before that, I’m going to spend the next week-ish raking over the remnants of the year just ended. First up: the month of December, and my final tally of new films watched in 2017.


#164 Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
#165 Her (2013)
#166 Atomic Blonde (2017)
#167 Men in Black 3 (2012)
#168 Your Name. (2016), aka Kimi no na wa.
#169 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
#170 Hidden Figures (2016)
#171 It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
#172 Forbidden Planet (1956)
#173 Elf (2003)
#174 Scrooged (1988)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
.


  • 11 new films this month sees me reach a final total of 174 for the year, my third highest ever behind 2015’s 200 and 2016’s 195.
  • But that main list total was undoubtedly decreased by putting effort into my Rewatchathon — what if I added the two totals together? Well, there’ll be more on that in my annual stats post later in the week…
  • Other than that, it’s a bit of an unremarkable monthly tally: it’s below the December average (previously 11.55, now 11.5), below the rolling average of the last 12 months (though it bests December 2016, so raises that from 14.42 to 14.5), and below the average for 2017 (previously 14.8, now finalised at 14.5).
  • Earlier this year, Empire magazine published their latest reader-voted 100 Greatest Movies list. Watching It’s a Wonderful Life means I have just 2½ to go: La La Land (yep, still not seen it), True Romance, and the film I can never remember if I saw as a kid or not, E.T.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, which is still impressive in its own way but has inevitably been out-sci-fi-ed in the last six decades.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was more science fiction: Her, which is basically an episode of Black Mirror. A good one, though.



The 31st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched a few Christmas films this year, which makes a change, and one of those is also my favourite film of the month. As it’s a long-fêted classic I was a little sceptical about how good It’s a Wonderful Life could actually be. Turns out, it’s magnificent.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
No real stinkers this month, but my least favourite was another Christmas film: Will Ferrell comedy Elf. It’s alright, but no classic.

Most Kick-Ass Women of the Month
Sure, Rey could get you good with a lightsaber, and whatever-Charlize-Theron’s-character-was-called-in-Atomic-Blonde could hand your arse to you in a single-take stairwell fight, but the women of Hidden Figures fought the patriarchy for real — and racism, too, while they were at it.

Favourite Porg of the Month
Porg, Millennium Falcon, window

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
You might think the release of a new Star Wars film would walk this, but you’d be wrong: the victory goes to my monthly TV review, which this time covered The Punisher, Detectorists, The Good Place, and so on. It’s the sixth time a TV post has won this award in 2017 — that’s half the year, folks! (The Last Jedi was of course the most-viewed film review, and by a considerable margin: out of all posts it came 6th, with the next new film post at 32nd.)


I didn’t do my review advent calendar again this year, but by coincidence I did post exactly 25 new reviews.


My Rewatchathon goal of 52 films should’ve averaged out at 4⅓ a month, but I came into December with seven left to get through. Did I manage it?

#46 The Terminator (1984)
#47 For a Few Dollars More (1965)
#48 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D (2015)
#49 Home Alone (1990)
#50 Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)
#51 Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942)
#52 Airplane! (1980)

Yes, I did — but only just: I watched Airplane on December 31st.

It’s been about 25 years since I last watched Home Alone. It’s not a bad kids’ film, is it? I’d forgotten how little of it is actually the famous stuff with the burglary and the traps.

My full review of Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon from 2008 is linked above, which I mostly stand by (I found Lionel Atwill’s Moriarty less underpowered now), but it’s also worth noting that this time I watched a colourised version. I jotted a couple of thoughts about that in my Letterboxd diary here.

Speaking of which, there are also a couple of notes on my Force Awakens rewatch here.


Everything kicks off again, for the 12th time.

Before that: all the stats and lists pertaining to my 2017 viewing.

The Global Monthly Update for November 2017

Multiple helpings of Eastern action, French sci-fi, German horror, South American-themed Disney, a double-dose of Batman and, appropriately, a 3D trio all feature in my viewing for the penultimate month of 2017.


#152 Candyman (1992)
#153 Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)
#154 Awakenings (1990)
#155 Rurouni Kenshin 3: The Legend Ends (2014), aka Rurōni Kenshin: Densetsu no Saigo-hen
#156 Passengers 3D (2016)
#157 Justice League (2017)
#158 The Great Wall 3D (2016)
#159 Zatoichi the Fugitive (1963), aka Zatôichi kyôjô-tabi
#160 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 3D (2017)
#161 Saludos Amigos (1942)
#162 Tea for Two (1950)
#163 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), aka Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
The Great Wall

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

.


