Monday, December 3, 2012

Movie Diary #5: November 2012

Before I run through my month of movie watching I have another guest post that I want to plug. Last week I told you about the first part of a History of Hard-Boiled and Noir Fiction essay written for Literary Exploration and for those who paid attention here's the link for the second part. Tomorrow marks the moment when I start to assess the past year; for those of you who really don't care about my literary adventures I'd suggest returning next week when the fiction lists are done with and we can move on to movies.

November saw me make up for lost time, thanks largely to TCM I feel I've seen a lot more films this month than in any month from the rest of the year. 51 films watched in November, nowhere near Chip's 108 in October but for me it's massive. And only 4 of them I'd seen previously.

Unhappily quite a few of them were completely forgettable but at least I'm racking up the big numbers right?

There were a few disappointments from trips to the cinema (The Master, Looper, Lawless,) but mainly because I had high enough expectations to leave the house, some truly awful experiences on the sofa (Total Recall and many more) and the balance of decent films (13) to great films (3) was weighted in entirely the wrong direction for my liking. I think I'd prefer quality over quantity in future.

Why Did They Even Bother?

Total Recall (2012) Do you remember my live blogging experiment on November 1st?  
This movie has nothing going for it at all. Nothing. It wasn't necessary to remake this film. It certainly wasn't necessary to remake it so badly.

The Watch (2012) compounded my awful start to the month.
I just hoped its potential would blossom out of the mediocre soil but instead I got a laugh every 15 minutes.

Blame (2010)
For an amateur movie this might have been pretty decent. The script was the worst part and some of the acting didn't help. I was hoping for something semi-decent from a local film for once but it just revisits the same old tired cliches of the genre and on top of that tries to get Australians to talk like they're not from here.
Savages (2012) got the full review treatment here.
For a film the length of Traffic this has 1/10th the substance. It took me less time to read the book than it did to watch the movie too.

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt (1956)
Dull and silly script with quite astonishingly boring direction from somebody of Lang's calibre. The same premise was told in a more interesting fashion in The Life of David Gale.
Paranorman (2012)
So the animation was decent but the story was ordinary and told in such a way as to put me to sleep. I can see why people are excited over all the horror references but that's not enough to rate a movie highly. If you want great classic horror references watch a Rob Zombie movie.
The Three Musketeers (2011)
Paul W S Anderson is a worse film maker than Uwe Boll.
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (2012)
Interesting premise, wonderful beginnings, dreadful endings. I think Melancholia might have had more laughs than this "romcom." I think Antichrist might have too.
It's a big horrible mess that tries to hard to be cute and sweet and quirky but suffers from too many ideas and overuse of cliche plus a distinct lack of pacing because this was interminable. Perhaps the end of the world might have been preferable to watching this?
Deadfall (2012)
I'm not sure how this film got made. A truly awful script that spawned some quite awful accents. An Austrian director that clearly couldn't tell the difference between an Eric Bana American accent and that of a real American. Combined this is one great big disaster.
The Campaign (2012)
Dear Zach Galifianakis I've seen your standup comedy, it is funny. Please try to resist appearing in movies that are this bad in future. Thank you. Write back soon.
It Passes The Time

The Human Factor (1979) is an unjustly forgotten Cold War classic.

Some names involved with this project, names that alone should be enough to have kept this film alive in the minds of cinephiles: John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi, Richard Attenborough, Tom Stoppard, Graham Greene, Otto Preminger, together they made an honest and realistic film about the human casualty of cold war espionage whilst thumbing their noses at the absurdity of somebody like James Bond existing in the British Secret Service.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
I actually expected this to be so much worse than it is, but there's so little cheese and gratuitous gore with a focus on human weaknesses and a realistic, tense, atmosphere that I was impressed despite the lack of interest in the plot.
Damsels in Distress (2012) the new Whit Stillman was reviewed in full here including some great screencaps.
A charming, witty and wonderful surprise, not least because Greta Gerwig can act. A little bizarre, not for everybody for sure but I had a wonderful time with Whit Stillman's flowers.
Bachelorette (2012) has been so unfairly criticised that I felt moved to review it here.
I heard a lot of talk about Bridesmaids last year but thought it was terribly derivitive with obvious humour and no subtlety, Bachelorette on the other hand really does play like a female centred Hangover but funny and with superb performances, most notably from Ms Dunst.
Shoot The Piano Player (1960) continued our noir-a-thon, taking us from Hollywood to Europe as the style evolves.
A pretty good adaptation of the David Goodis novel but much less dark and carrying much less weight. Truffaut instead crafted his own vision of the source material and in doing so created the first real new-wave noir.
The Lady Vanishes (1938) didn't live up to its hype.
Hitchcock's direction is technically very impressive, especially for 1938 and it's a jolly good adventure with some great natural performances but it's also a bit of a mess plotwise. It's slow to get going, with some really strange sequences in the hotel but once you're on the train things improve dramatically.
End of Watch (2012) featured some great performances and inspired yet another review from me this month.
Powerful and enjoyable movie making that is hamstrung by not following its own rules.
Butter (2011) brought Alicia Silverstone back to my screen! Can this be the signs of a comeback?
This was surprisingly funny with really good performances from all but it lacks a certain something that makes the great movies stand out and therefore is another example of what is wrong with The Weinstein Company in recent years.
The Master (2012)
Technically brilliant with superb performances but in the end it provided an unsatisfying cinematic experience.
Bande a Part (1964) was the second Godard from the noir-a-thon after Bout de Souffle.
I remember this with a lot more fondness than the pleasure I garnered from rewatching it. At times it's a fun caper but towards the end things start to drag and no amount of 3 minute dance sequences and 1 minutes silence can make up for it.
For A Good Time, Call... (2012) is the latest in the new supply of interesting, funny and intelligent female centred comedies we've seen recently.
The best bit, it's not about men. It's not about women finding men, fighting over men, winning back men, it's about self discovery and friendship.
Comes A Bright Day (2012) is an interesting and enjoyable low budget romantic movie set during a jewel heist.
Fine performances all round and some very nice cinematography are let down slightly by a script that could have used a little tightening and some really quite strange moments that defy explanation for their presence in the movie other than to appear quirky.
 Rogue Cop (1954)
I started out giving it the benefit of the doubt based on the source material but scene after scene rolls on by without any semblance of action or legitimate drama that aren't just plot devices.
Sometimes They Make Something Great
Shinoda Lang Preminger

