The Man Who Killed the Monthly Review of September 2020

This month started off strong: reaching #200 (for only the third time ever); watching plenty of films; posting a lot of reviews… but then it tapered off on all fronts. Partly this is because I’ve found myself back in the employ of FilmBath Festival — yes, even in this crazy COVID world, we’re putting on a film festival. Plus an online offering that will be accessible nationwide… but shh, that’s not been officially announced yet! More details in the coming weeks.

For now, back to the last month on this blog…


#199 All Is True (2018)
#200 In the Mood for Love (2000), aka Fa yeung nin wah
#201 Anand (1971)
#202 Ikiru (1952)
#203 The Man Who Sleeps (1974), aka Un homme qui dort
#204 All About Eve (1950)
#205 A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019)
#206 Vice (2018)
#207 The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
#208 For the Love of Spock (2016)
#209 Guinevere (1994)
#210 Blind Fury (1989)
#211 Waking Ned (1998)
#212 Out of Africa (1985)
#213 The Hippopotamus (2017)
#214 Enola Holmes (2020)
#215 Fanny and Alexander (1982), aka Fanny och Alexander
#216 The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
#217 Lost in La Mancha (2002)
#218 He Dreams of Giants (2019)
Anand

Farmageddon

Fanny and Alexander

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  • I watched 20 new feature films in September.
  • That makes it my 25th month with 20+ films, and my first 20+ September in five years.
  • It surpasses my September average (previously 11.9, now 12.5) and the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 18.9, now 19.9), but falls short of 2020’s average to date (previously 24.75, now 24.2).
  • Early in the month I reached my 200th film for this year. I wrote about the history and stats of that achievement here.
  • Moving beyond #200 means 2020 is already my second biggest year ever, with three months still to go
  • #218 is the furthest I’ve reached by the end of September (my previous best was #206 in 2018), meaning a new all-time record is not impossible — but there are still 44 films to go to get there, more than double the number I watched in October-to-December last year.

As for the films themselves…

  • Back in July, I identified that Vice was the only film I needed to see to complete the last five years of Oscar Best Picture nominees (that’s 43 films). So, now I’ve done that, it’s on to the last decade of the same (which is 88 films), for which I still need to watch another ten. Let’s see how long that takes…
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (see the Arbies for more about this).
  • This month I watched four Blindspot films. That makes it sound like I’m doing it very, very wrong, but allow me to explain.
  • Firstly, I needed to catch up for missing one last month — that was In the Mood for Love.
  • Then I needed to watch one for this month, of course — that was Ingmar Bergman’s magnum opus, Fanny and Alexander.
  • Then you may remember I had a list of eight ‘overflow’ films to also consider watching — this month, I watched two, Ikiru and All About Eve.
  • So, I’m now back on track for the main list and over halfway through the overflow. But I’ll still need to watch exactly one overflow film a month (in addition to a main list film) for the rest of the year if I want to finish all 20.



The 64th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Rather spoilt for choice this month, what with four Blindspot films that mostly lived up to expectations, plus several other great and/or very enjoyable movies too. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Fanny and Alexander — I’ve not always got on with Ingmar Bergman’s films before, so his over-three-hour magnum opus could’ve been horrific for me, but I actually thought it was fantastic.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Un homme qui dort? More like Un homme qui t’endort.

Best Blind Swordsman of the Month
I had intended to save Blind Fury until after I’d finished the Zatoichi series (which I really should have done by now, but I’ve let various things get in the way). For those who don’t know, it’s a modern-day US-set remake of Zatoichi Challenged — a thoroughly bizarre idea, so it seemed best to leave it until I was done with the series proper. But then I noticed it was leaving Amazon Prime imminently, so I decided I’d better get on it. Such are the ways of the streaming era. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it was more fun than I expected.

Most Debatable Viewing Order of the Month
I’ve owned acclaimed (un)making-of documentary Lost in La Mancha on DVD but never got round to watching it — so long, in fact, that Terry Gilliam was finally able to actually make the film it’s about, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, and it’s now streaming on Sky. The makers of La Mancha also documented that successful effort, in a new film called He Dreams of Giants, which I recently had access to a screener for. So the question became: which order to watch them in? I’m not sure the one I plumped for (see #216–218) was the right way to go about it, but then neither of the alternatives (La ManchaDon QuixoteGiants; or La ManchaGiantsDon Quixote) seemed perfect either, so this was as good as any. In fact, with hindsight, I think it might have been the best way — watching the docs before the resultant feature would’ve set too many unnecessary expectations.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For only the third time this year (there have been other years where it happened most months), my most-viewed new post was my latest TV column. (The most-viewed film post was, as befits its status as a modern masterpiece, my review of Love on a Leash.)