  • 12 new films this month mean that November isn’t 2017’s worst (a dishonour retained by September’s 10), but it’s far from its best (it’s 9th out of 11).
  • That’s below the 2017 average (previously 15.1, now 14.8) and the rolling average for the last 12 months (previously 14.58, now 14.42). Oh well.
  • On the bright side, it beats my November average, in the process raising it from 8.44 to 8.8. That means it’s still one of three months with an all-time average below 10, but if I watch 11 films in November 2018 then that’ll change.
  • Also, further to what I was saying in July about dates on which I’ve never watched a film, November 4th is now also struck off the list. Hurrah!
  • Zatoichi the Fugitive is my second Zatoichi film this year. That means that since I started watching the 25-film series in 2013 I’ve averaged… 0.8 films a year. Oh dear. If I maintain that rate I won’t finish until 2044.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: supposedly the first true horror film and the most famous example of German expressionism, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. While it’s very atmospheric, I don’t think it entirely holds up.
  • No WDYMYHS film this month. There’s only one left though, so next month it is.



The 30th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
This month wasn’t an all-timer for quality — while I did enjoy most of the films I watched, very little jumps forward as a solid gold favourite. It comes down to a toss-up between two 2017 releases that each met with critical indifference but which I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy very much, especially with 3D really showing off their spectacle. On balance, I think the more interesting was Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
In a mirror image to the above, there was nothing truly terrible. This category is considerably easier to decide on, though, because I was so thoroughly disappointed by Batman vs. Two-Face.

Most Underrated ’90s Film of the Month
Sure, not enough people talk about Awakenings (as I wrote in my review), but I was even more surprised to find that Candyman is a highly atmospheric horror movie that deserves to be better remembered.

Biggest Missed Obvious Solution of the Month
Considering they reshot almost all of his scenes anyway, they should’ve just had Superman be reborn with Henry Cavill’s silly moustache in Justice League. I mean, maybe it wouldn’t’ve been a good idea, but it’d’ve been a laugh.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For the fifth time this year, this award goes to the TV roundup. The headliner, and undoubtedly what attracted the most views, was Stranger Things 2. Also in the post was Peaky Blinders series three — another series that I know draws a lot of hits. It was further bolstered by covering Red Dwarf XII and an episode of Rick and Morty, plus Arrow, Bounty Hunters, Castle, Detectorists, The Flash, The Good Place, and Upstart Crow. (The highest new film review was Justice League at 9th.)



#41 Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
#42 Baby Driver (2017)
#43 Spider-Man: Homecoming 3D (2017)
#44 Men in Black (1997)
#45 Men in Black II (2002)

I hadn’t intended to embark on the Men in Black trilogy, particularly, but at a loss one night I settled on rewatching the first because why not? That led to the sequel, but not the third as yet. I’ve never seen it, so maybe next month.


I’ve written a list, I’m checking it twice — not of who’s been naughty or nice, but of films I intended to watch in 2017 and haven’t got round to yet. La La Land, Your Name, the new Beauty and the Beast… it goes on much longer than that. How many will I get through?

Plus: thirteen days to go ’til a galaxy far, far away…

The Duological Monthly Update for September 2017

Well, I don’t know about you, but September flew by — it doesn’t feel like we can be in the last quarter of the year already. But here we are.

Two weeks ago I posted a mid-month update that noted September was behind average and asked the question, “could this be the first month in over three years to not reach the ten-film threshold?” Well…


#119 Antz (1998)
#120 Vintage Tomorrows (2015)
#121 Lions for Lambs (2007)
#122 Guardians (2017), aka Zashchitniki
#123 Life (2017)
#124 T2 Trainspotting (2017)
#125 Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
#126 Yojimbo (1961), aka Yôjinbô
#127 Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013)
#128 Black Swan (2010)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
.


