May’s Failures

Ever since the pandemic, the cinema has been “back” multiple times. The latest film driving that claim is Top Gun: Maverick, the belated-in-every-sense sequel (it’s both 36 years since the original film and something like three years since this one wrapped shooting, its release delayed until well after Covid was ‘over’) that’s been garnering rave reviews from almost everyone. Obviously, I didn’t see it (it self evidently wouldn’t be topping my ‘failures’ column if I had), but maybe next month. I’m sure it rewards the big screen experience as much as everyone says.

That wasn’t the only biggie in cinemas this month though, with multiverses causing buzz aplenty between Marvel’s latest, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and the UK bow of Everything Everywhere All at Once — another film we’re urged to see ASAP, and therefore on the big screen. Again, I didn’t have a chance this month, but maybe next. Other cinema releases look like small fry by comparison, even if they include a Stephen King adaptation (Firestarter) and Mark Wahlberg vehicle (Father Stu). Coming highly recommended, but limited (so far) to a single simultaneous global screening, was Andrew Dominik’s new Nick Cave documentary, This Much I Know to Be True. Hopefully it’s not one of those “you had to see it at the time” jobs and it’ll be on disc and/or streaming eventually.

Talking of streaming, the true headline-grabbers this month were new TV series, primarily Stranger Things 4 on Netflix and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. By comparison, original debuting films were thin on the ground. The only one I’ve got noted for Netflix is a new Ghost in the Shell animation, but it’s not a true new film because it’s one of those “cut down a season of TV into a feature” ones — full title Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War — which popped up a couple of weeks before a new season of the show itself. I’ve never got round to watching the original incarnation of SAC, never mind the less well regarded (as far as I’m aware) 2045-set revival. Amazon Prime, meanwhile, offered up a Chris Pine vehicle, The Contractor, and a Zac Efron one too, Gold. Neither seem particularly noteworthy.

As far as new-to-subscribers additions go, Netflix arguably had the biggest hitter with Bollywood crossover hit RRR — even if it wasn’t in the original language (exclusivity for that has been nabbed by another streamer) and, I read, not in the original aspect ratio. It’s enough to put you off watching it… were it not for the piles of praise I’ve seen it attract. Naturally, being a product of the Indian film industry, it’s really long, so I just need to find the time for it. The next most noteworthy title on my list is another international hit, two-time Oscar and two-time BAFTA nominee The Worst Person in the World, which is on MUBI. Once upon a time Sky Cinema were king of this category — the whole reason it exists, even — but this month the best they could do was Dear Evan Hansen. Oh dear. Meanwhile, Amazon added C’mon C’mon, which seemed to garner a lot of praise on Letterboxd at one point last year, but that didn’t materialise into much during award season. It didn’t even make my 50 Unseen list for last year in the end. Still, it goes on the watchlist now.

Indeed, my watchlists on all these services were padded out with piles of catalogue additions; so many it would be far too dull to list them all, especially as sometimes it’s just a film jumping from one service to another (looking at you, Ammonite and Chaos Walking). There also seemed to be a particularly large number of things I’ve been meaning to watch on disc but haven’t, which always elicits mixed feelings — a blend of “well why did I bother buying it then” and “I really should’ve watched that by now”. It was, in fact, All 4 that were worst for the latter this month, airing several titles I’ve owned on disc for ages, including The Handmaiden, The Kid Who Would Be King, and Zhang Yimou’s Shadow.

Talking of stuff I own on disc, let’s just move onto that, because I certainly bought more than enough stuff this month. No new-new releases (i.e. recent films new to disc) this month. I’m not sure if that’s because there’s been a dearth of them or because none have interested me. There have been plenty of new editions of catalogue titles, though, mainly foreign genre titles thanks to the boutique labels: martial arts movies like Half a Loaf of Kung Fu, Hero, and Human Lanterns from 88 Films; a pair of poliziotteschi from director Sergio Sollima, Violent City and Revolver (coincidentally released in the UK on the same date by two different labels. Maybe the rights just became available or something, because there certainly wasn’t any apparent cross-promotion effort); and a whole box set of neo-noir titles from Australia’s Imprint label, titled After Dark: Neo-Noir Cinema Collection One. “Collection One”? Promises, promises.

The latter I ordered as part of a bundle of all of Imprint’s releases this month, which also included Paul Greengrass’s superb drama about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Bloody Sunday (it featured on my 100 Favourites list back in 2016); political thriller The Contender (never seen it, but it was more-or-less free by ordering the discounted bundle rather than just the other three titles, and I do like a political thriller); and Walter Hill’s The Warriors, a two-disc edition featuring the original theatrical cut on disc for, I believe, the first time. It’s the kind of release I’ve wanted for that film ever since I first saw it in 2018, so I was thrilled to get my hands on it. Just hope we don’t get someone like Arrow doing an even-more-bells-and-whistles version for the northern hemisphere anytime soon…

Talking of imports and genres, I picked up Arrow’s US-only releases of The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter and Come Drink with Me, which cost more than their UK counterparts but also boast considerably more special features. While I was getting those, I bulked up my order with a punt on the new 4K release of Heavy Metal, which comes bundled with its less-remembered sequel, Heavy Metal 2000; plus the latest classic 3D title to make it to disc, Treasure of the Four Crowns, a film I’d never heard of, but I’m always keen to support the continued release of genuine 3D content; and also a couple of films I had seen that don’t have Blu-ray releases on this side of the pond, steampunk animation April and the Extraordinary World and Clint Eastwood’s true-crime Southern Gothic Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