The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies have made up over a third of my Rewatchathon so far this year. With them finished, there’s now a hole where they used to be as a go-to choice, meaning my pace has slipped slightly… but I’m still currently on target for 50 by the end of the year, so that’s okay (for now).

#38 Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
#39 Mission: Impossible II (2000)

I wrote my review of Jodorowsky’s Dune after that rewatch, so my Letterboxd log adds little more than that I enjoyed it more second time round.

M:I-2 is a different kettle of fish: you can find my latest opinion of the film itself on Letterboxd (short version: I still really like it). As for its place in the Rewatchathon, it continues my rewatch of the Mission: Impossible movies in 4K that I started back in May. Then I mentioned that it’s the first two films that feature the biggest upgrades in PQ with their 4K transfers. M:I-1 is the more strikingly good-looking film, but this one looks great most of the time too. The downsides are that the overall improvement reveals how much softness there is in some of the original photography, and skin tones look too hot in a couple of scenes (though I couldn’t quite be sure if I needed to fiddle with my TV settings, or if it was the transfer’s fault, or just the way the film was shot). Still, a resounding improvement over the old Blu-ray.


The reopening of cinemas continues with Bill & Ted Face the Music making its UK debut on the big screen only, and… that’s probably it: Tenet’s underperformance at the US box office has the studios running scared again. Bond is still on schedule for November, but will that hold? Only time will tell.

Another film that got a cinema release in some territories was Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan. Of course, it went direct to streaming everywhere that Disney+ is available, and that includes the UK, even though our cinemas are open. £20 vs a £6 cinema ticket? Hmm… Anyway, I guess that didn’t do well either, given that Disney have moved the rest of their big titles into 2021 rather than send them to Disney+ too.

Also on streaming, Netflix had a couple of big originals in the shape of Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things and The Devil All the Time. Both set Film Twitter and Letterboxd abuzzing, but I haven’t been in the mindset for their heaviness yet. There was also the hugely controversial Cuties, which is a debate I’m not interested in reigniting, and they ended the month with a new adaptation of gay play The Boys in the Band. Also catching my eye on Netflix were a string of titles I’ve bought on Blu-ray but not got round to watching: First Man, The Handmaiden, the new Halloween… Shame on me. (They’ve also added various things I have seen and reviewed, of course, but that’s not the point of this section.)

Over on Amazon, no brand-new films that I could see, but they did have the streaming premieres of Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen and acclaimed crime drama Queen & Slim. They’ve also now got Crazy Rich Asians, after it ended its time on Now TV / Sky Cinema. Talking of which, after having a subscription to that for most of the year — first for the Oscars, then via a series of free and heavily discounted months — I cancelled it at the start of this month because it was going to be full price, only for them to now offer me a free month. Additions there this month include The Good Liar, Motherless Brooklyn, and Judy.

BBC iPlayer’s also had a pretty strong slate of movies recently, including recent-ish titles moving in from other streamers (Molly’s Game, I, Tonya) and HD versions of classics (Doctor Zhivago, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, etc). Also, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, which I’ve not seen for a very long time indeed and ought to take the chance to rewatch in HD (that feels like the kind of film that’s due a 4K release from someone like Arrow, but who holds the rights I don’t know).

Finally, my disc purchases were a lot calmer than last month’s 54 films. It’s taken five years, but I finally completed my collection of the “Top 5 Films I Hadn’t Heard of Before Watching The Story of Film But Now Really Want to See” by importing the US release of Hyenas. I managed to find a copy of Doctor Sleep with the director’s cut included (if I’d realised they really meant it when they said it was “limited edition”, I’d’ve bought it sooner! After being out of stock on HMV’s website for months, they seem to have found some additional copies, so fortunately I only paid normal price for it). Rewatching Jodorowsky’s Dune inspired me to purchase Arrow’s new Jodorowsky box set, which I fear I may regret (his films aren’t half odd looking), but there we go (knowing me, I’ll not get round to them for years / ever anyway).

I also picked up… Bullitt (primarily for one of its special features, feature documentary The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing) … the US 4K release of anime Ghost in the Shell (though I accidentally ended up with two copies, so I need to get that on eBay) … and re-bought all three Ghostbusters films (the original pair in a new-to-the-UK 4K box set, which duplicates the discs from last year’s limited and expensive US 35th anniversary set; and the 2016 reboot in 3D, which I got brand-new for £1.50. The fact most people have given up on 3D is a boon for those of us who haven’t).