  • So, the answer to the mid-month question: no. I watched exactly ten new films this month, maintaining that double-figure minimum for the 40th consecutive month.
  • However, that does make it the lowest month of 2017. It also failed to reach the September average (previously 11.78, now 11.6), the rolling average for the last 12 months (previously 14.25, now 13.83), and the average for 2017 to date (previously 14.75, now 14.2).
  • Part of the reason for this shortfall is I’ve been making more of an effort with my Rewatchathon. More on that later.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Akira Kurosawa’s pre-make of A Fistful of Dollars, the superb samurai movie Yojimbo.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: with everyone getting in a tizzy about mother!, I thought it was a good time to finally get round to Black Swan. No idea what I’ll make of Aronofsky’s new one (I’ll catch it on Blu-ray or something), but I thought Black Swan was fantastic.
  • This month’s titular adjective comes from the fact I watched Trainspotting 1 and 2, Kingsman 1 and 2, and Wayne’s World 1 and 2. Just a coincidence, that. Shame I didn’t watch Sanjuro ‘n’ all, really.



The 28th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
When I eventually get round to reviewing them, there’s a couple of films this month that will likely get the full five stars. Neither of those were the most enjoyable experience I had in front of a screen this month, though. That honour goes to Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I don’t know what I expected, but it turns out a Russian superhero movie whose trailer went viral purely because it featured a bear wielding a machine-gun wasn’t actually the basis for a great film. Sorry, Guardians.

Best Poster of the Month
Eh, sod any of these films’ posters — documentary Drew: The Man Behind the Poster is stuffed full with some of the greatest movie posters of all time, all painted by Drew Struzan, of course. For me, his three posters for the Back to the Future trilogy take some beating.

Best Dance Scene of the Month
Natalie Portman may have undergone a tonne of personally-funded training so she could do 80% of Black Swan’s ballet sequences for real, but she’s got nothing on Channing Tatum’s poison-induced moves in Kingsman.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For whatever reason, this is by the far the lowest-ranked most-viewed new post of the year so far: previous ones have all been in the top ten most-viewed posts for their month (surrounded by posts that weren’t new, obviously), but September’s victor was down at 16th. And for the fourth time this year, it was a TV review; specifically, my thoughts on the Twin Peaks season 3 finale. (The highest new film review was Kingsman: The Golden Circle, in 23rd overall.)



As I mentioned above, this was a good month for my Rewatchathon; in fact, it’s tied with May as the best so far.

#29 Jumanji (1995)
#30 Godzilla (1998)
#31 Trainspotting (1996)
#32 Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
#33 A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
#34 Wayne’s World (1992)
#35 Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

Lots of films I’ve been meaning to re-watch since my childhood this month — Jumanji, Godzilla, Wayne’s World — all films I watched on or close to their original release but haven’t seen since.

Godzilla was also my latest attempt at watching something in 4K. I’m beginning to come to the opinion that 4K does actually look better than 1080p, but, Jesus, it’s hard to tell. When I switched from SD to HD the difference was like night and day (that’s not the case for everyone, I know — some people either can’t tell or don’t care enough to notice), but from HD to UHD it’s like, “Is it better? It might be… I think…?” Maybe a side-by-side comparison would make this clear, but I’ve not been arsed to set one up. I think I’ll continue to get the 4K option when I subscribe to Netflix in the future, but I certainly have no plans to invest in a new Blu-ray player or start re-purchasing (or even initial-purchasing) my collection on 4K discs.


Party like it’s 2049.

The Deathly Monthly Update for August 2017

It’s been a quiet summer here at 100 Films


#108 Shin Godzilla (2016), aka Shin Gojira
#109 This is the End (2013)
#110 Death Note (2006), aka Desu Nôto
#111 Nashville (1975)
#112 Death Note: The Last Name (2006), aka Desu Nôto: the Last name
#113 The Girl on the Train (2016)
#114 21 (2008)
#115 Death Note (2017)
#116 Eddie the Eagle (2016)
#117 Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)
#118 Into the Woods (2014)
Shin Godzilla

Eddie the Eagle

.


  • With 11 new films, August has the lowest total for any month of 2017 to date.
  • It’s below the August average (previously 11.78, now 11.7), the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 14.6, now 14.25), and the 2017 average (previously 15.3, now 14.75).
  • With such low numbers, other stats can rack up quickly: over a quarter of films were from Japan, another over-a-quarter were Death Note movies, and just under a fifth starred Emily Blunt.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: the film that established Robert Altman’s trademark ensemble style, Nashville.
  • No WDYMYHS film this month. There are only 10 of them, so two months were always going to go without. August is the first of those.



