February’s Failures

Once upon a time, I never thought I’d be mentioning a Jackass film on this blog, but the release of revival movie Jackass Forever caused me to seek out the first two in the series, and I do intend to watch the rest eventually. Not going to the cinema for it, though. Or, indeed, anything else this month. Fare like Moonfall and Uncharted is very much in the “wait for streaming” camp for me — I’ll surely watch them both eventually, and it may even turn out I enjoy them, but they’ll wait. I did enjoy Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, so I was tempted by Death on the Nile, but, honestly, I’m still not sold on the whole “living with Covid” thing, so it’s going to take more than that to persuade me out to the cinema. Other things — like animations Belle and Flee — had more limited releases and I don’t even know if they came near me.

The return of the big screen doesn’t mean the streamers have let up on originals, although their quality continues to be variable. I’ve heard good things about Steven Soderbergh’s latest, Kimi, which went straight to Sky Cinema here in the UK, emulating it’s “direct to HBO Max” release Stateside. But their other originals — school shooting thriller The Desperate Hours and language-barrier romcom Book of Love — have received lesser notices. Netflix, on the other hand, could boast Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s first film in almost a decade, Bigbug, and yet I’ve seen precisely one tweet mentioning it. Their latest reincarnation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, on the other hand, did seem to generate chatter, but little of it positive. And the less said about Madea and Mrs Brown teaming up for A Madea Homecoming, the better.

In that middle ground of “cinema releases coming quickly to streaming”, MUBI continue to rule with the likes of Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman and Icelandic folk horror Lamb, although Disney+ come close with Kingsman prequel The King’s Man and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. On a slightly slower track, Sky Cinema also had a pretty strong showing of stuff this month, mainly in the horror realm. We’re talking Freaky, The Forever Purge (I’ve got a couple of others left before I get to that, personally), Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth, and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (I quite enjoyed the first, so I’ll give it a chance). Also, not a horror but it looks horrific: Space Jam: A New Legacy. And quirky British true story comedy Dream Horse, which looks worth it just for the international cast’s attempts at the Welsh accent.

As usual, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and All 4 produced plenty of stuff from deeper in the archive that I’m happy to fill out my watchlist with while clearly being in no rush to get round to. Normally I’d include Netflix in that list, but I’ve not jotted down much on my shortlist this month; though MUBI had an uncommonly good showing, the standout being Jiro Dreams of Sushi right at the end of the month. Others of particular interest included The Passion of the Christ (I feel I really should’ve seen that by now), the 1950s version of Around the World in 80 Days, Ripley adaptation The American Friend, and Memento, which I haven’t revisited in many a year. I own it on DVD, but, naturally, it’s in HD on iPlayer.

Finally, the inexorable growth of my Blu-ray collection continued unabated, with a mix of new releases and sale pickups. Although I watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife in February, I picked it up in the series’ Ultimate Collection box set, meaning I now have 4K copies of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II on my watchlist. And that’s not all from the rewatch back catalogue, because HMV’s rolling offer of half-price UHD discs also allowed me to nab La La Land, Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, the original Scream, and The Shawshank Redemption — a rare film that I love (or like a lot, at least) but never upgraded to Blu-ray, so jumping from DVD straight to 4K feels like some kind of victory.

There were new releases in 4K too, of course, most prominently Dune: Part One (how I wish it said that on the spine — it inevitably won’t match the sequel), which I imported from France so I also have it in 3D, and The King’s Man. Could’ve just watched that on Disney+, or at least given it a go there first, but as I own the first two it was inevitable I’d buy it, so I just got on with it. And, as we all know, discs are better than streaming anyway. I also took a punt on adult fantasy animation The Spine of Night in 4K, imported from the US alongside a new edition of Candyman III: Day of the Dead — it’s meant to be a rubbish film, but it completes my Candyman collection. Unfortunately, it’s also a somewhat rubbish disc, with noticeably weaker picture quality compared to a German release from a while back. Still, lots of special features. If I actually like it when I watch it, maybe I’ll treat myself to the German disc too. Based on everyone else’s opinion, that seems unlikely.

UK labels continue to rollout martial arts classics — I feel like something must have changed in the licensing of these, because we got hardly any a few years ago, while now there’s at least a couple every month from 8 Films or Eureka, and now Arrow getting in on the game too. Anyway, this month’s releases included The Flag of Iron and Legendary Weapons of China from 88 Films, and Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon from Eureka, who also released silent epic The Indian Tomb on their Masters of Cinema line. They’d previously released Fritz Lang’s 1950s remake on DVD, which went OOP just before their release of the silent one came out. I presume that’s just a funny coincidence. And last but very much not least on the new release pile, Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film: A New Generation. Long-time readers will surely remember how much I loved his series The Story of Film: An Odyssey, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this sequel. Now I’ve just got to make room for its near-three-hour running time.

I’ve ummed and ahhed for years about upgrading my Charlie Chaplin box set to the Blu-ray version, especially as there have been a couple now, and the extra features vary, and the picture quality isn’t always the best. But Amazon cut it to such a low price this month, I decided just to give in — so that’s 11 features, a mix of ones I’ve seen and ones I haven’t. They may not be the very best available, but they’re a lot better than my DVD copies (which I can hang onto for the missing extras, because I’ll never make much reselling them anyway), and a lot cheaper than buying the films individually — which I can always do if I particularly love any of them. Criterion have put most of them out in the US, and are about to start bringing them to the UK, so we’ll see as they go along. Talking of box sets I’d overlooked but was tempted into by sales (it might not sound like a common problem, but it is for me), Indicator tempted me to grab their four-film John Ford at Columbia set this month; and because that wasn’t expensive enough to qualify for free postage, I also delved into their 5-for-whatever offer, picking up Eyes of Laura Mars, Modern Romance, Night Tide, See No Evil, and Time Without Pity. Their releases are so well-done, and their picks often so obscure but intriguing, that it’s easy to just keep buying them. Now, I just need to make the effort to actually watch more of them, too.

Looking at that (not-so-)little lot, it’s easy to see why my bank account felt severely depleted by the end of the month. Maybe in March I’ll finally resist the lure of sales… but there’s always all those exciting new releases… Oh, I’m damned.

The Comparatively Calm Monthly Review of February 2022

For a moment, set aside your fears of World War III and/or anticipation for The Batman (whichever is taking up more of your mental capacity right now; possibly both) and journey with me back, back, back to a time when military invasion was just a threat and Batman reactions were still embargoed — i.e. last month.