Metropolis (1927) was supposed to be screened at the delightful John Waters themed Rooftop Cinema here in Perth but due to a rare rainstorm got cancelled, instead we drank our mulled wine on the sofa and screened the remastered Blu.
A masterpiece in the true sense of the word, this is essential viewing for any lover of cinema.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
One of the finest courtroom dramas ever made. Stewart and Gazzara are superb and Preminger provides solid direction as the loopholes in the legal system of America comes under scrutiny with more than its fair share of laughs. In my opinion, not as good as Wilder's Witness For The Prosecution.
Pale Flower (1964) was recommended to me by yet another in a series of great reviews from Bonjour Tristesse over a year ago and didn't disappoint when I finally saw it.
Mesmerising visuals combined with equally effective audio to create one of the finest pieces of noir nihilism ever captured on celluloid and certainly one of if not the best yakuza films ever made.

And that's November folks. Feel free to discuss absolutely anything in the comments. How did my 51 films stack up against your monthly viewing figure? Have you ever come close to watching 108 movies in one month? This weekend I saw 8 movies, do you think that level of viewing is sustainable? Does anybody agree with me on that Steve Carrell movie? Who has been lucky enough to see Metropolis outside with an orchestra without getting rained off?


  1. That rooftop cinema sounds very cool. It rains so often here that the concept of an outdoor cinema seems completely absurd to me.

    I had a real lazy month, mostly catching up on festival reviews and working on other things. I probably only saw a half dozen new films.

    Once again, very glad my recommendation came through, and I totally agree with you about The Master.

    1. Rooftop cinema is new for Perth but we've had cinemas in parklands for years, Melbourne has pretty awful weather and also partakes in sporadic outdoor movie watching. It's a great way to watch movies. Tomorrow we attend the opening of one of the locations for a screening of Argo, which I'm quite excited by.

      Six new films is pretty low but your content hasn't faltered in the slightest, I might never have known!. I'm glad you agree on The Master, I had a feeling that it was going to be an unpopular reaction. Film bloggers are a hyperbolic bunch about things like this, there's no room for just being good, we must outdo each other in attempts to use the most superlatives and more fool the loser who points out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

    2. Glad you didn't notice. I actually went from posting every single day, to just weekdays, and lately that's turned into only 3 or 4 days a week. Partly because I've been distracted, but I think the biggest factor is I spend far more time and effort in my writing these days compared to when I started.

    3. I guess its the fact I'm not checking in every single day that I haven't noticed then. Your content is consistently high quality and focussed, you definitely give that impression anyway and the gaps in daily content surely aren't noticed so readily because of it. It must be hard work watching so many films and adding them to your seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge bank.

  2. Nice write-up here. Shit man, your Deadfall review had me rolling. I'd love to see a Making Of doc that does indeed explain how the hell that movie got made. I mean... disaster.

    1. The thing that really bugged me was that the idea is pure noir and the execution managed to rob it of that at it's most basic level. That takes some doing. See The Ice Harvest for a decent example of what I hoped for.

    2. That movie rocks. Funny, appropriately violent, smart. Well done capper.

  3. Nice month. I saw 51 films too. They might be awful, but I do want to see Deadfall and ParaNorman. And I must admit I have a slight fondness for The Three Musketeers, even if it is bad. :)

    Yay! Glad you watched Metropolis and Anatomy of a Murder. I agree on Witness for the Prosecution, but I haven't seen AOAM in a long time.

  4. Leah loves the Disney version with Oliver Platt which is why she wanted to see this new one, I wish we hadn't.

    There's an amazing selection of Preminger movies coming up on TCM this month, I'm going to watch all of them I think. Although I may skip Saint Joan and the other really long religious one. I have little patience for the subject matter and the Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc is the only one for me ;)

  5. That's an impressive month of movie watching, man. Completely shatters my personal record.

    Haven't seen most of these, but I completely agree with you on Seeking a Friend. Really interesting premise but it became a complete wreck at the end.

    I also thought The Lady Vanishes was a little disappointing, at least when compared to the constant praise I heard beforehand. It was a good little film, but not one of Hitchcock's finest. Still need to see The 39 Steps.

    1. Actually i saw 39 Steps in November too. It was a forgettable experience that wasn't a patch on the novel and tries too hard for humour