The 27th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
It was kind of an unremarkable month quality-wise as well as numbers-wise this August — plenty of films I liked, some I even liked quite a bit, but few that I loved. The exception would be Shin Godzilla, which seems to have a mixed response generally but I was this close to giving five stars.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
To repeat myself: it was kind of an unremarkable month, which also means there was nothing remarkably bad. That said, Netflix’s remake of Death Note was a disappointment. I don’t care about its relocation to America, I don’t even care that it wasn’t especially faithful to the original characters, I just care that it wasn’t very good in its own right.

Biggest Dick of the Month
Satan may rock up with a giant schlong in This is the End, but he’s got stiff competition (er, as it were) from James Franco, especially as James Franco is playing James Franco. But they’re both beaten by Light Yagami, who as well as being a cocky little shit (spoilers!) murders his completely innocent and perfectly sweet girlfriend just to prove he’s not a murderous psychopath. What a dick.

Least-True True Story of the Month
Eddie the Eagle may’ve invented a character out of thin air to be its hero’s coach, thereby completely changing the story of how he trained to compete in the Olympics — or “the whole story of the film” — but it’s got nothing on 21. The Vegas heist drama makes massive changes to the non-fiction book it’s based on that include simplifying the card counting system (the central point of the film), setting it in the present day (when surveillance technology would prevent them doing what they do), changing the characters’ ethnicities (whitewashing!), and, er, inventing half of the events that happen to them. Compound that with the fact the “non-fiction” book it’s based on is itself half made-up and you’ve got a film that’s roughly as historically accurate as Game of Thrones.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For the third time this year, this film blog’s most-read new post was about TV: The Past Month on TV #21, which covered Top of the Lake: China Girl, Game of Thrones episodes 2-5, Twin Peaks episodes 11-14, Line of Duty series 3, Peaky Blinders series 2, and more. (The highest film review was in (a fairly distant) second, and was something some people would argue is also a TV review: Netflix’s Death Note.)



My Rewatchathon continues to toddle along at a reasonable pace, but quite far behind where it ought to be — I should be well into the 30s at this point. As my titular goal has flourished for the past few years, this is making me remember the days when it was a struggle…

#25 The Fugitive (1993)
#26 Ghost in the Shell 3D (2017)
#27 Arrival (2016)
#28 Jaws (1975)

As well as my full cinema review of Ghost in the Shell (linked above), I posted a few thoughts after my rewatch on Letterboxd.


2017 moves into my top five best-ever years (probably).

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

.


  • 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 Blue Rose Monthly Update for May 2017

What does it mean?

Twin Peaks' blue rose

What does it mean?!


#63 Nightcrawler (2014)
#64 Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
#65 Four Lions (2010)
#66 Blair Witch (2016)
#67 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
#68 Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014)
#69 Alien: Covenant (2017)
#70 Twin Peaks (1990), aka Twin Peaks: Pilot (International Version)
#71 Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), aka Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
#72 Underworld: Blood Wars 3D (2016)
#73 The Accountant (2016)
#74 A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
#75 New Tale of Zatoichi (1963), aka Shin Zatôichi monogatari
Nightcrawler

A Matter of Life and Death

.


  • 13 new films watched this month. That’s the same as April, though slightly down on the 2017 average (15.5, now exactly 15).
  • This is the 36th consecutive month where I watched 10 or more new films — that’s three solid years since a month with nine or fewer.
  • By the end of May last year I’d reached #101, the earliest I’d ever passed 100. This year I’m on track to do it in July, which would equal 2015 for second-earliest.
  • Does that indicate anything for my final total? Well… no. The last two years prove that conclusively. Looking at the end of June (i.e. the halfway point), in 2016 I’d reached #115, but, rather than make it to #230, I ended the year at #195. However, in 2015 I finished June at just #90, but, rather than stop at #180, I got all the way to #200.
  • Back to the here and now, I had a bit of a franchise frenzy this month: including my rewatchathon (see below), I watched two Prometheuses, two Underworlds, five Pirates of the Caribbeans, and made five feature-length trips to the world of Twin Peaks (the three films above and the opening double-bills of the new series, of course).
  • This month’s Blindspot film: the fantastic British fantasy romance A Matter of Life and Death, a film which, if anything, is underrated. It’s certainly in need of a UK and/or US Blu-ray release.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Jake Gyllenhaal gives an incredible performance in neo-noir thriller Nightcrawler, which UK readers still have a few days left to catch on iPlayer.