And that’s not even all! There were more poliziotteschi in Free Hand for a Tough Cop (great title) and Silent Action (aka The Police Accuse: The Secret Service Kill, which sounds much cooler); a couple of things I heard recommended so picked up half on a whim, like single-take sci-fi Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes and Woman at War; and a bunch of stuff that’s been lurking on my “consider buying” list for months/years and finally was on offer, like Irezumi, Over the Edge, A Silent Voice, The Spy in Black, and The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch (talking of cool titles…)

Finally for this month, the greatest frustration of all disc collecting: two re-releases of titles I already owned and hadn’t intended to re-buy but ended up caving on. First, Arrow’s 4K edition of Dario Argento’s Deep Red. I’ve largely been ignoring their 4K Argento reissues because I already bought them all on Blu-ray and, frankly, haven’t watched any of them, and the ‘only’ thing the new editions add is the 4K transfer (which isn’t always that much of an upgrade — I haven’t bothered with their 4K of Donnie Darko for that very reason). But I discovered this month that Deep Red actually added a host of bonus features, plus packaging more in line with their other Argento titles; and the screen caps do make the quality of the transfer look noticeably better, so I caved. Secondly, Eureka’s Blu-ray edition of Vampyr. I seem to remember when they released it on DVD (back in 2008) they decided the print quality wasn’t up to HD standard (although they released their first Blu-rays in 2009, so maybe I’m misremembering), but it’s since been restored; plus they’ve added new special features and a big ol’ booklet. It’s a film I had mixed/muted feelings about when I finally watched it last year, which was part of my reluctance to upgrade, but then I guess I got FOMO about a limited-edition pretty Masters of Cinema release. But hey, the film merits a revisit, and this will encourage me to do so… some day…

The Jubilatious Monthly Review of May 2022

Of course, May had nothing to do with the jubilee (other than some precursor events), and the actual long weekend doesn’t start until tomorrow, so this post title is… not the best. But we’ll probably have forgotten it ever happened in 30 days’ time, so I’m not holding back the reference ’til June’s review.

Anyway, let’s put largely irrelevant naming issues aside and get on with last month’s viewing…



This month’s viewing towards my yearly challenge

#31 The Monolith Monsters (1957) — Decades #11
#32 Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) — WDYMYHS #4
#33 Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) — New Film #5
#34 On the Town (1949) — Rewatch #5
#35 To Be or Not to Be (1942) — Blindspot #5


  • I watched seven feature films I’d never seen before in May.
  • Four of them counted towards my 100 Films in a Year Challenge, along with one rewatch.
  • Those are less than ideal numbers — I should be at #41 by now, really. Next month marks the halfway point of the year, of course, but I’m really going to have to step things up to get to #50 by then.
  • One of the films I watched this month that didn’t count was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It’s part of an ongoing series I’m watching — the MCU — so why doesn’t it count for Series Progression? Well, my personal rule when I count ‘series I’m in the middle of watching’ is that they’re series that have already finished, or where I’m catching up. Series where the next instalment isn’t even out yet can’t count because it doesn’t ‘exist’ yet. Sometimes, however, a new release can count, as with Encanto for Disney Classics last month, because I’m still watching older films as part of my catchup, so new releases get added to the end of the list. Does that make sense? Is it fair?
  • This month’s Blindspot film was Ernst Lubitsch’s anti-Nazi satire To Be or Not to Be.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was Woody Allen’s comedy-drama Hannah and Her Sisters. Regular readers may remember I needed to watch two WDYMYHS films this month to catch up. Well, I didn’t, so that goal is now bumped to next month.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Monolith Monsters (from Eureka’s Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror set).



The 84th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Nothing truly exceptional this month, as is perhaps given away by the fact I’m going to choose an MCU film as my favourite. Obviously Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ticks the usual MCU boxes, but it mixes in a healthy dose of martial arts action-fantasy filmmaking — another (sub)genre I enjoy — making for an all-round entertaining MCU debut for the eponymous hero. It’s not the kind of film that’s going to convert nonbelievers, but it’s good fun.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
This is easily This Means War, the action-adventure/rom-com mashup starring Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as BFF CIA agents who both fall for Reese Witherspoon. It’s kinda adequate as a movie desperate to appeal to both male and female viewers, but kinda fails both by trying to be two different things at once and nailing neither.

Monster That Isn’t Really a Monster of the Month
I guess The Monolith Monsters was so titled to cash in on the popularity of monster movies in the ’50s, but the titular terror isn’t really a monster at all — it’s an extraterrestrial geological phenomena. On the bright side, at least that’s something a bit different.

Most Aspirational Lifestyle (for Some People) of the Month
In my review of tick, tick… BOOM! this month, I wrote that it would appeal to some people who dream of living that lifestyle. The same could absolutely be said of Frances Ha, which is about twentysomethings failing at life… but coolly, in black & white, in New York City. Well, if you only dream of failure, at least you’re less likely to be disappointed by reality, right?

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
A series of posts I started this year has been growing in popularity month on month… Well, I say that: I’m not sure its actual numbers have been going up, so much as the rest of the viewing chart has been falling away around it. Anyway, for the first time, this month’s most-viewed new post is a ‘failures’ post; namely, April’s Failures (of course). I guess people are more interested to read about what I didn’t watch than what I did. Weird.



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


…marks the halfway point of the year — yes, already! — so I might indulge in a few bonus statistics.

