Films I’ve watched since January 2014

12th January – Battlestar Galactica : The Plan. I watched this on the back of re-watching the whole TV show over Christmas. As a companion to the series it works well, and I really enjoyed it, but as a stand alone piece it is somewhat lacking. It’s set at various points throughout the series, but contains spoilers that mean it should only be watched after everything else. I guess it’s the Battlestar Galactica equivalent of Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me, and if it is considered as such then I suppose it works.

16th February – Angels and Demons. This was watched on holiday, and very much has the feel of a holiday read. It’s perfectly enjoyable, but doesn’t really compel me to think or write about it, which means it fails on some levels I suppose.

28th March – Kill Bill : Part 1 & 2. I’ve not watched these for what is probably the best part of 10 years. I watched them back to back, and I definitely think they work well as one single piece. This is in no way the sort of film I usually rave about, but I think they are well made, very visually stimulating, and they use music  excellently to set the mood. I also realised that parts of them are not in English, and I didn’t rip subtitles when I digitised the DVD. Oh well.

29th March – Antichrist . I had been meaning to watch some of Lars von Trier’s films for a while, after reading an article about him. I found two on Netflix this weekend, and started with this because it’s the older of the two. I found it beautiful and disturbing in equal parts, and it pretty much sent shivers down my spine from the first few seconds. William Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg both give really strong performances, with what must have been very difficult material to film, and although I found a lot of it quite uncomfortable, I am certainly glad I watched it. I should also probably point out that this film is triggering in quite a few ways, in that it centres around the death of a child, and is also graphically sexual and violent. It may not be to everyone’s taste, and it is something I would recommend watching alone and in a darkened room, if you watch it at all.

30th March – Melancholia. Following straight on from Antichrist I watched another Lars von Trier film, which again starred Charlotte Gainsbourg, along with Kirstin Dunst (who was particularly outstanding) and Kiefer Sutherland (who was about as wooden as he usually is). I’d read a fair bit about this film before watching it, and so I knew it was literally and metaphorically about depression, with a side order of end-of-the-world science fiction. None of this does it justice though, and it’s actually one of the best made, most moving, and most visually stunning films I’ve seen for a long time. The two female leads are outstanding, the dialogue is great, and the opening section of the film is one of the most emotive pieces of cinema I’ve seen for a while. I may not see a better film than this in 2014, and I would actually be fine with that.

It’s probably worth mentioning I also watched the whole 10 parts of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog during February and March 2014. It’s technically a TV series, but certainly warrants a mention at this point, because it’s something else I enjoyed a great deal, and would recommend to anyone who can get over the fact that it’s in Polish and was made on a very low budget.

One Movie a Day – part 5

17th April – Closer. I’ve seen this before, but it didn’t make a huge impression on me for some reason. This time I enjoyed it a lot more, and I think it covers a lot of themes that interest me right now. I would recommend this one to most people actually, and think it could provoke interesting thoughts and conversations.

28th April – Hannah and her Sisters. This one follows on thematically from Closer, although that was very much not intended as they were recommended to me by different people. It’s a Woody Allen film, and it is one of the good ones. I don’t think there is much more to say than that, apart from that I enjoyed it and will now be hunting out more Woody Allen films with a view to watching a few of them over a weekend at some point.

28th April (later) – Adaptation. This has been on my list a while, and was another recommendation (like most of what I have watched recently). I really enjoyed it, and found that it explored a fair few themes that I can relate to quite closely. It also makes me want to watch ‘Being John Malkovich’ again at some point soon, as I think the two movies have quite a lot in common.

29th April – Blue Velvet. Heading back to David Lynch, because I wanted comfort viewing, and apparently I find Kyle Machlachlan and Laura Dern comforting (maybe because I’ve seen them in so many David Lynch movies). I’ve seen this a few times, but it is still something I come back to every now and again and I always seem to see something new.

One Movie a Day – part 4

4th April – Cosmopolis. Adapted from a Don Delilo book by David Cronenberg, and scored by Metric. All people I respect greatly. It’s a well made movie, and one that I enjoyed (although I can also see why a lot of people might not have enjoyed it). I also intend to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, because I think it really works on several levels.

11th April – Proof. Having seen a rather excellent performance of the play, I thought I should probably see the movie. It’s a good adaptation, that works well, and I enjoyed it nearly as much as the play (although didn’t enjoy some of the performances as much).

13th April – The Man Who Cried. A really beautiful movie that I had not even heard of until this weekend. It is well acted, well directed, and looks and sounds amazing; as well as having a story that will likely bring a tear to the eye. The soundtrack is also great, despite containing a lot of music that I would probably not listen to without it being associated with a movie I really enjoyed. Also it features Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Harry Dean Stanton. What’s not to like?

14th April – Shinobi. Something a little different than other things I’ve watched recently, but also something that is suitably dark, and touches on a lot of themes I’m quite interested in. I also think it is visually spectacular movie, with some great fight scenes, and was obviously made with a lot of love. Very highly recommended if you like action-orientated Japanese cinema, or anything with an equal mix of fighting and thinking.

One Movie a Day – part 3

Over Christmas 2012-13 I set out to watch (on average) a movie a day. I then continued the experiment over the Easter vacation (which is much shorter, but where they should still be time to watch a few things).

29th March (Good Friday) – Youth Without Youth. I had been meaning to watch this for a while, but I knew it was quite absorbing, and I have not really had a great deal of time recently. I’m glad I waited though, because this is definitely something to watch in one sitting in a darkened room. And also it is probably one to watch alone. I enjoyed it enormously, but would probably not recommend it to everyone.

30th March – (Easter Saturday) – Shutter Island. Something else from my backlog list, which explores some interesting themes and is a really well made movie that I should have watched ages ago. I am reminded of Lost at various points though, although I suppose that is not surprising seeing as it is set on an island and features a lighthouse.

31st March (Easter Sunday) – The Red Dragon. I must have watched this at least ten times already, but I am a big fan of the Hannibal Lecter films (and in fact the books), and wanted to watch something familiar while I was doing other things as well. This is probably my least favourite of the first three movies, but I do enjoy watching them in chronological order (rather than the order they were made, which is different).

(and also) – The Silence of the Lambs. Because I’m on a roll, and because it remains one of my favourite mainstream/blockbuster movies. The subject matter is not pleasant, but it is familiar, and familiar is what I needed today. I suppose I should watch Hannibal tomorrow now.

1st April (Easter Monday) – Hannibal. This one is always a treat for me, because I’m a fan of Ridley Scott’s directing in general, and this was always my favourite book (although I prefer the ending of the book to the film). I find it hard to watch without having just seen the other two movies, but to me this is the one that stands out and the one I keep wanting to come back to. Next up, I think I would like to watch something I’ve not seen before, but that might have to wait a few days as I am pretty busy for the rest of the week now.

Christmas projects

I have all sorts of things planned this Christmas, some of which may happen and some of which may take a little longer to reach fruition.

  • Albums of the year (which I always do), and which will be ready on or around 31st December.
  • One movie a day, where I will watch one decent movie a day, and list them all with a few notes on why I chose them and how they all fit together.
  • A writing project, which I’ve started, and which might end up being a “one poem a day” type exercise.

It is good to have some time to work on this sort of thing, and I’m hopeful it will redress the balance a little after a year of too much work, too much responsibility and not enough creativity.