The 24th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Not a bad month, but my shortlist of favourites quickly came down to two (see the posters accompanying the viewing list). For me, the edge goes to the aforementioned neo-noir starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler. You can read my full review here.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
This also quickly came down to two options, both of them ’90s franchise revivals that disappointed. I feel like it’s “more fool me” for expecting anything good from ID4-2, but I felt like the early buzz and behind-the-scenes pedigree of Blair Witch should have delivered. I’m still a bit excited for Adam Wingard doing Godzilla vs. Kong, though.

Worst Retitling of the Month
Salazar’s Revenge may be less evocative than Dead Men Tell No Tales (though, arguably, more relevant to the actual movie… but only a bit — that film’s busy with plots), but don’t worry, Pirates 5, you’re safe when this clanger’s about: the beautiful A Matter of Life and Death was bluntly renamed Stairway to Heaven in the US thanks to its main special effect. And you thought US cinema’s monomaniacal focus on effects movies was a recent thing.

Biggest Unanswered Question of the Month
How is Annie?!

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the new Pirates of the Caribbean may have both walked all over it at the box office, but it seems people were much more interested in what I had to say about Alien: Covenant. Guardians 2 did come second, but it was with precisely 25% as many views.



May turned out to be my best Rewatchathon month so far, nearly doubling the number of films I’ve revisited this year. As you can see, a lot of that was actually thanks to new movies that were coming out…

#9 Back to the Future (1985)
#10 Prometheus 3D (2012)
#11 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
#12 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
#13 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
#14 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D (2011)
#15 Underworld Awakening 3D (2011)

Well, whatever works.

Anyway, I’m still not on track for where I should be (an average rate of 4.3 films per month means I should be at #22 by now), but I’m a lot closer than I was.


Inevitable disappointment in the general election. (Rest of the world: we’re having an election, did you know? Apparently you’ve not noticed. Nor should you, really.)

As for cinema, well, the big new films include that Tom Cruise Mummy movie and the new Transformers.

I’ll pin my hopes on Blu-ray, then…

Prometheus 3D (2012)

Rewatchathon 2017 #10
Ridley Scott | 124 mins | Blu-ray | 2.40:1 | USA & UK / English | 15 / R

Prometheus 3D

80 years in the future, a starmap found in some caveman paintings provokes a trillion-dollar mission to the other side of the universe so that the world’s stupidest scientists can (spoilers!) get themselves killed.

It is, by complete coincidence, 4½ years to the day since I first and last watched Prometheus, and this revisit has of course been inspired by its just-released follow-up, Prometheus 2: Extraterrestrial Boogaloo Alien: Covenant, which I’m seeing tomorrow. Frankly, most of my original thoughts on the film still stand. To summarise: it has some really good bits, but then it stops making sense and turns into a braindead blockbuster that doesn’t bother to properly explain its own plot, never mind the potentially-interesting sci-fi ideas it initiated early on. Apparently the Blu-ray’s deleted scenes do clarify some of the plot holes and gaps in character motivation, but other stuff is just plain stupidity on the part of the characters. Or, rather, the writers. Well, one of the writers, at least.

But despite my basic opinion not changing, I’m posting about Prometheus again because this was the first time I watched it in 3D. Hailing from those brief couple of years where the term “post-conversion” was blasphemous, Prometheus was genuinely shot in 3D — and, however good post-conversion has become since then, I think parts of this film make a case for why doing things properly is still best. But I’ll come to that.

Building busy bridges

In general, Ridley Scott’s 3D mise en scène is exemplary, almost always placing objects and characters at various distances from the camera to emphasise and clarify the sense of depth. The busy layout of the Prometheus’ bridge helps this no end, making scenes set there some of the clearest examples. Even on less populous sets, Scott finds angles and compositions that offer nice dimensionality without slipping into being a vacuous 3D showcase. He frequently uses glass to good effect, creating an obvious separation between the clear material — be it a window, a spacesuit helmet, or a sleeping pod — and what’s on the other side, almost casually adding extra layers to any shot they appear in.

In terms of show-off effects, Scott never breaks the ‘window’ of the screen by having things poke out at the viewer, but there are still scenes where the extra dimension is really felt. The storm sequences are a perfect example, with bits of debris flying around all over the place. In-film computer elements like holograms or displays have their own shapely presence in front of, around, and distinct from the physical world they’re part of, making them seem all the more real. Perhaps most of all, the room-filling Engineer star chart David discovers looks great in 3D. My memory of it from the 2D version is an indecipherable array of lights filling the screen, which is probably because it was all perfectly in focus for the sake of the 3D. With that extra dimension, it looks like something worth marvelling at.