April’s Failures

I guess I could begin this months’ failures with the same film as last time: The Batman. It was still in cinemas for most of the month, but I still didn’t work out my schedule to see it. It’s now on “home premiere”, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay £16 to watch it once when I’ve already preordered the 4K Blu-ray for £30-odd. So, that’s one that’ll be getting watched in June, then.

As for new releases at the cinema, there have been plenty worth a mention, but none that have actually dragged me out. Well, the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and The Bad Guys were never going to tempt me to spend cinema-level time and money, but I’m sure they’ll go on my watchlist once they hit a streamer I already pay for. Similar story with what looks like it’ll be the last of the Fantastic Beasts films (due to low box office), The Secrets of Dumbledore, although I’ll likely buy that one on disc to complete my collection. The nearest I’ve come to actually venturing out is Robert Eggers’ new one, The Northman, but obviously that didn’t happen either. There have also been strong notices for The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which I was surprised to see screening at my local Odeon (I assumed it was an indie release that’d never make it near me). Other major releases that will go on the ‘some day’ watchlist included The Lost City (looks fun), Operation Mincemeat (should I watch The Man Who Never Was first?), and Downton Abbey: A New Era, I guess (I did watch the first movie, but haven’t seen the vast majority of the TV series, so how much do I care?)

Original movies premiering on Netflix included Judd Apatow’s COVID/making of Jurassic World 3 spoof The Bubble, which looked fun but didn’t review well so I’d forgotten about until now, and Richard Linklater’s autobiographical animation Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood. But it’s Amazon who have the one that’s most likely to actually find its way to the top of my viewing pile: All the Old Knives, a weirdly meaningless title that hides a grownup spy thriller starring Thandiwe Newton and Chris Pine, amongst others. On Disney+, kid-friendly musical Better Nate Than Ever caught my eye with some solid reviews, but the trailer looks like, well, a live-action Disney movie for kids. I think it might be a Bit Much for my taste.

MUBI again have the most noteworthy post-cinema streaming premiere, with Japanese Oscar winner Drive My Car. They had quite a bit to add to my watchlist this month, in fact, including The Souvenir: Part II (I’ve not seen Part I, but it’s coming back to MUBI tomorrow), Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, The Second Mother (a film that, frankly, I know nothing about, but is a staple of the middle of Letterboxd’s Top 250), The Turin Horse, and Showgirls. Yes, that Showgirls; though, based on its listed running time, I have concerns it might be cut. They’ve also got the documentary that delves into the film’s critical rehabilitation, You Don’t Nomi.

Comfortably in second for such things was Sky Cinema, whose headliners included Dune (which I’ve seen, of course, but still not reviewed) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (which I already own on disc). More pertinently for me, then, was Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark. I’ve not seen all of The Sopranos — not even close — so do I leave the movie until the theoretical future date when I’ve finally watched the TV series, or, as it’s a prequel, do I just go ahead and watch it anyway? (I don’t have an answer. Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to either, dear reader.) Also, The Boss Baby 2. I enjoyed the first more than I expected, so maybe I’ll watch the second.

I don’t think there was anything so new on iPlayer or All 4— I guess they’re hampered in such things by still essentially being TV catchup services — but that does make them more reliable for older stuff worth watching, some of which I’ve never otherwise heard of, like When Eight Bells Toll, a 1970s spy-fi action-thriller with Anthony Hopkins, which obviously sounds up my street. Also the documentary The Truffle Hunters, although reportedly the BBC version is cut for time. Shame.

I don’t think Netflix or Amazon had any catalogue titles in the same league as any of those. I noted down a bunch of stuff for each, but it’s mostly watchlist filler I won’t get round to, or stuff I already own on disc and really should’ve watched. The one exception is Snake Eyes — not the Brian De Palma / Nic Cage thriller, but the G.I. Joe prequel starring possible-next-Bond Henry Golding. It’s the kind of weightless action movie I’ll bung on of a lazy evening someday. Speaking of which, Amazon also (re)added White House Down, which I’d like to rewatch sometime purely because it was quite fun. Whenever I see it pop up on streaming, I add it to my list for a rewatch; yet I’ve never felt any compulsion whatsoever to buy it on disc, despite my huge disc collection being full of total blind buys. Weird.

And talking of blind buys, that’s what makes up the majority of my disc acquisitions this month. Well, I think it always does. Just one thing I bought this month is something I’ve watched before: the BFI’s 4K edition of The Proposition, a film I haven’t seen since the cinema but liked very much back then. That said, I did pick up Network’s bundle marking 50 years of The Persuaders, which included all eight of the films in HD — except the films were edited together from TV episodes, all of which I’ve seen, so… Also in the TV/film grey area (in that it was definitely a TV programme, but it was a one-off feature-length production, so do we count it as a TV movie nowadays or something?) is the BBC’s 1950s production of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which finally made it to disc from the BFI, years after they first tried to release it (I can’t remember when that was, but it was only scheduled for DVD back then).

In the realm of things that are 100% definitely movies, the new Scream (that’d be the fifth Scream movie, sadly missing the opportunity to be called 5cream) is the only brand-new film entering my collection this month. Other new releases were catalogue titles, like Kino’s 4K release of In the Heat of the Night, which comes bundled with its two sequels on regular Blu-ray (did you know it had two sequels? I didn’t); or classic martial arts action from Eureka in the form of Yuen Woo-ping’s Dreadnaught and Sammo Hung’s Knockabout; or the grab-bag release Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror, featuring a trio of lesser-known entries from Universal’s cycle of horror movies in the ’40s and ’50s. And speaking of horror, that may be what Arrow is best known for releasing, but the only titles I bought from them this month were Rogue Cops and Racketeers, a small box set featuring a duo of poliziotteschi (crime/action films made in Italy in the ’70s), and 1990 neo-noir crime thriller King of New York, on sale in 4K.