This month’s viewing towards my yearly challenge

#13 She’s Gotta Have It (1986) — WDYMYHS #2
#14 The Hobbit (1977) — Decades #8
#15 Jackass Number Two (2006) — Series Progression #1
#16 Shot in the Dark (1933) — Decades #9
#17 A Room with a View (1985) — Rewatches #2
#18 The Misfits (2021) — New Films #2
#19 Tintin and the Temple of the Sun (1969) — DVDs #2
#20 Los Olvidados (1950) — Blindspot #2


  • I watched 13 feature films I’d never seen before in February.
  • Seven of them counted towards my 100 Films in a Year Challenge, along with one rewatch.
  • As with last month’s ‘new film’, The Misfits is originally a 2021 release; but, best I can tell, its UK debut only came this month (as a direct-to-Prime Amazon Exclusive), so it counts as a 2022 release for the purposes of the Challenge.
  • Another oddity of my new rules kicked in this month. When I watched the first Jackass movie, it didn’t count for anything (the only place it could’ve qualified was Decades for the 2000s, but that had been taken); but then I watched the first sequel, and now that does count, as Series Progression. My scrupulous planning ahead for rare eventualities does pay off, see.
  • All the great films from the 1930s that I haven’t seen and could’ve watched to count towards my Decades tally, and instead I’ve filled the slot with a 52-minute “quota quickie” murder mystery. And, frankly, I don’t regret it in the slightest.
  • This month’s Blindspot film was Luis Buñuel’s ‘true story’ of children in poverty in mid-century Mexico, Los Olvidados, aka The Young and the Damned. That English-language title does kinda sum it up.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was Spike Lee’s pro debut, She’s Gotta Have It, which (as discussed last month) completes the films for which I was reliant on streaming. That’s one less thing to worry about.
  • Away from the Challenge, 13 beats January’s 11 to be 2022’s de facto best month in those stakes.
  • But it’s not a huge number, so falls short of most stats I keep an eye on: February’s all-time performance (the best is 27); the February average (previously 14.2, now 14.1); and the average of the last 12 months (previously 16.0, now 14.8).
  • My “failures” section may have been spun off onto its own dedicated post this year, but that hasn’t affected how many I actually watch: this month, I didn’t catch up with any of last month’s failures.



The 81st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Its nostalgia-driven style may have enraged some critics and cineastes, but (anecdotally, at least) it seems to have worked gangbusters for regular folk — and, for once, I’m counting myself among the latter. There were certainly ‘worthier’ films among this month’s viewing, but nothing so all-around entertaining as Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
A few to choose from this month — it’s felt like an underwhelming start to the year, I must say, with the poor and (mostly) mediocre films outweighing the good stuff. Anyway, the nadir has to be The Brits Are Coming, known in the US (and therefore most places online) as The Con Is On. It promises a stylish crime caper with an all-star cast. It delivers an amateurish-feeling wannabe-comedy that makes you wonder how come this cast were that desperate for work.

Most Compromised Viewing Experience of the Month
Nowadays, we’re used to ultra-faithful HD presentations that do their utmost to present films in their original cuts and original aspect ratio with original colour grading and original audio, to faithfully replicate the filmmakers’ intended vision. But not everything has been granted such treatment, like my DVD copy of Tintin and the Temple of the Sun — or, as the revised title card would have it, courtesy of some Windows MovieMaker-level text animation, The Seven Crystal Balls & Prisoners of the Sun. At least the rest of the opening titles are intact, which apparently wasn’t the case on VHS. The tape also cut two musical numbers, though the DVD only restores one. Despite most of the film being dubbed into English — with no original French audio option offered — the song wasn’t dubbed; but nor is it subtitled, so goodness knows what it was about. It’s bookended by some weird digital edits, suggesting more footage was cut, or possibly lost. And talking of audio, serves me right for choosing the remixed 5.1 track, which occasionally misses random sound effects and music cues. All of that without mentioning the strange digital artefacts that pop up now and then. Far from ideal… but also, as far as I’m aware, the only English-friendly version available (I doubt they fixed any of these problems for the iTunes release).

Moment That’s a Great Visual But Impossible to Adequately Describe in Writing of the Month
There’s a bungee jump stunt in Jackass Number Two that isn’t one of their most elaborate or dangerous, and certainly is a long way from being their grossest, but nonetheless ends in a moment of hilarity that, literally, has to be seen. I could try to describe exactly what occurs in the split-second, but it would take many words to convey accurately and still wouldn’t do justice to seeing it happen in a fraction of a second. It’s not even their funniest or most audacious thing, it’s just… gravity. Nature always wins.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Despite my return to (relatively) regular posting this year, February is my lowest month for traffic since… well, since as far back as the WordPress stats page shows (October 2019). Oh well. And despite many of my posts containing multiple different films to pique readers’ interest(s), it was actually a single-film review that came out on top for new posts: Ghostbusters: Afterlife.



Every review posted this month, including new titles and the Archive 5


Assuming we don’t all get nuked by a frustrated Russian, next month begins with The Batman, which got rave reviews when its embargo lifted yesterday, and ends with the Oscars, which can’t seem to do anything right this year. Hopefully, I’ll see them both.

But what is February, if not 2021 persevering?

WandaVision’s penultimate episode, and one particular quote from it, has been the talk of the town lately (or: the argument of the weekend on Twitter), but here we can set aside such concerns (I mean, I’ve got a whole post with a WandaVision review in it if you did want to get into it) and just look back at all the films I watched in February 2021…


#27 Weird Woman (1944)
#28 Coming to America (1988)
#29 The Burning Buddha Man (2013), aka Moeru butsuzô ningen
#30 High Life (2018)
#31 When the Wind Blows (1986)
#32 Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
#33 The Dig (2021)
#34 Isn’t It Romantic (2019)
#35 The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), aka Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
#36 Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
#37 Tangerines (2013), aka Mandariinid
#38 The White Tiger (2021)
#39 Shakespeare in Love (1998)
#40 The Last Warning (1928)
#41 Mortal Kombat (1995)
#42 The Guilty (2018), aka Den skyldige
#43 The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
#44 The House of Fear (1939)
#45 Muse: Simulation Theory (2020)
#46 News of the World (2020)
#47 The ’Burbs (1989)
#48 Xchange (2001)
#49 Vampyr (1932)
#50 Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
#51 Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983), aka Shu Shan – Xin Shu shan jian ke
#52 Radioactive (2019)
#53 Frankenstein (1931)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The Last Warning

The Quatermass Xperiment

Frankenstein

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  • I watched 27 new feature films in February.
  • That puts it in the top 10 months of all time, in 10th place — the exact same feat January only just managed (so January is now pushed out to 11th, obv).
  • It’s the best February ever, topping 2014’s 24, and is far past the February average (previously 13.2, now 14.2), as well as the rolling average for the last 12 months (previously 23.2, now 23.9), and sets the average for 2021 so far at 26.5.
  • In terms of yearly milestones, I passed both #30 (the quarter-way point of my current 120-film goal) at the earliest time ever (4th February, beating 13th February in 2016), and #50 (the halfway point of my eponymous goal), also at the earliest ever (beating 2016’s 6th March). And #53 is the furthest I’ve ever reached by the end of February, surpassing #44 from (when else) 2016. (2016 wasn’t my best year ever, just a fast starter, so if I keep this up then at some point it’s going to be different year(s) that I’m passing.)
  • Last March I commented on how many letters of the alphabet I’d ticked off — seven in January, eight in February, nine in March. Of the two remaining, I never did get to X. Well, this year I’ve finished all 26 before the end of February. In fairness, that’s because I noticed how well I’d done in January — 15! — and made a point of finishing it off. But it’s also a side effect of watching so many films so much earlier. If I looked at other years up to around the 50-film mark, whenever that was reached, perhaps I’d find those too had hit most/all letters.
  • It’s not something I mention often, but as February began I was in the middle of watching or rewatching 23 film series. That’s quite a few — I certainly wasn’t looking to add any more to the list. But sometimes you just fancy watching a ’70s big-screen spin-off of a ’60s sci-fi TV series, or a big-screen remake of a ’50s British serial, or a classic Universal horror movie. And now I’m up to 26 series underway. (I track which I’m watching via the one I need to watch next on Letterboxd here, if you’re interested.)
  • This month’s Blindspot film: the classic Universal adaptation of Frankenstein. It’s only 70 minutes long, and I always try to save such shorter films on my list for later in the year, just in case for some reason I really need ones I can easily squeeze in; but sometimes you just have to accept that, although you don’t need a 70-minuter you can easily squeeze in, that’s all you want. Also, it paired quite nicely with The Last Warning, which (as I learnt from the audio commentary on the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray) was one of the films that was essentially the forebear to Universal’s famed horror cycle.
  • Talking of The Last Warning, at #44 is The House of Fear — not the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes film (I reviewed that here), but a remake of The Last Warning that used the title of the original novel (that was then reused for the Holmes film — Universal were terrible for that in the ’30s and ’40s, apparently).
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Dig, The Guilty, High Life, Weird Woman, and The White Tiger.



