Another month has passed, and, as usual, I’ve been going goggle-eyed in the wee-small hours while I’m up feeding a sleepless baby (Choochie STILL doesn’t sleep!), as it’s the one time I can really sit and watch anything for any length of time. I watched just over a dozen films this month, some of which are newer, but others which are classics. I hope I’ll inspire you to watch some of them and see if your thoughts on them are similar to mine.
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman
Incredibly disappointing interpretation of the well-known bible story which shows some of the characters in a rather unsavoury light at some points and changes large parts of it for added drama. Basically, they decided to Hollywood-ize it. Lacklustre performances from the stars too – Crowe looks like he’s sleep walking, COnnelly is a wet hen, Watson’s burgeoning talent is wasted, and Winston tuns in a by-the-numbers performance as the bad guy. The money must have gone on whopping great salaries, because most of the special effects suck too. I’m afraid this was pretty much a wash out.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford
Sequel to the very popular Captain America, and yet another in the juggernaut that is the Marvel Avengers franchise – I get the feeling these films could just keep coming and coming, as there certainly seems to be no end to them at present. Not as fun or exciting as the first film, but there’s just enough action and Avengers tie-ins to keep the fans interested. The addition of class act, Redford, increases the appeal for those who like a bit of extra quality in their movie-going experience, but overall, it’s an average offering that feels a bit like a place-keeper for the next film.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Billie Whitelaw,Timothy Dalton, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Edward Woodward
The second in the Cornetto Trilogy sees a return of the main stars from Sean of the Dead along with a back catalogue of really great British stars – honestly, the cast list reads like a who’s who of Brit talent that will delight any fan. This is actually my favourite of the trilogy by far, pitting the super-cop, Nicholas Angel against a sleepy, peaceful country village that isn’t all it seems. It’s hilarious, action packed, and it also serves as a pretty decent who-dunnit.
A Few Good Men (1992)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, J.T. Walsh, Christopher Guest
Nominated for four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Nicholson, Best Sound and Best Editing), it’s shocking that it failed to win any of them, because this is one of those occasions where every individual element is perfect, and when you put them all together, you get something that is sublime. This is actually Hubby’s favourite film of all time, and it’s easy to see why; with stellar performances from the entire cast, slick direction, and superb writing, it’s pretty much a perfect storm of a film. And I’m pretty certain there’s not a person on the planet over the age of 18 who hasn’t at some point yelled (or at least, wanted to yell), “You can’t handle the truth!” a la Nicholson!
Draft Day (2014)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner
I’m not a fan of sports movies, but I do like a good film that looks behind the scenes, ans this one is pretty good! Costner is really returning to form and I can see him becoming every bit as popular again now as he was during his late 80s/early 90s heyday. This glimpse of a single, incredibly important day in the American sports calendar, it’s fascinating to see the almost political machinations involved in NFL Draft Day, when the college players are drafted to the big leagues. If you liked Moneyball or Trouble With the Curve then you’ll probably love this.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley
This interesting new take on a classic fairy story, looks at the well-known and beloved story of The Sleeping Beauty from the other side. I’ve always loved a good villain, and Maleficent has always been one of the biggies in Disney terms, so it’s nice to see her story and see her in a more sympathetic light, as we witness the events that led to her becoming the vengeful being we thought we knew, and understand her motivations. It’s very nicely done and Jolie is perfectly cast as the titular character (those cheekbones – wow!).
The Raid 2 (2014)
Starring: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra
This foreign language follow-up to The Raid: Redemption (2011) picks up where the first film left off and continues the story. It seems unusual to see an Indonesian film written and directed by a Welshman (Gareth Evans), but where the first film was exhilarating and thrilling to watch, this felt like it was rehashing old material. It’s every bit as bloody and violent as the first film, but it really felt like it was continually gratuitious this time, and I confess I kind of tuned out and lost interest pretty quickly, which is a shame, because I rather enjoyed the first one.
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston
Yet another reboot of a rebooted movie. Very disappointing. If you want to see a fun reboot of the old Godzilla movies, go back and watch the 1998 film starring Matthew Broderick, because it’s a hell of a lot better than the latest offering. The inclusion of a second kind of monster, the MUTOs, does little to add to the appeal, and it’s a decidedly lacklustre affair from start to finish.
Trouble With the Curve (2012)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake
I’ve mentioned earlier on in this post that I enjoy behind-the-scenes sports movies. I’ve also mentioned in other posts how much I enjoy watching Timberlake develop as an actor (I much prefer him as an actor than as a musician). Well, here we get both put together, so this was a win-win for me. When you add a good plot, rising star Adams, and established Hollywood gold, Eastwood, you have even more positives in the mix. This is one of those sports films that even those who hate sports and know nothing about baseball can enjoy, as it has really good characters who are very well cast and portrayed.
Charlotte’s Web (2006)
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts (voice), Oprah Winfrey (voice), Steve Buscemi (voice), John Cleese (voice), Kathy Bates (voice), Robert Redford (voice)
Live action adaptation of the classic children’s novel by E. B. White. I remember loving the animated version of this as a kid, but this live-action version has the added adcantage of making everything seem that little bit more real. As a person who has always suffered terrible arachnophobia, it’s a strange sensation to feel endeared to a spider, especially one who looks pretty real, but one cannot help liking Charlotte, the little spider who weaves wonders within her web to try and save the life of a little spring piglet, so he can live to winter and see snow. The voice talent on display here is immense, and we see the young Fanning in one of her childhood roles, where she already shows a great deal of potential, and a talent that belies her tender age.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson
I’ve never been a huge fan of zombies – shambling creatures that should be laughably easy to outrun, yet they always seem to catch the hapless idiots who lose a perfectly good lead by tripping over a tree root. But give me a zombie with speed, and I’ll lap it up! 28 Days Later (OK, technically not zombies, but cut me some slack!), and World War Z are examples of this, but I much prefer Zombieland with its quirky characters and list of rules for survival, as well as an element of humour (Sean of the Dead excelled here), but also a slight air of sadness and despair to it, as people wander, alone and friendless, in a world where trusting the living can be just as dangerous as failing to double-tap a zombie.
Sin City (2005)
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood
This was actually a re-watch for me. I saw most of it when it first came out, but hated it. Don’t get me wrong, I thought from the very start that it was beautifully shot and well cast, but I didn’t like how it jumped about all over the place – it just didn’t work for me. This time we watched the extended edition, which put all the individual stories together and showed them separately, and I enjoyed it a whole lot more. I’m all for convoluted plots and presentations (Hell, I loved Pulp Fiction!), but this worked better for me when the storylines were laid out in a more straightforward manner. I’m looking forward to seeing the sequel.
The King and I (1956)
Starring: Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, Rita Moreno
This lush musical won five Oscars (Best Actor for Brynner, Art Direction in Colour, Costume Design in Colour, Sound Recording, and Scoring), and was nominated for a further three (Best Actress for Kerr, Director, and Cinamatography in Colour), and it’s easy to see why. It’s visually stunning, and Brynner is a commanding presence as the King of Siam. Brynner is one of my all time favourite actors anyway (Choochie’s middle name is Yul!), but this has always been one of my favourite performances from him. And this film is such a favourite in my family, that my Mam still says the name “George” the way it is said in the performance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in this film – every single time, without fail, and it always makes me laugh. We let Tadpole stay up a little later so he could watch the whole thing, and he enjoyed it too. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!