Finally for this month, Indicator had one of their rare sales, which I used to pick up a mixed bag of titles that were on offer and also recent releases I hadn’t yet bought. In the latter camp were early Mexican horror The Phantom of the Monastery and P.D. James adaptation An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, while the former included The Gorgon (originally from the first volume of their Hammer box set series), neo-noir erotic thriller Jagged Edge, and their lavish edition of a Peter Cushing flick I’d never heard of, Corruption. Based on the fact the limited edition hasn’t sold out, even after being subjected to massive price cuts (I paid just £10.99), I guess a lot of other people hadn’t heard of it either. What inspired Indicator to give it the box set treatment, I don’t know.

That’s the Second Biggest Monthly Review of April 2022 I’ve Ever Seen!

If you’re unfamiliar with the work of the once-formidable computer game developer LucasArts, you might think the title of this month’s review is setting up an almost-but-not-quite record-breaking affair. Not so, dear reader.

As those au fait with the aforementioned studio’s venerable output are doubtless already aware, this month’s title is, rather, referencing a running gag from the Monkey Island games. That was prompted by the recent announcement that 2022 will see the release of a sixth game in the series. The Monkey Island games have been a big part of my life, ever since I played the original on our family’s first PC when I was about six years old, so I’m thrilled that we’re getting another. I’ve already begun replaying the preceding games in anticipation.

None of which has anything to do with films, of course (except for the trivia that Steven Spielberg and ILM did nearly make a Monkey Island film once), other than that it’s taken away some of my film-viewing time. Consequently, the following has occurred…



This month’s viewing towards my yearly challenge

#26 Death on the Nile (2022) — New Film #4
#27 Munich: The Edge of War (2021) — Wildcard #1
#28 Encanto (2021) — Series Progression #2
#29 The Father (2020) — Rewatch #4
#30 High and Low (1963) — Blindspot #4


  • I watched 11 feature films I’d never seen before in April.
  • Just four of them counted towards my 100 Films in a Year Challenge, along with one rewatch.
  • That means I’ve fallen behind schedule for the first time this year — I should’ve reached #33 to be on track to hit #100 in December at a steady pace.
  • I’m not too worried, though. This month, for example, I watched seven films that didn’t count towards the challenge, so there’s plenty of leeway to watch more challenge-compliant films in the future.
  • Nonetheless, I deployed my first ‘wildcard’ in April, counting Munich: The Edge of War as a second 2022-released film watched this month. It’s a nice category to be able to use a wildcard in… but now that I’ve done it once, I can’t do it again. Them’s the rules.
  • In case you weren’t sure, the series Encanto progresses is the Disney Animated Canon (or Animated Classics, or whatever else you want to call it — the official name has varied over time). It’s not the ‘next’ entry I need to see in that series, but that’s okay, because it’s one of the few I’m making my way through in any old order.
  • This month’s Blindspot film saw the great Akira Kurosawa in a Hitchcockian mode for kidnap thriller cum social drama High and Low.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film didn’t happen in the end, leaving me with one to catchup — next month, hopefully.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched Death on the Nile and Fast & Furious 9.



The 83rd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Aside from the films listed above, my viewing this month included such acclaimed and/or popular recent releases as Spider-Man: No Way Home and Best Picture Oscar winner CODA. But, while they were good isn their own ways, probably the best film I saw was a classic: Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Nothing truly terrible this month, but Fast & Furious 9 finally burst that franchise’s bubble, for me. Those films have been ridiculous but fun for about half the series’ run now, but I thought F9 tipped the balance too far — it was more ridiculous than ever, but it was no longer fun.

Most Unfortunate Casting That Didn’t Happen of the Month
Withnail & I is one of those films I’ve been meaning to watch forever but never quite cared enough to make the effort to get round to, until this month. Then, entirely by coincidence, I later happened to see on Twitter this bit of trivia: apparently, early in the development of Sherlock, creator(s) Steven Moffat and/or Mark Gatiss mentioned to Paul McGann that they were considering casting him as Watson with Richard E. Grant as Holmes. Now, obviously they’re Withnail & I personas wouldn’t be right for those roles, but they’re both much more versatile actors than that. As great as I think Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were, a film/series with Richard E. Grant as Sherlock Holmes and Paul McGann as Dr Watson is something I now feel we’ve been robbed of.

Most Pointless Extra-Textual Question of the Month
When the trailer for Death in the Nile came out, one line from it went semi-viral: “we have enough champagne to fill the Nile!” Of course, the character is being metaphorical: no one thinks they actually have that much champagne; she just means they have a lot. But, as I said, the line went viral, and therefor you can find multiple articles that tried to answer the question, how much champagne would it take to fill the Nile? The answer? It’s complicated. And, really, for such a fundamentally pointless question (no one’s going to try to do it for real), does any answer closer than that matter?

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Just three posts compete for this honour, once again (hopefully May will be when I finally get back on top of that), and the winner is the one with actual reviews to read: 2022 Weeks 9–11.