The 69th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
This month, I boldly went where I’ve never gone before and started the Star Trek movie series from the beginning. Star Trek: The Motion Picture has never had a particularly good rep, but you’ve gotta start at the start, right? So it was a pleasant surprise when I really enjoyed it — to the point where I gave it five stars and a heart-thing on Letterboxd. I nearly didn’t go so high, because Wrath of Khan is “the best one” and now I’ve got nowhere to go if I do like it even more; but I don’t think you can go around rating films on that basis (you’d never give anything full marks just in case there was ever anything better), so…

Least Favourite Film of the Month
This month ended on a bit of a downer, with a run of films that didn’t live up to my hopes and expectations. Nonetheless, they weren’t as outright bad as some I watched earlier in the month — like Mortal Kombat, which was supposedly a mid-’90s blockbuster but actually looked like a mid-’90s syndicated TV series, with writing, acting, and fight choreography of a similar or lesser quality.

Most Recent Best Picture Winner I Hadn’t Seen of the Month
Shakespeare in Love is the only Oscar Best Picture winner from the last 30 years that I hadn’t seen. Hurrah! Now that I’ve ticked that one off, my oldest unseen is 1988’s Rain Man, which is helpfully on this year’s Blindspot list. After that, I’ll slip back just one year further, to 1987’s The Last Emperor. Indeed, my track record with ’80s winners isn’t great: I’ve seen more from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s (plus, obviously, the ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s). Well, I’ll tick ’em all off someday.

Film Just Barely on the IMDb Top 250 of the Month
When I watched it, Tangerines was the 249th film on the IMDb Top 250. It’s not there now, but it might be again tomorrow — those ones near the end are very volatile; a handful of films that switch places back and forth, jumping on and off the list, on a regular basis. So why focus any viewing efforts there? After all, eventually they’re certain to drop off when something darts in higher up (even in a movie-poor year like 2020, two films made it onto the Top 250; there are eight from 2019). Well, I feel like once these movies do definitively drop off the list, they’re liable to become a bit forgotten. Not all of them, obviously — films in the “danger zone” like Three Colours Red or It Happened One Night have enough cache to keep them talked about for other reasons — but smaller, often foreign films like Tangerines are liable to just slip away. And, in theory, they’re still great films. I mean, they may disappear from the top 250, but they’re still theoretically among the top 260, or 275, or 300 (etc), greatest films ever made. But then they won’t be on a list, so I won’t think to watch them — so better to do it now, right?

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Although it only went live early yesterday evening, my 67th TV column still managed to storm past all last month’s film reviews to by February’s most-viewed post. (A distant second, with almost exactly half as many hits, was my review of Muse: Simulation Theory — which had also been on TV. Really, TV’s the game to be in if you want those page views.)



My Rewatchathon was right on pace this month, although that means I still have to catch up for last month’s shortfall.

#3 Frozen 3D (2013)
#4 The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), aka Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
#5 Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
#6 Apollo 13 (1995)

In a rare (I think probably unique) feat, The Adventuress of Prince Achmed is both 2021’s #35 and Rewatchathon 2021’s #4. This isn’t just because I enjoyed it so much (although it is very good), but because the BFI Blu-ray has a choice of soundtracks: the original 1926 musical score, or an English voiceover narration, recorded in 2013 but based on director Lotte Reiniger’s own English translation of her original German text. I watched them in that order, and felt the narration added nothing of value to the experience, especially as it sounds like it comes from a preschool storybook. Just stick to the original music.

As for the others, I rewatched Frozen in readiness to finally watch Frozen II sometime soon (though I didn’t get round to it this month, did I). I hadn’t seen it in 3D before; the effect was solid but surprisingly low-key, although it took off anytime it snowed, etc. If you want some idea of when that “sometime soon” for the sequel might be, look to Crocodile Dundee II, which I’ve been meaning to watch since I enjoyed a rewatch of the first one… in March 2019. I’m sure I watched it as a kid (hence why it’s a rewatch), but I didn’t remember a second of it — probably because it’s a rather perfunctory sequel; kinda slow and lacking most of the charm of the original.

Finally, Apollo 13 completed a mini Tom Hanks kick, as I watched it immediately after News of the World and The ’Burbs. It’s a great movie — indeed, I had a little word with Letterboxd about how it’s not getting the kind of ratings it deserves.


At one point this month Twitter was all over new comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, but as a premium VOD release it’s £14 and I’m not paying that to rent anything, thanks. Also going straight to rental was the latest Nic Cage craziness, Willy’s Wonderland, although at a normal rental price. Mixed reviews put me off so far, though. I did rent David Byrne’s American Utopia (on offer from Amazon), so that’ll be in next month’s viewing, and I was going to fork out for the interesting-looking documentary A Glitch in the Matrix until I saw a raft of negative reactions.

The streamers continued to throw out brand-new exclusives, with Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie probably the most talked-about this month. It sounds irritating, to be honest, whereas Korean sci-fi Space Sweepers is probably more in my lane. Over on Amazon, Gerard Butler disaster flick Greenland, Rosamund Pike’s Golden Globe-winning I Care a Lot, and Bliss, starring Owen Wilson/Salma Hayek in a sci-fi romance from the writer/director of Another Earth, all made my watchlist but didn’t actually grab my viewing time. The same is true of teen time loop romcom The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, which feels a bit like a placeholder before Palm Springs‘ belated UK release in April.

Talking of stuff finally making it to the UK, Netflix added Josh Trank’s Capone this week, so that can go on my watchlist out of curiosity but never actually get got to because it’s meant to be rubbish. More in my lane, perhaps, is Cold War thriller The Catcher Was a Spy, which apparently came out in 2018, but not here in the UK, where it’s just popped up as an Amazon Original. Going even older, Netflix added a mass load of Swedish films this month, including three silents — Terje Vigen, Ingeborg Holm, and Herr Arnes Pengar — that are all in IMDb’s Top 50 for the 1910s, so that’s interesting. Meanwhile, Amazon added 2013 Jason Statham actioner Homefront, which came onto Netflix US last month and shot to #1, despite being a flop on its theatrical release. I do like a bit of Statham action now and then, and this one comes recommended, so it’s probably worth a shout at some point. Another discovery was The Grand Heist — the kind of film I only hear of when it randomly pops up on a streamer or whatever, this Korean flick appears to be a period Ocean’s 11 about stealing ice… literally, blocks of ice. Sounds like it might be fun.

My cheap MUBI subscription is still going, but even with a new title everyday they managed to add little this month that caught my interest — just Cathy Yan’s feature debut, Dead Pigs, and Ridley Scott’s Legend, which is usually on Amazon Prime anyway; plus a few titles I own on disc anyway (The African Queen, Heat, and The King of Comedy, the latter two of which I’ve seen but are long overdue a rewatch). This month’s BBC TV premiere of Stan & Ollie means that’s now on iPlayer, although it’s also still on Prime, where it’ll be in higher quality; and on All 4 I managed to miss my chance to watch Love, Simon (its spin-off series is now on Disney+ but not, apparently, the original film) and Song Kang-ho in A Taxi Driver.