Maps to the stars

Having been shot ‘for real’, the 3D just gives everything, even dialogue scenes, a sense of space and distance. You can appreciate the gap between someone’s head and the neck-back of their spacesuit; or, in close-ups, the distinct (but not in-your-face) distance between someone’s nose and eyes and hair. Perhaps the most impressive element are textures, like the hieroglyphs David finds cut into rock, or even characters’ skin — at times you can ‘feel’ its surface, its pockmarks and pores. However good post conversions are, I’m not sure they’re ever that thorough!

Watching in 3D is never going to gloss over Prometheus’ more fundamental flaws — it’s never going to make up for issues with the screenplay or the edit (that said, I’ve heard it makes Transformers 4 considerably more entertaining, so maybe “never” is too strong a word). What you do get is a sense that effort was made to make the 3D experience worthwhile. It may be an inessential component of the movie (a virtual necessity when there will always be people watching in 2D, of course), but it’s one that nonetheless adds an appreciable extra dimension.

3 out of 5

Alien: Covenant is out in the half the world (including the UK) now, and is released in the other half (including the US) from Thursday.

The General Unselfish Love for Everyone Monthly Update for April 2017

Chai-ai-ain, keep us together…

Any excuse to get some Fleetwood Mac on loop.


#50 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
#51 The BFG (2016)
#52 War on Everyone (2016)
#53 Dazed and Confused (1993)
#54 Now You See Me 2 (2016)
#55 Nocturnal Animals (2016)
#56 The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
#57 The Magnificent Seven (2016)
#58 Sully (2016), aka Sully: Miracle on the Hudson
#59 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
#60 The 39 Steps (1935)
#61 Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
#62 Split (2016)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Nocturnal Animals

.


  • I watched 13 new films this April, making it the lowest month of 2017 so far (but only by one).
  • It falls short of the average for the last 12 months (previously 14.75, now 14.08), and of 2017’s average to date (previously 16.3, now 15.5), but it does drag the April average up from 9.67 to precisely 10. (That leaves just June, July, and November as months with averages below 10.)
  • This month’s Blindspot film: one of Hitchcock’s definitive early works, solving the mystery of The 39 Steps.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: underwhelming Oscar-winning rom-com Silver Linings Playbook.



The 23rd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A lot of films vie for my affection this month. I was charmed by a friendly giant, found Tom Ford’s latest to be pleasantly provocative, enjoyed some magnificent gunslinging, was thrilled by classic Hitchcock, and chilled by Shyamalan’s return to form. But, to slightly modify this award to “most surprisingly among my favourite films of the month”, one film caught me unawares more than any other: I confess that I half expected to hate Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, what with its lead character seeming like a dick ‘n’ all, but the skill of writer-director John Hughes is not to be underestimated.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Richard Linklater set out to make an anti John Hughes movies with Dazed and Confused, and I guess he succeeded based on this neat little favourite/least favourite mirroring we’ve got here.

Best Pilot in the Galaxy
Star-Lord and Rocket can bicker about it all they want, but neither can hold a candle to Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger.

End Credits Scene I’m Most Annoyed I Had Spoiled
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may have five (five) scenes during its credits, but they’re all a bit something-and-nothing (I can’t even remember what was in them all now, and I only saw it three days ago). But that scene at the end of Split (it comes after the second title card, so I think we can argue it’s in the end credits)… damn, I wish that hadn’t been widely reported all over the shop and I’d instead been able to discover it in situ. That said, it’s so well constructed that it gave me a tingle of long-awaited excitement nonetheless.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Since I’ve started posting my content on IMDb my TV reviews have really taken off in the hits. It’s the latest one of these, The Past Month on TV #16 (in which I shared my thoughts on the likes of Doctor Who, Iron Fist, The Crown, and Twin Peaks), that takes this month’s gong. (My most-viewed new film review was Don’t Breathe.)



Back to just one rewatch this month, which I reviewed at the time:

#8 Guardians of the Galaxy 3D (2014)

This is not going to plan.


We’ll see if the new Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Men Tell No Tales Salazar’s Revenge, is the return to form that they’re claiming. And La La Land makes it to Blu-ray over here, so I’ll finally see it.