October means one thing for some people: Halloween. I doubt I’ll be so singularly focused (I never have been before — why start now?), and I’m not even sure what I’ll do for the day itself (because it is just a day, not a season, or even a month — sorry, people). Between 2015 and 2019 I spent it covering the Twilight saga, but I finished that last year (thank God) so need a new notion. Although there’s always that Twilight spoof — which, according to IMDb voters, is the 46th worst film of all time, ranking lower than any real Twilight film. Dare I brave the horror?

Si vis pacem, para menstruum review Septembris MMXIX

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

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

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


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

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

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



The 52nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Some Letterboxd thoughts on each are linked to above.


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

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

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


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

The “Oh My God, I Can’t Believe It” Monthly Update for September 2018

Oh my god, I can’t believe it —
I’ve never seen this many films before!

For only the second time, 100 Films in a Year has reached 200 films in a year…

…and — for the first time ever — beyond!


#188 Sartana’s Here… Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin (1970), aka C’è Sartana… vendi la pistola e comprati la bara!
#189 Lost in Space (1998)
#190 Skyline (2010)
#191 April and the Extraordinary World (2015), aka Avril et le monde truqué
#192 The Tree of Life (2011)
#193 I Kill Giants (2018)
#194 Compulsion (1959)
#195 The Hunt (2012), aka Jagten
#196 Heathers (1988)
#197 Courage Under Fire (1996)
#198 Gods of Egypt 3D (2016)
#199 Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966), aka Zatôichi no uta ga kikoeru
#200 Sholay (1975)
#201 Network (1976)
#202 Mary and Max (2009)
#203 Ran (1985)
#204 Step Brothers (2008)
#205 Before Midnight (2013)
#206 Rocky V (1990)
April and the Extraordinary World

Heathers

Before Midnight

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  • September adds 19 films to 2018’s tally, in the process taking it past the final totals of both 2016 (195) and 2015 (200) to make it my biggest year ever!

*ahem*

So, back in 2015, after I reached my highest ever final total, I felt fairly certain that would never be beaten. It had been a push to get there, and I was determined to spend more time on things besides watching new films. Well, I haven’t done nearly as much other stuff as I’d hoped, but my film tally did drop slightly over the next few years (195 in 2016; 174 in 2017), plus starting my side goal of the Rewatchathon would surely steal numbers from the main tally.

And yet here we are: at the end of September — with a whole 25% of the year left to go — and I’ve already surpassed that 200 total. Oh, and I’ve watched 38 films towards this year’s Rewatchathon, too.

How has this happened? Goodness only knows. Whether the remainder of the year will keep up this pace, which would land me with a final tally in excess of 270 films… well, I don’t know that either. It seems unlikely, given that both August and September have had totals well down on the giddy heights of April and May (my two biggest months of all time). Nonetheless, a total in the 230s is a likely minimum, with 250+ not improbable — both far in excess of what I once thought possible (considering that, in two of this blog’s first six years, I failed to even make 100). What I will predict is that I won’t achieve these kinds of numbers ever again. But then, I said that last time…

Anyway, back to notes about this month in particular:

  • As I said, I watched 19 new films this month, which surpasses the September average (previously 11.6, now 12.3), but falls just short of the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 20.3, now 21), as well as 2018’s average to date (previously 23.4, now 22.9).
  • Rewinding to the start of the month for a moment, I watched a film on September 2nd, crossing another date off my list of “never seen a film on”s. That just leaves three to complete: January 5th, May 23rd, and December 22nd.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Danish wrongfully-accused drama The Hunt, a film whose story will surely induce righteous anger in any viewer — which is not a criticism.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Akira Kurosawa’s feudal Japan-set adaptation of King Lear, and his final samurai epic, Ran. It’s testament to Kurosawa’s magnificence that he made a movie this great but I wouldn’t even put it in his top five.
  • One film I didn’t watch this month was The Shape of Water. Having to wait so long for a chance to see it (it disappeared from cinemas near me in a flash, and the UK Blu-ray release came over three months after the US) seems to have accidentally put it on my back burner: it’s been on disc here since the end of June and I’ve still not got round to it. Maybe next month — after all, it is a monster movie.