Finally, my disc purchases continued unabated. There was the release of Indicator’s second Columbia Noir set — I haven’t started the first yet, so that’s 12 minor-league noirs for me to catch up on now. Other new releases included a lavish edition of Jackie Chan classic The Young Master, restored with a choice of three different cuts, and Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, with a choice of two cuts, only one restored. But it was sales and random discounts where people really got me: from Arrow’s 30th anniversary sale, I picked up The Apartment, Horror Express, and Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway; from a BFI offer at HMV, I scooped up the original British Gaslight, Penda’s Fen, Ian McKellen’s Richard III, That Sinking Feeling, The Wages of Fear, and their four-film Hirokazu Koreeda box set; and I also got Ken Russell’s The Devils on offer on DVD from elsewhere.

Physical media fans will surely have noticed that Zoom changed hands this week. The new owners haven’t got their version fully up and running yet, so it remains to be seen if they’ll ruin one of the best Blu-ray retailers there was. Just before they shut down, I managed to get in one final Criterion gift card order — if you missed it’s existence, sorry to tell you now, but they sold a Criterion gift card for £50 that allowed you four titles (from a selected list). That works out at £12.50 each, which was a bargain, and because it’s been a while since I looked they had plenty in their selection that I wanted. So I snaffled up The Age of Innocence, Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman, The Cranes Are Flying, and Three Outlaw Samurai, but I could’ve chosen another four easily, maybe even eight — if I’d known for sure Zoom-as-we-knew-it was going away, I might’ve put up the extra £50, but hey-ho.


It’s gonna be a monstrous March with Godzilla vs. Kong. Whoever wins, we win, I reckon.

The So Metaphorical Monthly Review of February 2020

A busy weekend means this post is later than normal. As for the title, yeah, I saw Parasite. (I highlight that just so you don’t go expecting any actual metaphors later in this post.)

Also, as I write this I’ve realised Parasite is the first Best Picture winner I’ve actually seen at the cinema since, of all things, Crash. And the only other one is The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. What an elite club to be a member of…


#13 Booksmart (2019)
#14 The Nightingale (2018)
#15 Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)
#16 Tag (2018)
#17 Shoplifters (2018), aka Manbiki kazoku
#18 A Star Is Born (2018)
#19 Blockers (2018)
#20 Emma. (2020)
#21 Yesterday (2019)
#21a The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983)
#22 Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
#23 Us (2019)
#24 Escape Room (2019)
#25 The Equalizer 2 (2018)
#26 All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
#27 Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
#28 Parasite (2019), aka Gisaengchung
#29 Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
#30 Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

All Quiet on the Western Front

Parasite

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  • So, I watched 18 new feature films in February.
  • That makes it the best month of 2020 so far. Okay, it only had one to beat, so, looking further afield, it’s the best month since last August.
  • It also surpasses February’s average (previously 12.83, now 13.2) and the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 12.75, now… 12.75, because I also watched 18 films last February. Fancy that).
  • Passing #25 means I’ve passed the quarter-way point already. But the last time I didn’t get there in February was 2014 (when it took until April), so it’s not that noteworthy an achievement. Especially as, since last year, I’m meant to be aiming for 120+ films in year.
  • But, good news, I’ve reached the quarter-way mark for 120, too! Ending February at #30 means so far I’m behind 2016 and 2018, but marginally ahead of 2015, 2017, and 2019.
  • Lots of 2018 films this month — to be precise, nine of them, or 50% of my viewing. That’s because I’m making use of my annual month of Now TV / Sky Cinema to catch up on some misses, and as they get a lot of recent stuff first, currently that means it’s mainly 2018 misses with a smattering from 2019 (overall, 61% of this month’s viewing was via Now TV).
  • Monty Python aficionados may have observed that I’ve chosen to list The Crimson Permanent Assurance separately from The Meaning of Life. It’s commonly presented as part of the film these days, but even then it’s still separated from the main feature. It was independently nominated for a BAFTA back in the day, too, so it sort of is part of the film and sort of isn’t. And anyway, while we can argue whether it counts as a standalone work or not, the fact it’s a short means I don’t give it a full number, so even if you do disapprove of listing it separately, at least it doesn’t affect my count for the year.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: anti-war WW1 classic, and early Best Picture Oscar winner (so an apt choice for this month), All Quiet on the Western Front.
  • As best I can tell, All Quiet on the Western Front is the only film I’ve ever seen from 1930. That’s noteworthy because the only other year since talkies came along for which this is true is 1932. Quite how I’ve ‘missed’ those two years, who knows. (If we go back into the silent era, there’s still only a few more years I’ve missed; but, as we’re talking about years with feature films, it gets a little more complicated for that period.)
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched Booksmart, The Nightingale, and Yesterday.



The 57th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
This month’s viewing includes the most recent winner of the Palme d’Or, the first-ever non-English-language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and the movie Letterboxd users have rated the #1 of all time… all of which epithets describe the same film, of course: Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. It’s an awful lot of pressure to put on a film the first time you watch it. I thought it was great, but how great I’m not sure. So a clearer pick here is All Quiet on the Western Front, another Best Picture winner that has stood the test of time — 90 years and counting.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
In contrast to such greatness, there was plenty of choice for the weakest movie this month. On balance, I think the dishonour belongs to Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again — even by the lowly standards set by the first movie, this follow-up is a mess.

Big Name Star Popping In Near the End of a Crummy Musical for a Couple of Minutes to Sing Part of a Song or Two …of the Month
By coincidence and the vagaries of fate, I saw Meryl Streep do this twice this month. Both were in films released in 2018, so this recognition only comes 14 months late.

Best Musical Number of the Month
They may’ve lavished A Star Is Born and Mary Poppins Returns and Mamma Mia 2 with money and star power and all the tricks of modern moviemaking, but the best song-and-dance number I saw this month remains Monty Python’s Every Sperm is Sacred.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
No doubt bolstered by its BAFTA wins and predicted (but unmaterialising) Oscar glory, this month’s top new post was 1917.



With an end goal of 50 in mind, my Rewatchathon stays on course this month…

#6 Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)
#7 Christopher Robin (2018)
#8 The Karate Kid (1984)

I still quite like Christopher Robin. Yeah, it’s just the plot of Mary Poppins remade with Winnie the Pooh, but I like Pooh bear a lot so that doesn’t bother me too much.

Some thoughts on The Karate Kid on Letterboxd, and I intend to do a ‘Guide To’ post for it some day — mainly because I enjoyed it enough that I’m intending to watch the sequels, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen, so I’ll number and review them as new films.


Normally I start this section with all the films I missed on the big screen, but the big news nowadays is surely Netflix’s rollout of Studio Ghibli’s back catalogue (seven last month, seven today, the final seven on April 1st). The ones I hadn’t already seen, and still haven’t, from their February lot are Kiki’s Delivery Service (which I own on Blu-ray anyway), Ocean Waves, Only Yesterday, Porco Rosso, and Tales from Earthsea. Also new to Netflix and on my radar last month were Lady Bird, Hostiles, Proud Mary, and Year One (which I only notice because it was on my ‘50 unseen’ in 2009). One of their originals caught my eye, too: The Coldest Game. Sounded like a genre that’s up my street, but that’s literally all I know about it. Considering the variable quality of Netflix originals, the fact no one seems to be talking about it probably doesn’t bode well.