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


I’m going to try to get both my challenge viewing and my general reviewing back on track. We’ll see how that goes…

March’s Failures

A quieter month in theory means more failures… but, who am I kidding, there are always tonnes of these. I’d probably have to watch ten times as many films to leave this column blank.

The most noteworthy oversight this month is undoubtedly The Batman. I’m a fan of the character anyway, and now they’ve made a version that sounds even more up my street — it’s regularly been compared to films like Se7en, my favourite movie ever. But life has conspired against me, and so I’ve not yet found a time to see it on the big screen. I still might, though I’ve already got the 4K Blu-ray on preorder anyway. That wasn’t the only new film at the cinema this month, although the likes of The Nan Movie and Morbius haven’t received the strongest notices. The new Michael Bay effort, Ambulance, sounds somewhat promising, though definitely something I’ll leave ’til streaming.

Even before that, the list of movies I’ve left to streaming that have now turned up on streaming is beginning to grow. It was a relatively strong month for Sky Cinema (which has ailed a bit over the last couple of years, between a dearth of new theatrical releases and distributors wanting to snaffle exclusivity for their own streamers), adding the likes of Fast & Furious 9, Reminiscence, Malignant, and Don’t Breathe 2; plus M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, Old, although I already own that on an (unwatched, natch) 4K disc. Sky are also the UK-exclusive home for Liam Neeson’s latest action trash, Blacklight, upending my previously-expressed notion that he had some kind of Amazon Prime exclusivity deal going on.

Talking of streaming premieres and Amazon Prime, the best they could offer this month was Deep Water, the Ben Affleck / Ana de Armas erotic thriller that’s had some kind of behind-the-scenes woes I haven’t bothered to follow. On the other hand, they’re also the streaming home for acclaimed Princess Diana biopic Spencer. You win some, you lose some. Netflix’s brand-new offerings were somewhat short on widely-discussed titles (no Oscar noms or headline-grabbing production issues here), but looked like a stronger slate overall. I’ve heard good things about Ryan Reynolds-starring sci-fi The Adam Project; post-apocalyptic Swedish thriller Black Crab seemed to shoot up their viewing chart; Nightride is billed as a “real-time crime thriller”, which sounds up my street; and I also spotted The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure, which looks like a Korean Pirates of the Caribbean. If it lives up to that vibe, which I got from its trailer, then it could be fun. Also not to be overlooked is Boiling Point, another real-time thriller — set in, er, a restaurant kitchen at Christmas — that I’ve heard is very good.

But for all that, the biggest streaming premiere of the month was surely the new Pixar on Disney+, Turning Red. If we ignore the empty-headed ‘controversy’ it generated (essentially, some middle-aged white men struggling with a story that wasn’t about a middle-aged white man), it’s meant to be very good — but I’m way behind on my Disney / Pixar viewing, so it just has to go on the list with Luca, Raya, Encanto, and probably a few others. In a very different mode, they were also the UK home for Fresh, a film which everyone has been talking about while trying to avoid the ‘surprise reveal’. If it’s not about cannibalism, the marketing has done a good job misdirecting my expectations. If it is about cannibalism, I’m not sure why everyone’s pretending it’s such a big secret. Maybe they’re just overly optimistic about what can be kept a surprise these days (the poster’s a dismembered hand packaged like a supermarket steak, c’mon!) Sticking with the big D, they also belatedly (it came out in the US back in January) debuted a belated (the last one was six years ago) continuation for the Ice Age franchise with The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild; plus, streaming debuts for Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley; Jessica Chastain’s Oscar winner, The Eyes of Tammy Faye; and the second pandemic-delayed Kenneth Branagh Poirot mystery, Death on the Nile — it slipped in there on the 30th, just in time to make this the second month in a row I’ve mentioned it (after its theatrical debut just last month). I’m inclined to jump straight to buying it on disc, to go with its predecessor (which I enjoyed), and that’s out in April — so it may end up mentioned in my failures three months on the trot. Or maybe I’ll actually watch it — stranger things have happened.

Once the home to deep cuts from the arthouse archive, MUBI increasingly have dibs on new arthouse (read: foreign) hits, at least in the UK. This month that boiled down to the streaming premiere of Cannes winner Titane, but they’ve got a big couple of months ahead, with Oscar nominees Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World likely to feature in future editions of this column. All 4 do the same kind of thing later and freer, albeit with ads, recently including Bacurau, Rita, Sue and Bob Too (both their viewing windows now expired, unfortunately), Her Smell, and Ninjababy. There wasn’t so much noteworthy on the BBC iPlayer this month, although they’ve got back a couple of films I’ve been meaning to get round to for years, like If Beale Street Could Talk and Molly’s Game. I’m also going to mention La Belle Époque, which appeared on there just days after I posted my 5-star review, and is still available.