The 40th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched six or seven five-star films this month (one’s still wavering between a four and a five), which makes this a tricky proposition, especially as I really enjoyed some of the four-star ones too. Heck, I had a lot of fun watching Gods of Egypt, and I gave that three stars! It’s not my favourite film of the month, though. I’m going to bestow that honour on Heathers, which I finally got round to seeing thanks to Arrow’s 4K-restored Blu-ray release. Not only does it look fantastic, it’s a great black comedy too.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Now, here’s a toughie: I watched two of the worst films I’ve seen all year back-to-back at the start of the month. I won’t be surprised if they both make the year-end bottom five. But, of the two, the one I liked least was Lost in Space, because at least Skyline is trying to do something interesting, whereas Lost in Space just squanders its blockbuster budget on being shit.

Best Fight of the Month
Tussles galore between giants, gods, and armies of Japanese warriors this month, but none were so gruelling as Celine and Jesse verbally slugging it out in Before Midnight.

Old Film That’s Still Pertinent Today of the Month
Media satire Network is 42 years old now, but I’m pretty sure you could take its screenplay, change only a couple of minor words, and film it as being set today.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For the fifth time this year, my monthly TV review was victorious in this category. I usually attribute this to referrals from IMDb, and the biggest contributor for this month’s column appears to have been Bodyguard. (The most-viewed new film review was Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.)



A massive six rewatches this month, both catching up on the shortfall left after last month and surging ahead into next month’s ‘allowance’.

#33 Darkman (1990)
#34 Avengers: Infinity War 3D (2018)
#35 Solo: A Star Wars Story 3D (2018)
#36 Before Sunrise (1995)
#37 Before Sunset (2004)
#38 Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

I feel like someday I need to coalesce into words why I love Darkman — I only wrote a drabble after my first viewing, and I don’t feel like expounding on it right now, but it’s a really good fun pulp sci-fi/horror/superhero noir.

Avengers: Infinity War is a slightly less mind-blowing experience when you know all the twists and developments — it’s one of those films where the first viewing may always be the best thanks to the surprises and reveals having a tangible impact — but it still holds up as a one-of-a-kind epic, full of excitement, humour, and even emotion. I’m miffed they didn’t put the IMAX ratio on Blu-ray (and always will be — I’m still cross with Brad Bird about Ghost Protocol), but at least the 3D was fantastic.

Conversely, I definitely enjoyed Solo more on a second viewing, in part thanks to the better-managed expectations of having already seen it. It’s nowhere near the greatest Star Wars movie, but it’s a solid space adventure with many likeable touches. The 3D isn’t bad, but in terms of Fancy Modern Formats, I suspect Bradford Young’s notoriously dark photography would benefit more from UHD’s high dynamic range.

I’ve been meaning to (re)watch Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy since the third one came out on DVD (no Blu-ray on this side of the pond) five years ago. And I’ve been really meaning to do it since Criterion released them in a lovely Blu-ray box set a little over 18 months ago (that doesn’t sound so bad — I thought it was longer). Well, obviously, I’ve finally done it.

When I first watched the Before films in 2007 (only a duology back then), I was 21. I admired them both, but definitely preferred the first, Before Sunrise. Indeed, I was a little startled to realise I only gave it four stars in my original review. Now, it’s a firm five, and I’d say one of my favourite films of all time (it did place 28th in my 100 Favourites, but it would be higher now). However, consensus often seems to favour the second film, Before Sunset. I’ve always wondered if this is an age thing: when I first watched them, I was close to the age of the characters in the first film, whereas many critics contributing to said consensus would’ve been closer to the characters’ age in the sequel. Well, now I’m 32, and I certainly identified with the sequel a lot more this time than I did back then. I probably still prefer the first, on balance — it now comes loaded with nostalgia for being in your early 20s — but I consider the sequel to be more-or-less its equal.

And what of the third film, Before Midnight? Well, I’ll publish a full review at some point…


It’s October, which means only one thing here at 100 Films: the sheer terror of The Twilight Saga!

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
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  • 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 Mid-Month Update for the Middle of September 2017

Hello, dear reader! How are you? Well, I hope. Me? Can’t complain.

That said, you may have noticed it’s been a tad quiet here of late. (Or maybe you haven’t. That’s OK, I don’t blame you.) There’s no grand or exciting reason for that, I’m afraid — September’s just turned out to be a busier-than-average month ’round these parts, leaving precious little spare time for blogging.

Indeed, the fact it’s the middle of the month (a couple of days past, in fact) has snuck up on me somewhat. Thanks to that, September is trending behind average: with only four new films watched so far, could this be the first month in over three years to not reach the ten-film threshold? (Gasp!)

Anyway, things are hopefully calming down now, so regular reviewing should resume shortly…

The Slimline Monthly Update for September 2016

Keeping things to the point, this month.