Over on Amazon Prime, higher profile additions this month include Emma Thompson comedy Late Night and Luc Besson actioner Anna. Also drawing my attention was Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, returning to the streamer after five years away (that’s another from an old ‘50 unseen’ list); Super Size Me 2, the much-less-talked about sequel to the much-talked-about documentary; Anthony Hopkins / Ryan Gosling thriller Fracture (a film I was just about aware existed but had ignored; but, in the sea of mediocrity that’s added to Amazon, that recognition was enough to make me read the blurb and note the decent score it holds on IMDb); and Spy Game, which I’ve seen (it’s in my 100 Favourites, even), but only own on DVD, so here’s my chance to rewatch it in HD.

And, as I mentioned, I’ve currently got Now TV for a little bit yet, so some of the stuff I’d particularly like to catch on there includes Burning, The Kid Who Would Be King, The Wedding Guest, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Crazy Rich Asians, and Mary Queen of Scots. Plus, all the Karate Kid sequels. And, drawing my attention away from that limited-time offering to something else I’ve paid for, I’ve got rentals of Hustlers and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw that expire in March (both of those were on my most recent ‘50 unseen’, incidentally).

Away from the internet, I got a bit carried away with Blu-ray purchases this month — there are 16 I could list here. Top of the pops is Joker. Also, Criterion’s release of Roma, which I got more for the special features than the film itself (because I can watch the latter on Netflix in UHD). Also on the rewatch list were Gods of Egypt in 3D (like I said would happen); one of my favourites from last year, Searching, which I got new for just a couple of quid; and Phantom Thread, which I also mentioned last month when it came to Netflix, but I finally got on UHD disc (in a two-for-one with Angel Heart). But the biggest single chunk belongs to 88 Films release of Jackie Chan titles, of which I picked up six this month, including four in a sale (Battle Creek Brawl, Dragon Fist, Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin, and To Kill with Intrigue) and two newer releases (Crime Story and The Protector).

Finally, ending where I normally begin, the stuff I missed on the big screen. I nearly went to see Birds of Prey, but I’ll surely buy it for my disc collection eventually so I decided to save the money and wait. I’ve already pre-ordered The Lighthouse, which didn’t come to my local at all. I was never likely to bother with Dolittle or Sonic the Hedgehog, though I’m sure I’ll catch them on streaming sometime. I’m less sure about The Call of the Wild, thanks to that terrible looking CG dog. I’m all for using effects for stunts and stuff, but when it’s also in regular scenes interacting with humans, it just looks fake. Finally, The Invisible Man just came out to strong reviews. I don’t normally bother with horror on the big screen (I prefer to get scared in the secrecy of my own home, thanks), but I’m tempted to make an exception.


More ticking off misses from 2018/19 courtesy of Sky Cinema. Cinema trips seem unlikely (maybe for Mulan), with my attention on the month after and the return of Britain’s best-known secret agent.

The Random Mid-Monthly Review for Valentine’s Day 2020

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I’m a blogger not a poet,
Though I did do a Creative Writing degree with a poetry component, which I don’t think I was the greatest at, but, you know, not all poetry has to rhyme…
But it’s better when it do.

Hello, dear readers. It’s been a while since my last post, but I don’t have any reviews banked ready to go, so here’s a random mid-month update. (Normally the 14th would be right smack in the middle of February, but of course I would end up doing this on a leap year. Still, it’s near enough.)

How you doing? You good? Awesome.

Me? Well, after the back half of last year was sent into relative disarray by house moves and whatnot (just look at this graph from my 2019 statistics to see how up-and-down the year was from June onwards), 2020 is off to a similarly bumpy beginning as I spend my time hunting around for a new job. Also, more directly related to film viewing, much of my DVD/Blu-ray collection remains in boxes as we shelve out The Library. Oh yes, I’m going to have a DVD/Blu-ray library. (Photos when it’s done, I’m sure.) Not that there’s a shortage of stuff I could be watching, what with Netflix and Amazon Prime; plus I currently have Now TV (for the Oscars); and there’s always new releases, both at home and at the cinema (my local is finally screening Parasite from today (hurrah for its Oscar win!), so I really ought to make the effort to see that).

A normal monthly review would have a list of things I’d been watching, of course, but I’ll save that for the proper one. But, talking of Oscar-y recent films I still haven’t seen, the Joker Blu-ray has been sat right next to me all week, waiting (I’ve been focusing on trying to get value for money out of that month of Now TV. I don’t think I have, yet). But, as mooted in my last TV review, I have finally got round to Good Omens. Gotta be honest, I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I think that might be a case of too high expectations on my part, though. It’s still good, mind — I’d recommend it. Anyway, there’ll be more about that in the next TV column.

Overall, my film viewing tally currently places this February as my worst month since April 2010. That’s very nearly an entire decade ago, people! Fortunately, there’s still half (and a bit) of the month to go yet…

The Limiting and Emotionally Draining Monthly Review of February 2019

Critique, eh?


#11 Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
#12 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
#13 First Reformed (2017)
#14 High Flying Bird (2019)
#15 Memories of Murder (2003), aka Salinui chueok
#16 Gods and Monsters (1998)
#17 Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
#18 Leave No Trace (2018)
#19 Hereditary (2018)
#20 Zatoichi and the Fugitives (1968), aka Zatôichi hatashijô
#20a Inception: The Cobol Job (2010)
#21 Fences (2016)
#22 Sherlock Gnomes (2018)
#23 Ocean’s Eight (2018)
#24 Rope (1948)
#25 Roma (2018)
#26 Green Book (2018)
#27 Serenity (2019)
#28 The Predator (2018)
Memories of Murder

Hereditary

Rope

.


  • So, I watched 18 new feature films in February.
  • That’s below the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 21.3, now 21.1), but does beat the average for February (previously 12.4, now 12.8), as well as January’s tally of ten.
  • That puts me at #28 overall as the month ends, which is the lowest I’ve been at the end of February for five years, since February 2014 closed out at just #12. On the other hand, 2015 and 2017 were both only on #29 at this point, so there’s nothing to worry about (where I should be to reach my new official target of 120 new films in a year is, of course, #20).
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Alfred Hitchcock’s wannabe-one-shot real-time thriller, Rope.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: true-life Korean murder mystery Memories of Murder. It reminded me of Fincher’s Zodiac, which is high praise indeed.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched Roma, First Reformed, Leave No Trace, and my first 4K Blu-ray (see Rewatchathon).



The 45th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
There were several films this month that earned five-star reviews — not always a prerequisite for being a favourite; and, I have to say, in most cases that was thanks to rounding up (I don’t believe a film has to be wholly flawless to earn full marks on a ratings system that’s so inherently vague!) My pick of the bunch is probably Korean police procedural Memories of Murder. As I said above, it reminded me of Zodiac, one of my all-time favourite films.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Various films disappointed, underwhelmed, or divided me this month, but lowest among them has to be the battiness of Serenity, which also gets bonus negative points for trying to use the same title as the Firefly film.

Most Meme-able Movie of the Month
In my Velvet Buzzsaw review I noted it was ripe for the picking by meme-makers, but I guess because it didn’t go down very well it hasn’t really caught on. Instead, a drama about a troubled priest from the writer of Taxi Driver might not seem like a meme-magnet… but then again, “are you looking at me?” was a meme before memes existed. Anyway, nothing else this month beats this all-purpose line from First Reformed

Well somebody has to do something

Oh, and thanks to the unpopular Oscar results, this gem has taken off too…

Will God forgive us?