As always, we end with the place my disposable income goes to die: Blu-ray purchases… although the list doesn’t look so long this month. Indeed, day-one purchases were relatively thin on the ground: I picked up The Matrix Resurrections, because I loved it (and, er, didn’t pay for it first time round…), plus I imported Nightmare Alley on 4K (no UK release seems forthcoming, not even a retailer-exclusive Steelbook), and at the same time nabbed the new 4K release of The Sword and the Sorcerer — never seen it, no idea if I’ll like it, but I do sometimes enjoy a bit of ’80s-style Fantasy, so it’s the kind of thing that’s worth a punt to me. Rounding out my US order was a film I didn’t even know existed until Warner Archive put it out recently, the 1948 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, with a starry cast that includes Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, Angela Lansbury, and Vincent Price. Other new releases of older titles that I’ve never included Hong Kong take on Nikita, Black Cat, and Eureka’s latest classic martial arts title, Odd Couple. And then, of course, there were sales and offers: my 4K collection continues to bulge out with Halloween Kills and Venom: Let There Be Carnage from a chart 2-for-whatever; and a bunny-themed double (sort of) in a Disney 2-for-whatever, with Jojo Rabbit and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A UK Criterion 2-for-whatever brought me Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and Topsy-Turvy (I used to love Gilbert and Sullivan’s work as a kid, but I haven’t listened to or seen any of it for ages). Finally-finally, a couple of limited editions I bought belatedly at near-as-damn-it full price before they disappeared forever: the HMV-exclusive edition of Almost Famous (it has both cuts in 4K, which the cheaper regular UK release does not) and Arrow’s Yokai Monsters set — the standard edition of which is already out, at a higher price point than the limited edition. What is the world coming to…

The Slapping Monthly Review of March 2022

In my last post, a little over three weeks ago, I wrote that it had been “a hectic time, both at work and in my personal life, these past few weeks.” Well, that didn’t really let up, hence the extended period of radio silence here. Hopefully that is now behind me, however, and both posting and film watching can return to the decent pace I’d established in the first two months of the year.

If it doesn’t, maybe I need a jolly good slap… or not, eh?

Alright, that’s what amounts to “topical satire” for now. Let’s get on with how March’s film viewing went…



This month’s viewing towards my yearly challenge

#21 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) — Decades #10
#22 West Side Story (1961) — Rewatch #3
#23 Cobra (1986) — WDYMYHS #3
#24 Django & Django (2021) — New Film #3
#25 A Man Escaped (1956) — Blindspot #3


  • I watched nine feature films I’d never seen before in March.
  • Four of them counted towards my 100 Films in a Year Challenge, along with one rewatch.
  • That means I end the month bang on target: we’re a quarter of the way through the year, and I’m a quarter of the way to #100.
  • My overall viewing is going less well, failing to reach ten new films in a month for the first time since November. (You can see all my latest viewing, both Challenge-related and not, on my Recently Watched page.)
  • That said, while it didn’t reach the magic double figures, it’s not that far short of 2022’s other months: the year’s monthly average only drops from 12 to 11.
  • That said, in the world of viewing averages, a whole film drop is moderately large. For comparison, the rolling average of the last 12 months dropped by 0.9 films (from 14.8 to 13.9), and the all-time average for March by just 0.46 (from 15.79 to 15.33).
  • For the third month in a row, my “2022 film” is a 2021 film that didn’t get a UK release until 2022. This should’ve been the month to buck that trend, with The Batman, but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to get to the cinema.
  • This month’s Blindspot film was Robert Bresson’s World War 2 prison drama A Man Escaped — or, to fully translate its original French title, One Condemned to Death Escaped, or, The Wind Blows Where It Wants. Classy.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was ’80s Sly Stallone actioner Cobra. That doesn’t have an intelligent-sounding extended title. Or much intelligence on the whole, really. It’s kinda fun, though.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The King’s Man.



The 82nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched both versions of West Side Story this month, and, heretical as it may sound, I think I thought Spielberg’s was better. (As a rewatch, the original isn’t eligible for this award anyway). Not only that, but Spielberg’s pure cinematic skill sees it stand out easily from the rest of the month’s viewing.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I actually quite enjoyed The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee — certainly more than most other people seem to have — but there’s also no doubt it was the weakest film I saw this month.

Film You’d Most Like to Hang Out In of the Month
Who wouldn’t want to spend time nattering with the grandes dames of British theatre and cinema in Nothing Like a Dame? Not only would you get fabulous anecdotes, but they seem like a right giggle.

Film You’d Least Like to Hang Out In of the Month
No one said life in a Nazi prison would be fun, and A Man Escaped certainly bears that out.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Just three posts to choose from, last month, and the victor of those was 2022 Weeks 7–8. Of the other two, my ‘failures’ proved more popular than my general monthly review for the second month running. Could just be the appeal of the title, I suppose.



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


The much-discussed Spider-Man: No Way Home finally hits disc next week, so I’ll see if it has any surprises left for me (I don’t think I’ve been totally spoiled, but it’s been impossible to avoid certain big stories). Also, hopefully I’ll also finally see The Batman, one way or another. And also some films that don’t involve men dressing up as critters to fight evil.

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.

January’s Failures

Oo-ooh, wouldja look at this? After three years as just part of my monthly review, Failures has gone and got its own dedicated post! Well, it was getting ridiculously long to be just a part of something else. There’s just so much stuff to see every month, and so much of it I don’t see…

We begin, as ever, with the big screen, where there’s something of a sense of things being back to normal, at least in terms of what’s being released. I think the closest to what could conceivably be called a blockbuster this month was the new Scream, while the rest of the UK release schedule was filled with belated bows for things like Licorice Pizza, Belfast, and Nightmare Alley. Let’s be honest, they’re not things that would tempt me out to the cinema in the best of days (I’ll wait for an at-home option), never mind in Covid times.