#143 Ben-Hur (1959)
#144 Spotlight (2015)
#145 Midnight Special (2016)
#146 Rushmore (1998)
#147 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
#148 Tale of Tales (2015), aka Il racconto dei racconti
#149 Tokyo Tribe (2014)
#150 The Survivalist (2015)
#151 Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
#152 The Magnificent Seven (1960)
#153 Mr. Turner (2014)
#154 The Saint’s Return (1953), aka The Saint’s Girl Friday
#155 Westworld (1973)
#156 The Nice Guys (2016)
#157 Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Tokyo Tribe

The Nice Guys

.


  • 15 new films this month, which is exactly the same as in August, and the 28th consecutive month with 10+ films.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was right at the start, for a change. One of the definitive historical epics of classic Hollywood, it was the 1959 remake of Ben-Hur.



The 16th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched a couple of Best Picture winners in September, and a couple more that were nominated for the prize, but by far the most entertaining movie I saw this month was also the newest: Shane Black’s latest buddy action/thriller/comedy, The Nice Guys.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
No really bad films this month, but a few middling ones. A couple of those I didn’t expect all that much from and so wasn’t greatly surprised, but, after a tonne of hype in certain circles, I was a bit let down by Midnight Special.

The Dick Van Dyke Award for Performing with a Cockney Accent
Someone in Witness for the Prosecution, but I shan’t tell you who because if you’ve not seen it it might spoil it.

Least-Likely Catchiest Musical Refrain of the Month
Tokyo Tribe, never ever die! Tokyo Tribe, never ever die!

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Although a raft of challengers came close to deposing it, an early lead was set and maintained for this award by my review of Ben-Hur (1959 variety, of course).



This month: pirates, hitmen, Jedi, archaeologists, and sweet transvestites star in some of the most popular films of all time.


There’s an awful lot of TV on the way — will my film viewing suffer? (Cliffhanger!)

The Hyperbolic Monthly Update for September 2015

September 2015 has passed targets, smashed records, and wound up as the biggest month of 100 Films in a Year ever!

…maybe.

All will become clear…


When I started this year’s WDYMYHS theme, I was worried I would quickly watch the six “populist” films (due to them being accessible and easy viewing), and be left with all six “critical” films to squeeze in (due to them being Worthy and Arty and stuff). Things have panned out quite differently, however: after this month’s viewing, I’ve accounted for all but one of the “critical” films, while four of the “populist” ones remain. They’re mostly the Worthier end of populist though, so go figure.

Anyway, this month’s film was one that’s sometimes cited as being among the greatest ever made. I confess I wasn’t so enamoured with it, though it had its moments. It was Jean Vigo’s only full-length feature, L’Atalante.


North West Frontier#119 Go (1999)
#120 Murder by Death (1976)
#121 One-Eyed Monster (2008)
#122 The Swimmer (1968)
#123 They Live (1988)
#124 The Dark Crystal (1982)
#125 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Ed Wood#126 North West Frontier (1959), aka Flame Over India
#127 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
#128 Superbad (2007)
#129 What Dreams May Come (1998)
#130 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
#131 American Sniper (2014)
#132 Willow (1988)
#133 The Informant! (2009)
Filmed in Supermarionation#134 Ed Wood (1994)
#135 Filmed in Supermarionation (2014)
#136 Foxcatcher (2014)
#137 Boyz n the Hood (1991)
#138 L’Atalante (1934)
#139 Spooks: The Greater Good (2015)
#140 Terror by Night (1946)
#141 The Falling (2014)


  • Most months I watch a selection of films from the 2010s, topped up with a couple of films from the 2000s, and maybe an earlier decade getting a look in or two. That’s not a conscious choice, just how things usually pan out. September has gone quite differently, though: this month I watched films from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, as well as the 2010s (of course). Ooh, get me, right? But it’s notable for this reason if no other: that’s a better temporal spread in one month than I’ve managed in some entire years!
  • For what it’s worth, the 2010s still took the biggest share, with seven films — though in this particular month, that’s only 30.4%. Although they’re all Blu-ray or streaming views, five of them were only released to UK cinemas earlier this year… though two of those five were also big awards contenders from last year, so, you know, swings and roundabouts.
  • I’ve started so I’ll finish: to summarise the other decades, there were four apiece from the ’80s and ’90s (17.4% each), three from the 2000s (13%), and then one each for the rest.
  • #140, Terror by Night, is the penultimate Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movie. I’ve been slowly making my way through that series for most of this blog’s lifetime, and may now finish it this year. Maybe.