Most Self-Consciously Whimsical Title of the Month
I can kind of see what they were going for with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but they took it too far and now it’s a more horrible mouthful than the pie itself.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Oscar buzz and an Oscar win did little to boost the fates of Roma and Green Book here. Instead, the top two spots were taken by reviews of new Netflix releases (an ever-popular post category), with High Flying Bird coming a distant second to Velvet Buzzsaw.



After a strong start last month, my Rewatchathon falls behind pace a little this time, with just two films.

#6 Inception (2010)
#7 Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Of note here is that Inception becomes the first film I’ve watched on 4K UHD Blu-ray. It looked great, and sounded even better. It ‘only’ has a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, though (as opposed to audiophiles’ new infatuation, Dolby Atmos), so I guess the regular Blu-ray sounds just as good; unless it was remixed, because the 4K does make a point of being the “original theatrical mix”. Well, whatever — the 4K disc sounds immense.


I once again have an extensive list of films I was meaning to get round to this month and, well, didn’t.

No trips to the cinema this month, so I haven’t seen How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Alita: Battle Angel, or The Kid Who Would Be King. I was going to rewatch How to Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 in 3D before that cinema trip, too, but didn’t get round to those either. I guess I’ll go through the whole trilogy in 3D when the third one hits disc in a few months’ time.

As for stuff that’s already coming out at home, I bought First Man, Venom, and imported the new Suspiria and the 1929 Der Hund von Baskerville, but didn’t manage to get round to any of them (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t be mentioned here). I’ve also got BlacKkKlansman and Upgrade waiting as digital rentals. The Predator was another rental that nearly earned a mention here too, but then I watched it last night. I actually tried to watch it earlier in the month, but it turned out it wasn’t in 4K (despite that being what I’d paid for) and was cropped to the wrong aspect ratio (I do not recommend Chili!) In the end I acquired it via *ahem* other means.

I also bought a bunch more 4K UHD Blu-rays this month, thanks to various sales and offers. I gotta say, though, 4K is not solving all the world’s problems (or, at least, being the ultimate final physical media format) like it should. By which I mean: although I’ve now bought The Matrix trilogy on 4K, I’ve still got to keep my Ultimate Matrix Collection DVD set for four whole discs of stuff not in the 4K set. And although I’ve now bought The Dark Knight trilogy on 4K, I’ve still got to keep my Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set for the bonus disc which has a couple of feature-length extras. And although I’ve now bought the Mission: Impossible 1-5 4K box set, I’ve still got to keep all the individual films’ Blu-rays for their various bonus discs. And although I’ve not bought the X-Men trilogy on 4K yet, I know it’ll be the same story, because that stupidly doesn’t include any special features discs at all (at least The Matrix and Dark Knight sets managed the film-specific ones). The only 4K box set I’ve bought that’s done it right is the Jurassic Park one, and I think that’s probably by accident (because none of those films had additional special features discs in the first place). I guess having to keep old editions isn’t the end of the world (selling second-hand DVDs/Blu-rays nets so little money nowadays that you’re not even close to covering the cost of rebuying), but it’s the principle — and wasted shelf space — that gets on my wick. Not to mention the looming possibility that one day they’ll do a re-release that does it properly and I’ll feel compelled to buy my favourites again

Finally, I’ve currently got my annual one-month subscription to Sky Cinema (via Now TV) to watch the Oscars, and there’s a whole host of films I want to get round to currently available on there, including (but not limited to) recent releases like A Wrinkle in Time, Isle of Dogs, Lady Bird, and Love, Simon.


2019 is Marching on already.

(D’you see what I did there? Do you? Do you? Do you?)

The Snowbound Monthly Update for February 2018

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but films are so delightful; and since we’ve no place to go, let’s look back at the last month on 100 Films


#16 Accomplice (1946)
#17 Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
#18 The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
#19 Casino (1995)
#20 Hitchcock (2012)
#21 Fast & Furious 8 (2017), aka The Fate of the Furious
#22 WarGames (1983)
#23 Black Panther (2018)
#24 Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold (1964), aka Zatôichi senryô-kubi
#25 The Dark Tower (2017)
#26 The Duellists (1977)
#27 Persepolis (2007)
#28 Being John Malkovich (1999)
#29 One for the Fire: The Legacy of “Night of the Living Dead” (2008)
#30 Birth of the Living Dead (2013)
#31 Mute (2018)
#32 Big Fish (2003)
#33 My Cousin Rachel (2017)
#34 Mindhorn (2016)
#35 The Villainess (2017), aka Ak-Nyeo
#36 I Origins (2014)
Black Panther

Big Fish

The Villainess

.


  • With 21 new films watched this month, February is all set to beat a few stats.
  • So, it passes all averages: for the month of February (previously 11.5, now 12.4); for 2018 to date (previously 15, now 18); and the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 14.5, now 15.1).
  • It’s also the second highest February (behind 2016’s 24) and the second furthest I’ve reached by the end of February (behind 2016 again, when I’d made it to #44).
  • In 11-and-a-bit years of doing this blog, it’s only the 10th month with 20+ films. That puts it in the top 7.5% of all months.
  • Despite February being the shortest month, 21 is the most films I’ve watched in a single month since last October. If you include rewatches (more on those further down, as usual), it’s the most since… the same. But to find another month where I watched more overall, you’d have to go back to another October: October 2015, aka my highest month ever.
  • This month’s Blindspot film: one of the few gaps in my Tim Burton viewing, probably his most restrained (and, by no coincidence, one of his best) film in the last 20+ years, Big Fish.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: one of the many gaps in my Martin Scorsese viewing, though sadly I found Casino to be rather overrated.



The 33rd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
This month wasn’t a bad one for quality viewing — far from it — and yet options for this category quickly narrowed to just a couple of prime contenders. Of those, I had little doubt about my favourite: ticking all sorts of boxes with its African James Bond superhero routine, it had to be Black Panther.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were a few less-good films this month, two of them courtesy of Netflix’s Originals line. Of that pair, undoubtedly the worst (to my mind) was The Cloverfield Paradox. Its surprise release may’ve been hailed as genius, but when you actually see the film you realise that innovation was almost all it had going for it. If Netflix ever try to pull the same stunt again… well, it’s not going to bode well for that film’s quality.

Best Action Sequence on Wheels of the Month
Black Panther has a cool semi-virtual car chase, and obviously Fast & Furious 8 bases almost all of its action around motor vehicles, but neither can come close to The Villainesssword fight on speeding motorbikes. And later it trots out a bus-based finale, just to make sure no one else would stand a chance in this category.

Flower of the Month
It may not be the weather for them, but after Big Fish it has to be daffodils.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
It’s the film everyone’s been talking about this month — and going to see in droves, too — so it’s no surprise to find Black Panther in pole position here.



In a real turn-up for the books, my Rewatchathon is currently well ahead of schedule…

#5 Blade Runner 2049 3D (2017)
#6 Beetlejuice (1988)
#7 The Mask (1994)
#8 The Love Punch (2013)
#9 Mission: Impossible (1996)
#10 Shrek (2001)

Regular readers with exceptional memories may recall I only last watched The Love Punch in January. Frankly, it’s not a film I necessarily thought I’d ever revisit, let alone so soon, but sometimes you need something inoffensive that will placate a group of family members with varied tastes. And, to be completely honest, although it’s an utterly daft movie, I do quite like it.