I’m not alone in such thoughts, of course, and so the streamers continue to trot stuff out to capture our fleeting interest, though there weren’t any particularly big guns this month, unless I missed something. I think Netflix’s biggest offering was Robert Harris adaptation Munich: The Edge of War, as well as a UK debut for Chloë Grace Moretz sci-fi Mother/Android. Moretz used to be on track to be a genuine movie star, but nowadays I feel like I only see her turn up in direct-to-streaming stuff no one seems to know is coming — like, out of nowhere, there’ll be a new film starring her on Netflix or Amazon now and then. I don’t know if that’s a deliberate career choice or a case of reduced options…

Meanwhile, over at Prime Video, there was George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Tender Bar, starring Ben Affleck, and acquired fourquel Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. I watched the first of those last year and thought it was moderately likeable, so maybe I’ll get to the fourth one day. There’s also Copshop, which I think they’re billing as a Premiere rather than an Original, or something? I can’t remember, and I can’t be bothered to load it up right now just to check. I guess it’s the difference between “stuff we own and will always be here” and “stuff we’ve bought exclusive rights to for a bit”. Sky’s ‘originals’ always feel like they’re in a similar limbo. This month those included Save the Cinema, which looks like a pleasant ‘little Britain’ kind of film, and Naked Singularity, which is apparently a heist movie starring John Boyega, Olivia Cooke, Bill Skarsgard. Again, having heard no one mention it doesn’t exactly suggest it’s worth one’s time.

As usual with Sky, more interesting were their other premieres — the likes of Pig, A Quiet Place Part II, The Paper Tigers, and No Sudden Move. That last one’s actually been on there since October, but somehow I’d missed that it was a new Steven Soderbergh film. I need to catch up on his stuff. They also had Nobody, which I’ve seen and really should’ve reviewed, and Supernova, which I bought on disc and really should’ve seen and reviewed. Over on Prime, there was Demonic — which catches my attention purely because it’s the latest from Neill Blomkamp, a director who’s star has faded to the point where this got very little attention during its cinema window — and, eh, a bunch of older stuff. If I listed everything I deemed worthy of bunging on my watchlist, we’d be here forever.

Netflix’s catalogue offerings all felt like hand-me-downs: The Gentlemen, after it was on Prime for yonks last year; and Dolittle, after it had been on iPlayer all over Christmas. Talking of iPlayer, they offered The Souvenir (which used to be on MUBI) and Mary Queen of Scots (which used to be on, er, Netflix). But, hey, at least you expect a free TV-schedule-derived streamer to be a relatively-late-to-the-game kinda place for these things. Still, iPlayer does a decent job nowadays, what with also offering the likes of The Sisters Brothers, sci-fi Little Joe, Lady Macbeth, and Personal Shopper. Plus, you’re more likely to find older classics there than pretty much anywhere else, which this month included In the Heat of the Night and a bunch of war films. You can find some similarly interesting stuff on Channel 4’s catchup — the main thing I want to try to catch from last month is Topsy-Turvy, which hasn’t been on UK TV for a ridiculously long time. It’s quite long though, and C4 does force adverts on you, so I can see myself failing at that again in February.

I’m still subscribed to MUBI, though considering they add a film a day and this month I’ve only long-listed three to mention, and the only one I’m going to bother to mention is Céline Sciamma’s debut, Water Lilies, I do wonder if I should be. (There’s a bunch of stuff on there I keep meaning to catch up on, though.) As for Disney+, they seem to mainly be focusing on series right now, but did offer Marvel’s Eternals weeks before its disc release. Seems to be the way things are going.

And talking of discs releases, yeah, I still bought dozens of the things. No such thing as a post-Christmas slump for me. Brand-spanking-new releases included the 4K discs of Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho and Ridley Scott’s The Last Duellast month I mooted that I should watch the latter on Disney+ before committing to buying it. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Hope I like it! Of course, most of my purchases are blind-buys anyway — I did exactly the same with Donnie Yen action-thriller Raging Fire. Exactly the same, because it was also a Zavvi-exclusive Steelbook that’s the UK’s only 4K release. Other new releases included more Asian action in Eureka’s double-bill of Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son; the mystery of a missing hammer in a nudist camp in Patrick; and importing the 4K of Blood for Dracula, aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula, to go with last month’s import of the 4K of Flesh for Frankenstein, aka Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein.

You’d think January sales might account for much disc purchasing this month, but not really. I nabbed Blade in 4K when it was randomly cheap on Amazon the other week; and I think silent drama Piccadilly was slightly reduced when I picked it up — but that’s about it. Although I did get the limited edition of anime In This Corner of the World for a steal. Places like HMV are still selling it for £20, but there’s a guy on eBay who has it for a fiver. Seemed worth a punt, and it paid off. Otherwise, there were a couple of things that came out late last year and I didn’t get for Christmas (the BFI’s release of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and StudioCanal’s 4K disc of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and a semi-random US order. I almost order in ‘bulk’ from the US these days, to average out the cost of shipping. There’s always stuff I want to pad out an order, anyhow. This one was provoked by a Criterion sale (from which I only got High Sierra and Hitchcock’s The Lodger in the end), plus the new release of Gambit (the Michael Caine / Shirley MacLaine one) and some more new releases that are still in the post. I used it as a chance to also get Kiss Me Kate (in 3D) and Vincent Price I Am Legend adaptation The Last Man on Earth.

Finally, I also bought the animated Transformers movie — fully known as The Transformers: The Movie, of course — on 4K. But does that really count as a failure when I consciously bought it to watch “sometime this year” as part of WDYMYHS? Something to mull over ’til next month…

The All-New Monthly Review of January 2022

I’ve already lied to you, dear reader. I say that because much of this monthly review is going to seem familiar — “All-New” it is not. “Partially new”, that would be the truth: there are new graphics, and a revised focus in some sections, both to fit in with the blog’s new identity.

