365 Movies, 365 Days- February

Inspired by the Doug Benson Movie Challenge, I attempt to watch 365 movies over the calendar year of 2017. Any genre of film is eligible, including documentaries and Netflix originals, as long as it’s something I haven’t seen before (you’ll have to trust me on that). The hope is I can cross off some films I’ve been dying to see for ages but have never gotten round to, as well as discover some gems I might never have come across otherwise.

As a fun little twist, every couple of weeks I will be drawing a random genre/category of film to focus on for the week’s viewing. This should hopefully keep things fresh.

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Now that you’re all up to speed, let’s move on to round 2…

February

This Month’s List

  1. Julieta (dir. Pedro Almodovar, 2016)
  2. Fish Tank (dir. Andrea Arnold, 2009)
  3. Spa Night (dir. Andrew Ahn, 2016)
  4. 1984 (dir. Michael Radford, 1984)***
  5. 10 Rillington Place (dir. Richard Fleischer, 1971)***
  6. 44 Inch Chest (dir. Malcolm Venville, 2009)***
  7. Watership Down (dir. Martin Rosen, 1978)***
  8. Thelma and Louise (dir. Ridley Scott, 1991)
  9. David Brent: Life on the Road (dir. Ricky Gervais, 2016)
  10. The Fits (dir. Anna Rose Holmer, 2015)
  11. The Magnificent Seven (dir. Antoine Fuqua, 2016)
  12. Hello, My Name is Doris (dir. Michael Showalter, 2016)
  13. Toni Erdmann (dir. Maren Ade, 2016)
  14. Manhattan (dir. Woody Allen, 1979)
  15. The Clan (dir. Pablo Trapero, 2015)
  16. Black Sheep (dir. Jonathan King, 2016)
  17. T2: Trainspotting (dir. Danny Boyle, 2017)
  18. Florence Foster Jenkins (dir. Stephen Frears, 2016)
  19. Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (dir. Kihachi Okamoto, 1970)
  20. The Girl with All the Gifts (dir. Colm McCarthy, 2016)
  21. Hidden Figures (dir. Theodore Melfi, 2016)
  22. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (dir. Eli Craig, 2010)
  23. The Secret of the Kells (dir. Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey, 2009)
  24. Ixcanul (dir. Jayro Bustamante, 2015)****
  25. Aquarius (dir. Kleber Mendonca Filho, 2016)****

***John Hurt Week

**** Latin American Cinema Week

 

Week 1

February got off to a slow start, with just three films watched in the first week of the month. Spa Night was interesting enough, but some 28 days later I’m struggling to remember much about it. Julieta is one of Pedro Almodovar’s more straight-faced efforts, while still bearing a lot of his classic hallmarks, very powerful stuff. Fish Tanks was a great piece of modern British social drama. Michael Fassbender’s star quality was obvious to see even in this early role.

Week 2- John Hurt Week

Was delighted for this category to be drawn at random, as I’ve always been a massive fan of John Hurt. He has a voice you just want to hear read you a story as you fall asleep and I was deeply sadden to learn he had passed away. I kicked things off with 1984, probably his biggest role that I hadn’t already seen. The times being what they are, the film still feels frighteningly relevant, and it was nice to see Hurt playing something a little more restrained than I’m use to. 10 Rillington Place, is a pretty fantastic and unsettling thriller, although Richard Attenborough has to take most of the credit for this. 44 Inch Chest is pretty rubbish, with an inexplicably anticlimatic conclusion, but Hurt is probably the best thing in this, his repressed, explosive Old Man Peanut turns swearing into an art form. Would have liked to have seen more than four films in this week, but sadly life got in the way, putting me further behind and in need of a catch up week…

Week 3

Ah bless the long haul flight, coming to the rescue for the second month in a row. The variety of options wasn’t quite as strong but it was nice to catch up on some light fluff like The Magnificent Seven remake (a million more bullets than the original, a fraction of the charm), and Florence Foster Jenkins (feel good but forgettable). I also targeted shorter films in an effort to close the gap quicker, which led me to the quite excellent The Fits on Amazon Prime Video: a unique twist on the coming of age story, an examination on the power of peer pressure, and tremendous performances and camerawork. Not bad for 72 minutes. On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Toni Erdmann, an excruciatingly cringe-worthy, nearly three hour German comedy that had no business in working but totally did.

Week 4- Latin American Cinema Week

Will continue into March, but got off to a strong start with Guatamala’s Ixcanul and Brazilian effort AquariusIxcanul has an interesting dynamic of traditional, folk stories versus the harsh realities of the modern world, it plays out like a tragicomedy but the drama is never undercut. Aquarius shares DNA strands with Toni Erdmann, an aging, larger-than-life protagonist struggling to adapt to the harsh realities of living in the real world. It plays it straight faced as opposed to Erdmann’s excrutiating comedy, but it is just as compelling.