Even before we get into the regular “how does this compare to previous Septembers” and “what does this mean for the rest of the year” type stuff, there’s a lot to say about this month — multiple milestones have been passed.

So to tackle that claim from the introduction: last month, I’d’ve told you that December 2008 was my “best month ever” with 19 films. Now I’d tell you it’s my third best. What dark magic is this?! Well, with 23 films watched this month, September 2015 beats it and then some. However, I finally got round to going back through 2007, when I recorded such things in weeks / clumps of weeks (rather than monthly), as anyone who followed this month’s reposts will have seen, and tried to estimate what each month’s viewing was. That’s why September 2015 may be the highest month ever, because I can only say with certainty that in August 2007 I watched somewhere between 21 and 29 films. My best guess is (coincidentally) exactly the mid-point of that range, 25, which leaves September 2015 in second place. Either way, it’s undoubtedly my most film-filled month for almost eight years.

Such a strong month coming at this point also helps 2015 pass all kinds of yearly markers, too. So at #123 it became my blog’s third most successful year; at #130 it slipped into second place; and at #137 it took the crown of my blog’s most proliferative year. (That’s a good word, isn’t it? Thank you thesaurus.) Plus, at #136 it became my highest overall-totalling year — that’s also counting the alternate cuts, shorts, and the like — with a grand tally of 142; as of month’s end, it’s up to 147. With three months remaining, in which I should watch a minimum of 30 films (for this year’s ten-per-month target), 2015 will be well established as my largest year.

I suppose it now goes without saying that all the regular monthly and yearly goals and records were achieved or surpassed, too: it’s the 16th month in a row with 10+ new films; it single-handedly raised the September average from 9.71 to 11.38; it passed the 2015 monthly average of 14.75 (now 15.67 — the first time it’s been over 15 this year, and certainly the first time it’s been nearer 16… excepting January, that is, which by itself was 16); and it’s the 11th month in a row to beat its equivalent from last year.

I do like statistics.

Looking ahead, then, there are no more records left to topple (well, unless I have another exceptionally large month — you never know), only new ground to tread. The aforementioned “at least 30 more films” finds the year ending with #171; if I can continue besting the same months last year, it’ll make #183; if I slip back to the previous 2015 monthly average I’ll make it to #185, though if I can maintain that freshly-established one it takes me all the way up to #188.

188! That’s exactly double what I managed in my worst-ever year (2009). Insane.



The 4th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A tough call this month, but the joyous and information-packed Filmed in Supermarionation is pipped by the lovely surprise of unexpectedly discovering a marvellous Boy’s Own adventure in North West Frontier.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I wasn’t sure what I’d make of L’Atalante, so wasn’t too saddened when I didn’t care for it all that much. However, I was quite disappointed by how much I didn’t enjoy cult favourite The Dark Crystal.

Film Where They Most Obviously Started with a Title and Went From There
One-Eyed Monster.

Award For Taking an Accidental Trope and Doing Something Ridiculous With It
“All our films end with huge flying things crashing into cities, but what if the huge flying thing was a city?!” Ah, Avengers: Age of Ultron, you were certainly… different.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
It’s Keanu Reeves again, though this time without the aid of a retweet. I guess that’s the sheer popularity of the film in question: John Wick.


I’ve made a poor fist of reading others’ blogs this month, I’m afraid (clearly it’s all that time spent watching so many more films), but here’s a couple (literally) of things nonetheless:

Invictus (2009) @ Films on the Box
We’re still halfway through the Rugby World Cup, so there’s still much relevance in Mike’s praise for Clint Eastwood’s somewhat-overlooked true story drama about Nelson Mandela and the South African team’s success when their nation hosted the 1995 competition.

Top That: Five of My Favorite Directors @ Digital Shortbread
I feel like, recently, I keep reading about how Ron Howard is an average, journeyman kind of director, so it’s interesting to come across a short list of favourite directors that includes him — which Tom’s selection does, of course. For the other four worthy picks, take a look. (I really must come up with a list of my favourite directors someday…)


Not so many new reviews as I’d like this month (clearly it’s all that time spent… yeah, you know the story now).


This month’s repostathon updates can be split into two sections. First, the final editorials:

With those complete, it was time for an entire week-by-week recap of Year 1, aka 2007:

Next month, daily double bills will see us race through all of 2008, 2009, and half of 2010 in just one week, before slowing down slightly to cover the rest of 2010 and all of 2011. Exciting times.


