Sunday, 1 April 2012

Movies of March: Part 1

Happy April Fool's Day and Easter holidays (if any fellow teachers read this)! It's been a crazy busy month of film watching.  I've ploughed through 28 films in March and am finally coming close to being able to make my top 10 list of 2011.  I've also caught up on a few classics as you will see from the list below.  Here's the bottom fourteen of the movies I watched this month.  Don't forget to pop back round in the next couple of days to see the top 14 movies I watched in March!

28. Drive Angry (Patrick Lussier, 2011)

Driver escapes hell, hooks up with Amber Heard and sets off to save his grandchild from a Satan worshipping cult.  Another lame Nicholas Cage movie.  Not sure why I bother with anything he’s in these days.  Had heard that this was dumb fun.  Unfortunately it’s just dumb.  Not even reliable Fichtner and sexy Heard can save this from the pits of movie hell.

27. My Week with Marilyn (Simon Curtis, 2011)

Apart from a pretty decent impersonation of Monroe from Michelle Williams and a vaguely interesting look behind the scenes of the making of Laurence Olivier’s The Prince and the Showgirl, there’s not a great deal to recommend this one.

26. Death of a Ghost Hunter (Sean Tretta, 2007)

Some terrible acting can’t stop this tale of a paranormal investigator snooping round a haunted house from being pretty bloody scary.  It might be slow and feature too much voiceover, too much poor acting and not much originality but it does have a pretty good ending and some genuinely scary moments.

25. 30 Minutes or Less (Ruben Fleischer, 2011)

Fun enough comedy featuring likeable Jesse Eisenberg as a pizza boy forced into robbing a bank when Danny McBride’s nutty waster straps a bomb to him.  Gutter mouthed fun that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome but fails to stick around in the memory for too long either.

24. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Steven Spielberg, 2011)

Slightly confusing but visually stunning three minute single shot chase scene aside, this is a pretty drab adventure from Spielberg.  Tintin, Captain Haddock and even Snowy the dog make for less than exciting or interesting heroes and the detective mystery is just not that gripping or mysterious.  Maybe Peter Jackson will improve with his further adventures of Tintin, but with characters this forgettable, it might be tricky.

23. The Rum Diary (Bruce Robinson, 2011)

This adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s book fails to capture the anarchic spirit and drug addled mayhem of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Depp is amusing and Giovanni Ribisi is fun in a small role but overall it’s a pretty forgettable tale of an American journalist in 1950s Puerto Rico.

22. Ironclad (Jonathan English, 2011)

Vicious, bloody and brutal battles between Paul Giamatti’s right bastard King John and a rag-tag bunch of knights and warriors defending a strategic ye olde English castle.  Incredibly violent and pretty damn tense as the heroes are outnumbered and totally out-acted by Giamatti’s OTT performance.

21. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Not quite sure what all the fuss is about but this is a solid enough character study of a surveillance expert played brilliantly by Gene Hackman slowly losing his mind and growing increasingly paranoid that he himself is the target of surveillance.  To be fair I wasn’t giving this film my full concentration and therefore I’ve probably missed out on fully appreciating this classic.

20. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)

This is an absolutely mind-melting piece of gibberish from the master of surreal David Lynch.  Filled with eerie sound design, uncomfortable silences, claustrophobic interiors and miserable industrial exteriors, this story of a man facing fatherhood (of an odd mutant baby) features an awkward dinner table with the in-laws, a hamster cheeked girl in a radiator and the aforementioned mutant baby to freak you out, give you nightmares and possibly send you to sleep.  It’s incredibly weird and unique, but a little on the slow side.  Probably would have made a better short in my opinion.  Still... brilliantly bonkers.

19. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes, 1987)

Another one I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about.  Matthew Broderick plays the titular slacker with a bit of an annoying mix of arrogance and sweetness.  He’s not half as cool as he thinks he or director John Hughes thinks he is.  The talking to camera thing is cool but has been done better since and the narrative fails to really go anywhere as the three main characters don’t really spend their day off doing much exciting.  I mean at one point they go to an art gallery!  Kids bunk off school to go to an art gallery?  Seriously?  Charlie Sheen’s short part as a drug-addled criminal is worth a look though.

18. Westworld (Michael Crichton, 1973)

Influential but poorly directed film about a theme park filled with robots and what happens when the machines rage against the customers.  Not sure if it’s supposed to be funny but some of the acting is dreadful and the pacing is a little weird.  However it’s a great central idea and it’s a good thing director Crichton mostly stuck to writing after this interesting mess.  Ripe for a remake.

17. Rounders (John Dahl, 1998)
Matt Damon’s ex-gambler gets back in the game when old friend Ed Norton gets out of prison with a shitload of debts to pay off.  The stakes are raised with Russian pro poker pleayers, debt collecting heavies and cops that don’t take too well to being cheated.  Norton is good value as ever but Damon takes the lead in a fairly tense but predictable poker-playing thriller.

16. Survival of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2010)

Not Romero’s best but this still has interesting characters in a morally ambiguous tale of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse seeking refuge on an island where two warring factions live.  The film asks interesting questions about the treatment of the zombies with one man training them to serve mankind and one wanting to kill every one of them.  Morality is questioned and the subtext is clear for all to see but Romero still provides a decently acted and directed zombie flick that entertains as much as it poses questions.

15. The Idiots (Lars von Trier, 1999)

A truly challenging film that begs for outraged, disgusted reaction but crucially makes the audience care for at least some of its mixed up, eccentric characters.  When a small group of odd adults decide to unleash their inner idiots, the consequences are surprisingly interesting and occasionally moving.  Features some great performances and cinematography, editing and boom microphone shadows that all add to the incredible sense of realism.

So what do you think?  Do I need to pay more attention to The Conversation?  Am I misunderstanding the pleasures of Mr Cage?  Has Romero lost the plot?  Did Lynch and von Trier ever have the plot?

Please come back soon to find out my top 14 of the month!