Beetlejuice turns 30 next month, so I’ll post more about it then. Mission: Impossible and Shrek will also be getting the “Guide To” treatment, to fill out my archive with posts about the entirety of each series — three of the five Mission films are already here; and while there are no Shreks yet, three of those five will be first-time watches when I get to them. This is also the beginning of a rewatch of all the M:I films before this summer’s sixth arrives. It’s the first time I’ve watched the first two in at least a decade — time bloody flies, don’t it?


It’s time for the annual update of my director’s page header image, which features the 20 directors with the most films I’ve reviewed. (The excitement never stops around here, folks!)

There were no humungous changes like the surge of Spielberg last year. Nonetheless, Michael Bay and Ron Howard have moved into positions where they definitely get to appear on the banner; but there’s a ten-way tie for 18th place, from which only three directors can be selected. Already included in the header were John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernst Lubitsch, Tony Scott, and Billy Wilder — at least two had to go to make way for Bay and Howard. Also under consideration for the remaining three slots were Danny Boyle, Kenneth Branagh, David Lynch, M. Night Shyamalan, and Quentin Tarantino.

In the end, I decided to go for a near-maximum refresh: off come Carpenter, Lubitsch, Tony Scott, and Wilder (Hitchcock stays because, c’mon, it’s Hitchcock), and on go not only Bay and Howard, but also Lynch and Tarantino.


British Summer Time begins. No, seriously: right now it couldn’t be more wintery, but in just 25 days the clocks change. Madness.

The Interruptive Monthly Update for February 2017

And the award for Most Recent Month goes to… January!

I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake. February, you guys won Most Recent Month. This is not a joke. This is not a joke, I’m afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke. February has won Most Recent Month. February, Most Recent Month.


#16 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
#17 It Follows (2014)
#18 Elstree 1976 (2015)
#19 Hell or High Water (2016)
#19a Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition (2015/2016)
#20 In a Valley of Violence (2016)
#21 Don’t Breathe (2016)
#22 Fandango (1985)
#23 Hail, Caesar! (2016)
#24 San Andreas (2015)
#25 Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (2015)
#26 Dances with Wolves: Special Edition (1990/1991)
#27 Police Academy (1984)
#28 The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
#29 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Fandango

.


  • I watched 14 new films in February, plus one alternate version.
  • That’s now my 33rd consecutive month with ten or more films.
  • It easily passes the February average (11.22; now 11.5), but isn’t even close to the highest February (last year’s 24).
  • It also falls just short of the last 12 months’ average (15.83; now 15 exactly).
  • It’s also behind where I was this time last year (#44!), but it’s equal to this time in 2015 and ahead of every other year.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS viewing: the Coen brothers’ frothy ode to Hollywood (which may have deeper stuff going on that, frankly, I wish it didn’t try to bother with), Hail, Caesar!
  • I know some people like to schedule exactly which month they’ll watch each of their Blindspot films. Never quite understood why personally, and here’s a good argument for why not: suddenly finding myself with a weekend all to, er, myself, I was able to comfortably watch all four hours of Dances with Wolves.



The 21st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
One of this year’s Best Picture nominees and a winner from the past may be among my viewing this month, but, while I liked them both very much, there were other films I enjoyed even more. Of those, I think I’m going to pick a coming-of-age comedy-drama I’d never even heard of ’til the ghost of 82 recommended it to me last year, Fandango. It’s definitely worth seeking out.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were no outright stinkers this month — and considering I watched things like San Andreas, Police Academy, and Teenage Mutant Michael Bay Turtles 2, I’m surprised. I nearly gave this award to Don’t Breathe, because the hyper-praised horror-thriller isn’t quite deserving of the extreme love it attracted, but I’ll probably give it a higher star rating than those three I already mentioned. Instead I’ll plump for Police Academy, which isn’t bad but isn’t all that great either.

Best Cover Version of a Classic Song of the Month
After getting an oriental-tinged version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps in Kubo last month, this month it’s California Dreamin’ given a hyper-dramatic do-over by Sia for San Andreas.

Best Dog of the Month
Could it be the talented Abby from In a Valley of Violence? (Very much so.) Could it be the vicious guard dog from Don’t Breathe? (Not really.) Could it be Snoopy? (Eh…) No, the actual winner is the cute little scruffy dog that gets chased by zombies but runs away and totally survives (yes he does) from The Girl with All the Gifts.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
My stats went through the roof this month thanks to being linked to in an article on Cracked.com — just those hits alone would make February 2017 my fourth highest month ever. But it was an old review (Wizardhood) so has nothing to do with this award. Two posts vied neck and neck all month, but in the end It Follows was bested by my review of “Tim Burton’s X-Men”, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Special Award for Best Pun of the Month
This is a bit “patting myself on the back” (possibly undeservedly) but, honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of referring to In a Valley of Violence as “John Wick-y wicky wild wild West”.



You may have noticed there were fewer reviews this month than normal. That’s because (in case you missed it) I marked the blog’s 10th anniversary by posting ten top tens about the last ten years. Plus the customary statistics post, of course.


Despite its aim, my rewatchathon has thus far done very little to halt my focus on watching stuff I’ve never seen before — instead of one a week, I’m averaging one a month. Oops.

#2 21 Jump Street (2012)

I suppose you could also count Fury Road: Black & Chrome down here, but the decolourisation has such a profound effect on the feel of the film that I think it belongs in my main list, albeit as an unnumbered aside, like most alternate versions. And it can’t really be in both lists, can it?

It’s OK though, there are still ten months to go…


So, I said I was going to post 100 Favourites II on consecutive days for the rest of this week. I’ve decided that’s not going to work out, so instead I’ll post the four parts weekly, starting this Sunday.

Other than that, after spending ages celebrating the blog’s anniversary, regular service will be resumed.

The Past Month on TV #2

This month, another ragtag selection of programmes I’m not watching at the same speed as anybody else.

The 88th Academy AwardsThe Oscars
They feel so long ago already, don’t they? But no, the Oscars were just a couple of weeks back. I thought it was a pretty good show this year. Chris Rock ended up belabouring the race point a bit by the end, including a few gags that went very wrong, but his opening monologue was good, as were some of the skits on the way. That there were a few surprise winners also helped keep things ticking along nicely, though (without having seen it) I think Spotlight is already destined to be an obscure answer to “name a film that won Best Picture” within a couple of years.

Person of Interest (Season 4 Episodes 1-3)
Person of InterestI have very mixed feelings about Person of Interest, whose fourth season has only made it to UK TV in the past few weeks (the belated fifth starts in the US in May, they announced yesterday). When it works, it’s a good quality vigilante/procedural action show; but its array of arc plots are as unrewarding as they are never-ending, and are consequently unsatisfying to a fault (literally). However, now that I’m so deep into it, and with cancellation finally confirmed (the foreshortened and delayed fifth season will indeed be its last, as was also finally announced yesterday), I feel like I’m in ’til the bitter end. The makers just bloody better have had the notice to get a proper ending into that now-final episode…

Ripper Street (Series 4 Episodes 5-6)
Ripper StreetWhen Amazon picked up Ripper Street after the success of the third series, it was for a fourth and fifth season totalling 13 episodes. The show’s writers seem to have taken the double recommission to heart and crafted an arc plot to last throughout those two seasons, meaning this first half ends on a big surprise and with all sorts of things left up in the air. And now we have to wait. Still, it’ll be fascinating to see how there are six or seven more episodes left, considering the predicament they’ve put the characters in.