 

Highlights

Lots and lots of great stuff; The Secret of the Kells boasts some of the most delightful, intricate animation- Cartoon Saloon is a real standout animation studio- and encorporating traditional Irish folktales really works for it. I took a group of teenagers to see Hidden Figures, and it was a real treat to see them get the story in all the right ways. I was also lucky enough to catch T2: Trainspotting in the homeland, and while the film doesn’t quite capture the ferucious energy of the first film, I really liked that the characters felt like they had aged in the twenty years they’ve been offscreen.

Low Points

As much as I’ve enjoyed the work of Ricky Gervais in the past, David Brent: Life on the Road really is the pits. A pointless, mirthless follow up to the excellent The Office which recaptures none of the magic from the series. Gervais’ regular writing partner Stephen Merchant did not collaborate on this project and boy oh boy was his presence missed.

I found Manhattan to be a particularly tough watch. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Woody Allen’s work prior to this, but it’s very tough to root for Woody as he spends most of the film trying to convince his friends (and presumably his audience) that it’s ok he’s dating a 17 year old. Could just about be forgiven if not for Allen’s dodgy, real-life antics, but nah mate, not having that.

John Hurt week feels a little bit like a missed opportunity, admittedly I’d already seen his most famous roles, but other than 10 Rillington Place, nothing really stood out. Would have liked to have delved deeper with his films, but time got the better of me.

Performance(s) of the Month

Too many to nail down just one, but it was a stellar month for the younger performers. Katie Jarvis brings an aggressive fragility in Fish Tank, it is a perfect balance for a role that divides audience’s sympathies. Sennia Nanua delivers a similarly divisive performance in The Girl With All the Gifts, her infected Melanie is relentlessly chirpy and eager to help, with an underlying malevolencethe-fits. The marvellously named Royalty Hightower may just top these two performances with her very physical performance in The Fits. With limited dialogue, Hightower manages to relay a great depth of emotion through movement and facial expressions, a very mature performance from a promising young talent.

 

Not to be upstaged by the youngsters, there were plenty of great performances from the grown ups. Pretty much the entire cast of Hidden Figures deserve credit for telling a story that is historically important and interesting, but never feels overly weighty. Sonia Braga is quite wonderful in Aquarius, as fierce and fearless as any celluloid heroine. And the month would not be complete without mention of Richard Attenborough’s chilling portrayal of real life serial killer Charlie in 10 Rillington Place. Slimey, calculating, and manipulative, he manages to upstage John Hurt (no easy feat) and elevates the thriller from decent to excellent.

10-rill

Richard Attenborough is a right bastard in 10 Rillington Place.

 

Top 5 of the Month (in no particular order)

The Fits

Julieta

10 Rillington Place

Toni Erdmann

Aquarius

The Year So Far

Breakdown by Decade

2010’s- 34

2000’s- 4

1990’s- 3

1980’s- 2

1970’s- 8

1960’s- 2

1950’s- 1

1940’s- 0

1930’s- 1

1920’s- 1

Days to film ratio

59 days gone and 56 films watched so far, this month showed if nothing else how easy it is to fall behind if you’re not on top of things. Will have to close the gap in March.

Total minutes of film watching

6063 minutes of film watching in two months, that’s over 100 hours, slightly over 4 days spent on this…feels like a lot when you see it written down.

Films by the Nations

USA- 30

UK- 16

France- 4

Japan- 2

Ireland- 2

Germany- 2

Spain- 2

Brazil- 2

South Korea- 1

Greece- 1

Netherlands- 1

Austria- 1

Switzerland- 1

Romania- 1

Argentina- 1

New Zealand- 1

Belgium- 1

Guatemala- 1

Some films are co-produced by multiple nations, which explains why the numbers may not add up.

Recurring Directors

Danny Boyle- 2 (Steve Jobs, T2: Trainspotting)

 

The complete list so far…

  1. The Good Dinosaur (dir. Peter Sohn, 2015)
  2. Your Name (dir. Makoto Shinkai, 2016)
  3. Star Trek Beyond (dir. Justin Lin, 2016)
  4. Notes on Blindness (dir. Pete Middleton, 2016)
  5. Le Samourai (dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)
  6. I am Not a Serial Killer (dir. Billy O’Brien, 2016)
  7. Bridget Jones’s Diary (dir. Sharon Maguire, 2001)
  8. Keanu (dir. Peter Atencio, 2016)
  9. La La Land (dir. Damien Chazelle, 2016)
  10. Train to Busan* (dir. Sang-ho Yeon, 2016)
  11. Don’t Breathe* (dir. Fede Alvarez, 2016)
  12. Nosferatu* (dir. F.W. Murnau, 1922)
  13. Carrie* (dir. Brian De Palma, 1976)
  14. Re-Animator* (dir. Stuart Gordon, 1985)
  15. Jack Frost* (dir. Michael Coon, 1997)
  16. Blair Witch* (dir. Adam Wingard, 2016)
  17. What We Did on Our Holiday (dir. Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkin, 2014)
  18. The Devils (dir. Ken Russell, 1971)
  19. Eddie the Eagle (dir. Dexter Fletcher, 2016)
  20. Chef (dir. Jon Favreau, 2014)
  21. The One I Love (dir. Charlie McDowell, 2014)
  22. Steve Jobs (dir. