September 2014: A Summary

It’s been an alright month for film viewing and once again I have a top and bottom 6 and what I’ve watched this month. The new term of film school started this month and it’s as awesome as ever, and the final film of last term, Busker, is awesome. I haven’t really got anything more to say to let’s get started.

I have one honourable mention: Before I Go To Sleep: 7/10 better than some say with some against type performances from Mark Strong and Colin Firth, as well as some stylish thrills although it does go into clichéd territory from time to time. Enjoy!

6 that were awesome:

6. Under The Skin: 7/10 no not the song from The Little Mermaid. This is very different. It’s an arthouse science fiction movie about an alien who goes through Scotland picking up men and doing weird things to them. How to sum this up? Weird. Just weird. I’m certainly not as crazy about it as others have been. The fact that it came 15th in Total Film’s top 50 best British films when Children Of Men came 40th and the number of 5 star reviews is a bit bewildering, but you can’t deny the film has skill. While it wanders, uses far away shots excessively and has an overly elusive message, it does still have a message which even if you don’t get it makes the film very haunting. Scarlett Johansson is good as the alien in an interesting role choice, while Johnathan Glazer’s direction is genuinely amazing and almost Kubrickan. How is it that he’s only been able to make 3 feature films?! A good and interesting film overall, although certainly not an enjoyable one. This one needs patience.

5. Les Diaboliques: 7/10 in this French 1950s horror, 2 women who have been wronged by an unpleasant headmaster decide to murder him, but when his corpse disappears, the women start to go mad. Like with the above, this is a good film but still overrated. It’s not as good as stuff Alfred Hitchcock has done, since it lacks creepy visuals and is overlong. However, it’ll still do for baths what Psycho did for showers, thanks to the smart, patient shocks, intelligent direction and twists and turns. I guessed the twist long before the film ended, but most probably won’t. Overall, it’s something France should be relatively proud of and it’s certainly more fun than studying French.

4. Full Metal Jacket: 8/10 Kubrick’s penultimate movie is about how war turns people into killing machines. This is divided into 2 halves: One takes place at the military training camp, the other takes place on the battlefield. The first half is so intense that when we get to the war it’s almost a relief. Real life drill sergeant R Lee Ermy showcases the best improvisation ever on film, as he insults the soldiers and drives one in particular insane with fear. The second half lacks the power of the first, as the message has been exhausted somewhat in the first half. However, it’s still very well directed and Kubrick recreates Vietnam brilliantly… in the English countryside. It’s one of Kubrick’s weaker efforts, but it still hits with the force of a sledgehammer and that first half is nearly flawless.

3. The Thin Red Line: 8/10 OK so The Tree Of Life was rubbish, but this shows Terrence Malick is actually a good filmmaker. Another cinematic poem, this time he takes up to the Pacific islands during World War II and mixes amazing nature photography which could make the National Geographic channel green with envy and intense battle sequences that actually hit pretty hard. How could have thought Malick could direct action so well when normally he spends a lot of the time showing people walking through long grass? TTRL wanders a fair amount and is overlong, but it’s an extremely interesting movie. Big actors are given small roles; plot lines are left unresolved; characters disappear. The main message of the film is what war does to nature, and even with its unfocussed moments, it shows this beautifully. As the end credits start to roll and the Melanesian choirs burst into song you may shed a tear.

2. Get Carter: 10/10 Michael Caine plays a London gangster who goes to Newcastle to find out what happened to his brother. Be warned: This is not for the faint of heart. This movie is bleak, haunting brutal and there is misery virtually everywhere. However, that doesn’t mean the film isn’t an absolute knockout, because it is. It hits like a bullet between the eyes, as Michael Caine (giving maybe one of the best performances by any actor in film history) works his way through the Newcastle gangster community. The film is very well made and manages to turn Newcastle into hell on earth, and it also benefits from the fantastic script. This is just as good as anything America has ever made and it’s one of the best British films of all time. It’s a haunting, bleak, brutal and unrestrained spectacle of violence, revenge and the death of morals and with it’s portrayal of Newcastle you’ll never look at Geordie Shore the same way again. But it is a masterpiece that every Michael Caine fan- or moviegoer in general- should see.

And the best is…

1. Ran: 10/10 unlike many of my age, I absolutely love Shakespeare. This is the closest his genius has come to being translated fully to celluloid. Akira Kurosawa was apparently almost blind when he directed this, but it’s his most beautiful film. It’s a retelling of King Lear, with some fascinating differences to the story and Kurosawa turns the play into a haunting, sobering meditation on disloyalty and chaos. Although it’s long, Ran gets everything right. It’s finely acted, breathtakingly powerful, superbly directed, emotional and has 2 awe inspiring battles. It’s a great work as stunning as any painting, and every single frame oozes power, art and humanity. It’s a sad movie. It’s a thrilling movie. It’s a powerful movie. It’s a well everything movie. It is one of the greatest foreign movies of all time.