Shetland (Series 3 Episodes 3-6)
ShetlandI think I sounded a little more dismissive of Shetland than I’d intended in last month’s review. The remainder of the season stepped outside the programme’s usual wheelhouse, heading down to Glasgow and into the world of organised crime, which perhaps lost some of the series’ unique spark. However, it chose to tackle some very heavy issues in the last couple of episodes; the kind of thing that has too often been dumped into dramas as a plot twist without exploring the actual ramifications. Kudos to the writers for dealing with it intelligently and sympathetically, then, and to the cast — particularly Alison O’Donnell — for their incredible performances.

The X Files (Season 10 Episodes 3-6)
The X FilesThe quality of this revival has certainly been all over the place. I was wary of episode three, Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster, because comedy always seems at odds with The X Files’ grand conspiracy storylines, but I thought it was hilarious and deserving of its acclaim as the best episode of the season. Home Again felt like solid standard X Files fodder, and Babylon was clearly trying to be zeitgeisty but perhaps wasn’t fully thought-through. As for the much-maligned finale, My Struggle II… well, it was a mess, and over-ambitious, and a stupid idea to end it on a cliffhanger when no one knew how well the revival would go down. Let’s hope Chris Carter is right that there’ll definitely be more.

Also watched…
  • Dickensian Series 1 Episodes 13-20 — please BBC, can we have some more?
  • Elementary Season 4 Episodes 9-13 — you can adapt the wordplay mystery from A Study in Scarlet all you want, it still doesn’t make you actually similar to Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Flash Season 2 Episode 10 / Arrow Season 4 Episode 10 / DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Episode 1 — I can’t be the only person who thinks of these like one show that’s on three times a week.
  • Gilmore Girls Season 3 Episode 11-Season 4 Episode 17 — 71 to go.
  • Grantchester Series 2 Episodes 1-2 — remember when I said I was going to watch fewer crime dramas? Because I didn’t, clearly.
  • The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story Season 1 Episode 2 — who thought this was going to be a comedy?

    Things to Catch Up On
    The Night ManagerThis month, I have mostly been missing The Night Manager. The critically-acclaimed ratings hit is, as you likely know, a spy thriller adapted from a John le Carré novel, which not only means it has pedigree, but that its star — Tumblr-beloved Marvel villain Tom Hiddleston — is now being tipped to take over as Bond. I wouldn’t know, I’ve not seen it yet.

    Next month… Daredevil season 2.

  • The Value-for-Money Monthly Update for February 2016

    It’s only words, and words are all I have to introduce this post.

    So let’s get on with it.


    The Martian#21 Predestination (2014)
    #22 Prisoners (2013)
    #23 Macbeth (2015)
    #24 Daybreakers (2009)
    #25 The Martian (2015)
    #26 Ex Machina (2015)
    #27 Quigley Down Under (1990)
    #28 Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)Ex Machina
    #29 SuperBob (2015)
    #30 The East (2013)
    #31 Pillow Talk (1959)
    #32 Home on the Range (2004)
    #33 Crimson Peak (2015)
    #34 Grand Piano (2013)
    #35 Home (2015)
    Crimson Peak#36 Noah (2014)
    #37 The Equalizer (2014)
    #38 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
    #39 Big Eyes (2014)
    #40 The Hangover (2009)
    #41 Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
    #42 Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo. (2012/2013)
    #43 Cinderella (2015)
    #44 Lucy (2014)


    • Value For Money Assessment, Part 1: before I cancelled Netflix last month, I watched 10 films on there. That’s £0.79 per film.
    • Value For Money Assessment, Part 2: after joining Now TV this month, I snuffled out 230+ films that interested me. Of those, I watched 10, plus the Oscars. That’s £0.91 per film/awards ceremony. (That subscription’s not over, so I’ll get more value out of it next month.)
    • Value For Money Assessment, Part 3: I bought and instantly watched four new-release Blu-rays this month. That was £11.87 per film. Picture quality and special features were lovely, though.
    • No WDYMYHS film this month, for reasons I’ll come to in a minute. I did watch two last month, though, so it’s OK.


    This month, I watched 24 new films. Yeah, that whole “watch fewer films so I can do other stuff” thing isn’t going so well. (“Moan when you’re not watching enough films, moan when you are watching plenty of films — what’s wrong with you?!” Yes, I do feel a bit Shinji-ish.)

    The reason? The Oscars. Not watching the nominated films, but paying £9.99 for a month of Now TV so I can watch them. Are the Oscars worth £9.99? No, of course they’re not — hence catching up on lots of other films while I have it. That’ll continue until the middle of next month… when I’ll get Netflix so I can watch Daredevil season two, and also attempt to extract maximum value for money by watching a load more films. So in the middle of April I may finally stop watching so many movies…

    Of course, watching so many films brings with it a number of personal ‘achievements’: it easily surpasses the February average (9.63) and crushes the February record (13, jointly held by four previous Februarys); it’s the 21st month in a row where I’ve watched over 10 films; it’s only the fifth month ever with over 20 films; oh, and it’s a new third best month ever. (“Best” in this sense just meaning “most prolific”, of course. Volume does not equal quality. Unless you’re Mad Max: Fury Road, in which case winning the most Oscars means you are the Academy’s best film of the year. Yes it does. Yes it does.)

    Quick inaccurate future predictions: following the relatively-huge January and February, and as I intend to maintain my ten-per-month minimum, this year’s looking at a final tally of at least 144 films. That would make it easily my second most prolific year ever. Which is nice. If by some failure of purpose I continued to achieve my current 2016 average of 22 films per month, I’d be looking at ending around #264. Sounds utterly ridiculous, but in January 2015 I laughed at the statistics suggesting I might make it to #192, and I ended up reaching #200.


    This month, I’ve all but finished posting my 2015 reviews. Just The Story of Film remains, joining Veronica Mars in the eternally-unreviewed club. Maybe I’ll fix them both next month. Plus, the debut of my monthly TV review.


    Superheroes, Disney, history, and noir — both classic and futuristic. Alphabetisation leaves the structure of this series to the whims of fate, but I think it’s a nicely varied month.



    The 9th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    Any month with 24 films is likely to have more than its fair share of highs and lows, and so it was with February. Shortlisting contenders for both this and the next award showed more of the former than the latter (nine vs. three), thankfully, but I think this one boils down to a three-way five-star sci-fi stand-off. Of those, I think the best marriage of idea and execution may have come from Predestination.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    Two animations with “home” in the title are the frontrunners (rear-runners?) here. However, I expected Home on the Range to be terrible (and only watched it in aid of seeing all the Disney Animated Classics), whereas I only watched Home because I thought the trailer looked entertaining, so was thoroughly disappointed.

    Best Apocalypse of the Month
    Plenty of movies have shown us the end of the world now, but very few have done it in a story set millennia ago. For doing it so convincingly (if not plausibly), congratulations to Noah.

    Most Disappointing Shakespeare Cut of the Month
    “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” Why did they excise one of the best lines from Macbeth?!

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    Maybe it was the broad range of series covered, maybe it was just because it was something new and different, but my most-viewed new post in February was The Past Month on TV #1. (For the sake of keeping things on topic, I’ll add that the most-viewed film-related review was my Oscars-centric take on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)


    Halfway.