Despite that, I’ve stuck with the “all-new” moniker to reflect The All-New 100 Films in a Year Challenge, my progress with which is now the primary focus of these monthly updates… although you can still find links to all my reviews; and the Arbies survive, now in their 80th month, still drawing from everything I watched.

Well, we’ll see how it goes. On which note, on it goes…



This month’s viewing towards my yearly challenge

#1 Carry On Spying (1964) — Decades #1
#2 Gosford Park (2001) — Rewatches #1
#3 Penny Serenade (1941) — Decades #2
#4 The Navigator (1924) — Decades #3
#5 Flight of the Navigator (1986) — WDYMYHS #1
#6 In the Line of Fire (1993) — Decades #4
#7 Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper (2004) — Decades #5
#8 Free Guy (2021) — Decades #6
#9 Mass (2021) — New Films #1
#10 Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise (2007) — DVDs #1
#11 Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary (2016) — Decades #7
#12 L’avventura (1960) — Blindspot #1


  • I watched 11 feature films I’d never seen before in January.
  • All of them counted towards my 100 Films in a Year Challenge, along with one rewatch.
  • As you may or may have inferred from that, this means I effectively have two counts running now: my 100 Films Challenge, and how many new films I’ve seen. The former may be the official thing going on nowadays, but a decade-and-a-half habit is hard to break, so on my ‘new film’ count goes. As I said up top, it’s the Challenge that’s the focus of these posts now, but I’ll still be including titbits about my overall new film viewing. And come the end of the year, it’s the overall new viewing that will continue to fuel things like my Top 10 and the statistics post.
  • So, to the Challenge. As the year gets underway, most — in fact, everything — I watch counts. I don’t expect that to be the case as we go forward.
  • For example: I’m not surprised to see the Decades category filling up fastest, because it’s so easy to complete. Slots are filled by any film that (a) isn’t better off counted towards another category, and (b) isn’t from a decade already ticked off — and, as the year begins, none are ticked off (obv). With 7 out of 12, Decades is already 58% complete. As for the remainder, the 1910s might require a special effort (I don’t watch many films that old without explicitly setting out to), but I imagine the others will take care of themselves in short order.
  • Just in case it needs stating for anyone: yes, Mass is “a 2021 movie” thanks to its festival screenings (the US and Canadian releases were also last year), but it didn’t come out in the UK until 20th January, which makes it a 2022 (i.e. new) movie for me.
  • This month’s Blindspot film was L’avventura, which I’ve been putting off including on the list (or watching in any other way) for years. I haven’t particularly enjoyed other classics of mid-20th-century Italian cinema, like Bicycle Thieves or , so I feared this would be the same. And that’s part of the motivation for watching it first: ripping off the plaster. Well, it was a somewhat pleasant surprise. More when I review it soon.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was Flight of the Navigator, which I watched on Prime Video. The danger of putting titles from streamers on a “movies I must watch this year” list is that at some point, possibly without warning, they could disappear from that streamer. But that also makes them an easy choice for where to start. This year there are only two across all 24 films from Blindspot and WDYMYHS, and they’re both on the latter list — I imagine the other will be next month’s pick.
  • I didn’t watch anything from last month’s “failures”. And as for this month’s failures: I’ve finally decided to spin the feature off into its own post. Look for that in the next day or two.



The 80th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Although my viewing numbers this month were more than solid (getting to 100 films in a year at a steady pace — something the new challenge is partially intended to enforce — requires an average of 8.3 films a month), the level of quality was more middling. One film did stand out, though: Mass, a chamber piece that puts you through the emotional wringer, powered by a quartet of awards-worthy performances.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Conversely, the month’s middling quality means it’s also hard to pick a worst film. By a nose, I’m going to say Voyage of Time, because I didn’t get as much out of it as I might’ve hoped. Plus, MUBI’s pathetic attempt at streaming in 4K (a feature they’d specifically pushed in the film’s advertising) got on my wick.

Best Navigator of the Month
The navigator in The Navigator is actually the name of the boat; and even if it weren’t, Buster Keaton is pretty poor at navigating it. The navigator in Flight of the Navigator is the kid who bonds with the spaceship, and while he’s ostensibly in charge, I think the spacecraft actually does most of the work. But in Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper, Barbie manages to ride into the forest and go straight to the exact hidden cabin where her doppelgänger is being held captive. Impressive navigation, Barbie.

Biggest Mystery of the Month
Whodunnit in Gosford Park? What happened to Anna in L’avventura? How did David lose eight years in Flight of the Navigator? Can they catch the assassin in In the Line of Fire? What are the villains up to in Carry On Spying? Can Meat Loaf put on a gig that makes him happy in In Search of Paradise? No, the biggest mystery of the month is: what the feck is Brad Pitt on about in the Voyage of Time narration?!

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
No break-out successes this month — the victor is down in 30th place overall, behind a slew of archive TV columns — but it was a close-run thing nonetheless, with two posts tied for second place, just two hits behind the winner. Said winner was, somewhat appropriately, The Best of 2021. And now it’s the best of (January) 2022, too. Hurrah.



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


It’s 100 Films’ 15th birthday (just two months after launching! Is this what being a time traveller feels like?)

I had been thinking I’d mark the occasion with a revised version of 100 Favourites, as that’s five years old, but those things take literally years to put together (well, the first one did), and while I had been considering it for years, it’s been overtaken by the relaunch. Maybe in 2023.

Other than that, erm, things continue much the same…