It’s amazing to me how many people took this article as a personal attack when it’s really about ‘Armie Hammer’ the carefully crafted phenomenon, not necessarily a judgement of the person. I mean, there’s no doubt he’s one of a long line of white male Hollywood stars who’ve benefitted from the privilege that gives them the chances so often denied to others, whether through unconscious bias or Weinstein-esque bad faith acting. #link
Even accounting for the fact that some were shorter (circa 1 hr) documentaries, that’s still a better than average showing. Mind you, I didn’t write as many full-length reviews as I have in previous years, but it surely indicates I was watching more for my own enjoyment and/or edification. (That also classifies as CPD as far as I’m concerned.)
So much of T2 absolutely holds up today because of the vision and pride of everyone involved — something noticeably lacking from much CG in movies today, nearly three decades and countless incredible advances in technology later. [c/o Interconnected] #link
Hold those other, glowing reviews you're bound to see with suspicion, as the latest entry in the Star Wars saga is a middling dud. Maybe if some people could step outside their fandom bubble for a minute... #link
Another few weeks of genre-hopping, thanks to a free month of Shudder that I ended up letting lapse as I couldn’t find much of anything I wanted to watch. So it goes.
But it was also a month that included one of my favourite films of the year. Shame it bypassed cinemas and went straight to Netflix. The new straight to video? I sure hope not.
Obviously Netflix is better than that, but there is a clear sense that it serves serialised ‘prestige’ TV much better than first-run feature films. And I get the feeling even Netflix’s honchos recognise this, going by all the promos I’m seeing for Bright (which isn’t out till the end of this month).
An interview with the other half of Studio Ghibli, about his most recent film, a beautiful and heartbreaking masterpiece which is definitely one of my favourites of the decade. And from a director who so matter-of-factly states: “I don’t really draw myself, I’m not an artist.” #link
I have quibbles with this list. Billy Wilder made funnier films than Some Like It Hot, for one, and in general the selection is top heavy with the kinds of films one might feel they ought to rate. But shuffle the deck, cutting out the Woody Allens (Annie Hall excepted, they’re simply not funny — I mean, besides the obvious), and maybe sequestering the early-20th-century works, and you’ve got yourself a decent pot luck. #link
October’s viewing was a mixed bag: a handful of cinema trips, one of them a press show (for Brawl in Cell Block 99, as previously linked); a few dips into Netflix and other streaming services; genres all over the place; and one classic rewatch that stands the test of time.
Here’s a good essay from over the summer about an underrated actor, and person, that should get a re-up in this ‘post-Weinstein world’. It highlights how much the system is set against women who try to buck it (and how much it goes out of its way to conform to men who do the same, or worse). #link
Compared to July and August, September was a quiet month for movies watched round these parts. Mind you, two involved trips to the cinema as a paying punter, though one I regret spending those few euros on (see if you can guess which one).
If you haven’t yet seen Year of the Dragon or To Live and Die in LA, get that sorted before watching this great discussion of two of the 1980s’ finest crime films. (Be forewarned, the video is NSFW.) #video
Vanity Fair marks the filmmaker’s 75th birthday with some of his finest remarks. Take this, on the South American jungle while filming Fitzcarraldo: “The trees here are in misery, the birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing, they just screech in pain.” [c/o LinkMachineGo] #link
It’s won awards and it’s getting rave reviews, but I thought it was awful. And I get the feeling if it were anything but an Irish film it would get ripped apart. The only grace is the genuine connection between the two leads, but it’s not a saving one. #link
I may not have been blogging much here, but I did ramp up my movie-watching over the summer — mostly thanks to my dive into ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series (not all of which I’ve reviewed, mind).
Among the films I watched in July and August is one of the best of the year thus far in War for the Planet of the Apes. And on average the quality has been pretty good, with only a handful of duds to speak of.
Despite promising to myself that I would more carefully audit the quality of the films I watch for pleasure/personal edification, I still managed to watch one of the worst things I’ve seen in many a year. Must do better in July.
The third entry in the Freddy franchise trades the inventive gore and straight-up weirdness of the original, and the sexuality allegory of the unfairly maligned second effort, for a more fantastic scenario that nevertheless has its queasy moments (the ‘string puppet’ scene near the start, especially). It’s not as well paced as you might remember it (Freddy’s barely in it; I doubt Robert Englund had to wear the makeup for more than a week) and pretty much runs out of steam in the final act, where it’s more a showcase for the technical skills of the special effects artists than a story worth following. Indeed, I forgot about the Harryhausen tribute at the end; I burst out laughing, but not in a bad way.
What a treat this is: a genuinely funny, sweet and touching comedy-drama about a non-traditional family and the unique creature who shakes up their lives. But it arrived before most people cared about such things, and doesn’t fit neatly into the Disney canon, so is unfairly overlooked (even by me, hence why it’s taken me so long to see it).
The first ‘straight’ genre pastiche from the Astron-6 collective, The Void is a film very much in thrall of its influences in lieu of its own worldbuilding: it’s basically Carpenter’s The Thing, Prince of Darkness and a few others crossed with Fulci’s The Beyond, by way of Hellraiser and Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft flicks. What’s more, the awful lighting makes it largely impossible to appreciate the practical effects, which are Empire Pictures weird-veering-on-hokey rather than other-worldly terrifying, so I don’t know why they bothered. I didn’t hate watching it, though.
Yoshitoki Ōima’s slice-of-life manga perhaps naturally loses some of its plot clarity and character development in the translation to the big screen, compressing an 18-month-long story into a two-hour movie and all that. But the spirit is intact, as a disconnected group of teenagers – one of them deaf – try to mend the wounds they inflicted on one another when they were younger and knew no better. Emotionally genuine, and beautifully animated. Very much recommended if you liked Toradora!
Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that genre filmmaking is a more welcoming place for women to get a foothold, whether telling their own stories or just telling good stories full stop. But I’m not a filmmaker or a woman, nor do I know any in the industry. #link
That’s a good question. Certainly there are films that grow better with age, and multiple viewings can reveal new things with each experience. But does that mean said films need to be seen more than once to be fair in judgement about them? I don’t think so, and if that’s what the filmmaker intends, then that’s a bad filmmaker. Speaking as a reviewer? It’s not a prerequisite to watch more than once, since the vast majority of people will pay to see a movie only once. That doesn’t, however, preclude reappraising a film after the fact. (Also: I’m not a re-reader of books, and I don’t think it’s fair to compare books with films in that respect; the investment of time and mental resources is completely different.) #link
My first film review in weeks, for various reasons mostly related to not being able to make it to press screenings. Shame it’s for another dud, and that’s coming from a fan of the people involved. #link
I really wanted to like this. I really did. I was even willing to forgive the handful of creaky moments in its first half hour — paper-thin characters, hackneyed set-ups and more — because the pace is so exciting. When the titular giant ape makes his first appearance, it’s at a genuinely unexpected moment, and the chaos is handled beautifully by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer). I was ready for a thrill ride.
But it’s all downhill from there. You see, it’s one thing to reference other movies, to pay visual or thematic homage; that’s something the otherwise narratively impoverished A Cure for Wellness does to its credit. It’s another, however, to simply mash-up the plots of a few different movies and hope that nostalgia will fill the cracks.
So James Mangold finally got to make his R-rated Wolverine. And? Strip away the air of ‘serious film’-ness surrounding this super-anti-hero flick and it’s a fairly ordinary road movie, gussied up by a gritty pomo western style, relatively extreme violence, and uncharacteristic potty-mouth dialogue. All very cute, like when Jackman says ‘fuck off’ in that Avengers cameo. Fanboys can shove it.