6 that sucked:

6. Need For Speed: 4/10 apparently Aaron Paul is amazing in Breaking Bad. Judging by his boring acting in this lame video game adaptation, you wouldn’t have guessed. There’s little sensible plot to this one, and any story is just an excuse for another car chase. I do really like action films and this is a fun film at first and it remains watchable throughout but after a while the car chases become samey despite the great camerawork and the plot is non existent. Plus, as the drivers repeatedly drive recklessly and endanger people, including a school bus at one point it just becomes uncomfortable. Not so much a film as a stupendously stupid car advert clearly sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, some will be fine with this and I think many will have a good time. If only it hadn’t been 2 hours of the same stuff.

5. Hick: 4/10 I doubt you’ve even heard of this one. It stars Chloe Grace Moretz (My favourite actress) as a teenager going on the road to Las Vegas to escape her rough home life. It actually took half the movie before I realized it was actually pretty weak. The acting all around is good, and Chloe Grace Moretz is absolutely brilliant, showing child actors don’t (always) deserve the hate and that distracts its audience before the lack of any real message and the ugly script become more apparent. It also has a director who clearly knows what he’s doing but the script doesn’t deserve him or the talented cast. In general, it’s just an ugly collage of road movie conventions with no aim and no real purpose. 5% on Rotten Tomatoes is a bit unfair, but this is just a pretty ugly movie. By the end the main character hasn’t learned anything. And neither have we.

4. Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers: 4/10 the Halloween franchise sensibly tried to become an anthology series after Halloween II and leave the Michael Myers stuff. However, the public demand prevailed and after a failed attempt at this format Michael, 10 years after his killing spree on Halloween, is back to kill his niece even though he was blown up in the better than expected Halloween II. Although Michael Myers is still scary, Donald Pleasance is excellent and there are some good scares, this watchable horror sequel never really takes off as the scares become increasingly mechanical and the film is clearly just desperate to make money. What lets it down is its stupidity. Michael Myers turns into Kenny from South Park and keeps dying fake deaths. Michael’s niece wanders off from her foster sister for no reason. Michael Myers somehow appears in a house where all the doors and windows are locked. A guy tries to fight him by punching him instead of running away. Michael Myers teleports onto a moving truck. You get the idea.

3. The Proposal: 3/10 I hated this movie. Others seem to quite like it and I have no idea why. I started AS film studies this month, and my homework was to watch one of 6 examples which emphasized genre. Sadly, this was the one that was available. Sandra Bullock, to avoid deportation, forces her put upon assistant to marry her. This premise is annoying and awkward in my opinion already, and watching it get stretched over 2 hours is torture. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are both good, and the film has a couple of nice messages but aside from that this is the cinematic equivalent of a landfill full of recycled ideas, dumb clichés and boring, predictable plot points. I almost cheered when it finally ended. For some reason, most feel this is a perfectly OK movie and it has some funny moments. I would have appreciated it if I’d actually laughed much at all. This follows the rom com formula with great enthusiasm and sums up why I just don’t watch this kind of films. Do yourselves a favour. Look at the poster. Watch the trailer. Read a brief summary of the plot. Congratulations. You’ve now seen the entire movie.

2. 30 Minutes Or Less: 3/10 if this awful comedy film had been 30 minutes or less that would have been a mercy. A pizza delivery man is kidnaped by 2 robbers and has a bomb strapped to his chest. He has 10 hours to rob a bank or he will explode. It’s weird that this is from the director of the entertaining Zombieland. The direction is good and there are some tense moments but when the funniest scene takes place during a bank robbery you know you’re in trouble. The only achievement is that it actually manages to make Jesse Eissenberg unlikable which is very impressive. It’s racist, sexist and vulgar and since it is very rarely funny, it is just an endless stream of ugly jokes. The film was a total waste of my time; no-one is likable, the film is too short to make any impression and the characters spend the entire time swearing for no good reason. Heed my warning if you decide to watch this nauseating movie: You may want to bring the sick bags.

And the worst is….

1. Trespass: 1/10 this is a bad movie. Understatement. This home invasion thriller is so samey and repetitive that even though I watched it last night I’ve forgotten a lot of it already. OK, so you can’t expect much from the director of Batman And Robin but the guy also made Phone Booth. A group of criminals invade the home of Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage and try to steal their money. Nicole Kidman is the only one who shouldn’t be ashamed. Watching Trespass is like being locked in an enclosed space with someone who hasn’t washed for 2 weeks and they’re yelling in your face for 3 hours. It’s not just an awful movie, it’s an ugly and unpleasant one. Nicolas Cage, a year after a return to form in Kick-Ass, spends the movie yelling and screaming, while the writers complicate the script with pointless flashbacks. There’s no tension or thrills. There isn’t any depth or purpose. There’s no direction or aim (A good 15 minutes consist of Nicolas Cage explaining the laws of diamond ownership to the robbers). It is a simply a hopeless, ruthlessly forgettable thriller with no personality. There aren’t any silver linings to this, which is less interesting than a blank sheet of paper. There aren’t any genuine defences. There’s no doubt. This is a dreadful attempt at making entertainment and all involved should be ashamed.

Thanks for reading!

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