In Memoriam

At the risk of making this a semi-regular feature, this month we had to quite suddenly bid farewell to my partner’s mother’s dog, Lupa. She was an Irish Wolfhound, a giant breed with an average life expectancy of seven years. Sadly, Lupa was just four — what initially seemed to be some kind of sprained ankle turned out to be aggressive bone cancer and, a little over a week later, she passed away.


Rory and Lupa.

Getting an Irish Wolfhound fulfilled a lifelong ambition, so Lupa was a little bit indulged. When she was younger she was boisterous, especially when it came to saying hello with the whack of a paw — we all endured some scratches and bruises to attest to that — but she was sweet-natured (the whacks were friendlily meant) and matured into a dopey softie. Once she realised Rory was old and doddery, she was always very careful around him. I know some people think dog owners confer too much intelligence on their pets, but as she played riotously with other little dogs (including our Poppy) she certainly knew the difference. She will be sorely missed.

Finally: I jest about this becoming a regular feature, but their other dog, Millie, is 15 and looking every day of it, so 2015 may not be done with us yet.


…will almost certainly not be as good as this month. Let’s just expect that now, then we won’t be disappointed.

“Monthly update, monthly update, wherefore art thou monthly update?”

Aside

Leaving aside my misappropriation of Shakespeare (“why are you a monthly update?” doesn’t make much sense), September 2015’s recap is going to be a few days late due to circumstances beyond my control — it’s a pretty big one and there’s been no time to finish it. Very frustrating for me (it’s so nice to be on time), and I’m sure you’re all absolutely desperate for it too.

September 2014

“Did you sept emb ‘er?”
“No, I oct obe ‘er!”

(Don’t worry, it doesn’t make any sense. Let’s move on…)


What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

This month’s WDYMYHS film was the massively appropriate Braveheart. I also watched a film actually about a public vote on the future of their country, No. About a nation seeking to get rid of a nefarious ruler who had reigned over them with malicious intent for far too long, the Scottish referendum is what connects these two movies. (Ho-ho!)

On the topic of WDYMYHS, I also finally posted a review for one of last year’s movies, Touch of Evil. I’ve still got Seven Samurai and The Night of the Hunter to go, as well as one other review, and then I’ll finally be done with 2013. (I’ve been exceptionally tardy with that, haven’t I?)


But back to 2014:

September’s films in full
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
#81 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
#82 Crimes of Passion: Death of a Loved One (2013), aka Mördaren ljuger inte ensam
#83 Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
#84 Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
#85 The Grey (2011)
#86 Dark Shadows (2012)
#87 Braveheart (1995)
#88 Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Frankenweenie#89 The Spirit (2008)
#90 The Wall (2012), aka Die Wand
#91 Frankenweenie (2012)
#92 Always (1989)
#93 American Hustle (2013)
#94 Mad City (1997)
#95 Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
#96 No (2012)
#97 This is Not a Film (2011), aka In film nist


Analysis

At the start of the year, there’s rarely very much to say in these sections; by this point… oh, there are so many ways to look at the data! September is where that really kicks in, because it’s a month in which I’ve twice reached #100, the earliest I’ve ever managed it. That means “how near is #100?” becomes a very viable proposition; plus, I tend to get very watch-y as the big target nears — when it’s only a few films away, why not squeeze in a couple more than normal and get there sooner?

On that last point, it’s perhaps interesting to start with previous Septembers. Last year was my best-ever tally for the ninth month, by some 23% as well… and yet I didn’t reach #100 until two months later. In part that was just the aforementioned pushing on to get closer to the end — the same thing happened in October, and after I actually reached #100 (in early November) I only watched a couple more films. This September, meanwhile, is 31% higher than last year’s — or, to put it another way, 55% better than the best-before-2013 was. And yet I still haven’t reached #100…

What viewing 17 films this month does mean, however, is that it’s my joint-second highest month ever — hurrah! That’s tied with March 2013; it would’ve needed only one more to be outright-second (oh well), two more to be joint-first (looking right back to December 2008 for that), and (obviously now) three more — i.e. have reached #100 — to set a new record.

What does having reached #97 mean for the rest of the year? Well, it’s the furthest I’ve ever gotten by September without reaching 100. Next nearest was last year, when I was at #84. From there, I went on to #110, which is another 26 films — if I do the same this year, I’d reach #123, which would become my second-highest total ever (behind 2007’s 129 and just ahead of 2010’s 122). Widening the parameters to include all previous years, my average total for the year’s final three months is 27 — making last year the most average of the lot, in fact.

That might be the most accurate predictor of where I’ll end up (though still prone to wild variation: I may’ve watched 26 more last year, but the year before that it was only 16, and in 2009 it was up at 40), but let’s use the rest of the 2014 to make some wild assertions anyway. So, my year-to-date average suggests I’ll reach #129, which (as mentioned) would put 2014 equal-best with 2007; pushing a tiny bit harder would leave me with a record-setting 130 films. The most recent months bode well for that: if I maintain my average viewing from the last three months, I’ll reach #139; if I keep up the average of the last two months, however, I’d make it all the way to #145; and if I kept pace with September, I’d make it all the way to #148!

Will any of that happen? Probably not (never say never!), but it’d be nice to end up in the 120s at least.


Slipping…

A side effect of the higher-than-average viewing is that the extent of my backlog has worsened. You may have noticed the number of new reviews step up a little in the past few weeks to try to stave it off, but in the end I had to relent: having kept the “coming soon” list at no more than 49 films ever since July 2012, it slipped to 50 this month. Ah well. Efforts will continue to stop it growing any longer.


This month’s archive reviews

A bit of a lax start to the month means just 17 archive re-posts this time…

Also this month, the two bookend posts from my 2011 David Fincher Week. Most of the reviews featured therein have already been brought over to this blog, but Fight Club and Panic Room will round them out tomorrow and Friday.

(You may have noticed my Se7en review appeared here before this post, but as that’s technically the archive repost for October 1st it’ll be in next month’s update. I am nothing if not precise about these things that don’t really matter.)


5… what?

This is the second month in a row without a “list of five”, but they have not necessarily gone the way of the dodo — last month I couldn’t think of anything worth doing; this month I’ve run out of time.

I was considering “5 favourite Tim Burton films”, because I finally caught up on both Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie this month. My list would probably have included Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride and Sleepy Hollow (along with a fifth, obviously), and definitely would have left out Planet of the Apes, Mars Attacks and Beetlejuice. (Lest you judge my selections harshly, bear in mind I still haven’t got round to Ed Wood or Big Fish. Or Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.)

What about you, dear reader?


Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

98…
99…
100!

101?

September 2011

By the end of September 2010 I’d made it to my goal of 100 films.

This year?


Not a chance.

Of course I haven’t. I ended last month on 77 — even at my best, 23 films in a month is madness. (Actually, I did manage it once: August 2007, when I watched between 24 and 29 films. (I wish I’d kept more thorough records of exactly when I watched things back then.) But my next highest is 18, and next 17, so…)

In January’s summary I noted that, if I could keep my viewing rate the same, I’d reach 100 in early September (and 144 by the end of the year). In May things were clearly going to that plan, as I passed #50 and noted that I should reach #100 on September 9th (and 145 by the end of the year). As you can see, that rate didn’t continue.

But hey-ho, the first part of the year always seems to go better than the back bit, and I’m not behind my schedule to reach exactly 100 by the end of the year — indeed, even if I hadn’t watched a single new film this month I’d still be three ahead. But I watched four, so that’s… well, it’s better than nothing, eh…


#78 Bringing Up Baby (1938)
#79 Holiday (1938)
#80 How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
#81 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)


Revamp

Attentive readers may note that I’ve made some changes to the ‘info line’ that starts each of my reviews. I’ve been pondering this for a while now and have finally just taken the plunge. Any suggestions for additions (or removals) from the new set of info are welcome. Changes thus far are as follows:

  • I’ve lost the year. It’s in the post title; there was never any need for it to be repeated. Never.
  • Added the aspect ratio. This one probably won’t always be available or precise, but I’ll have a go. For DVDs and Blu-rays it’s copied from the packaging (unless that’s obviously wrong), for formats where I don’t have such ‘precise’ information it’ll be my best guess from the standard sizes.
  • Added the country-of-production and primary language of the film. I don’t want these to be epic lists of funders and every language spoken on screen, so I intend to limit this to the main country/ies and one language, as far as I possibly can. So, for example, the language for Inglourious Basterds would be “English”, even though a tonne of (subtitled) French and German is spoken throughout. Probably. I may end up changing my mind on this one…

Other than that it’s all stuff that was there before. I’m not going to change all the old reviews to match the new format, though — there’s well over 500 reviews now, I’m not mad.

As I said, feel free to berate me for either including something needless/inaccurate or for leaving out something essential. I’ve tried to keep the list focused on facts that are accepted to be important (e.g. the director) or stuff that can vary depending on the viewing source (length, aspect ratio, language), which obviously might impact my experience and therefore opinion.


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

With just three months to go it’s getting close to the final countdown.

Will I make it to 100 next month? Doubt it. 90? You never know…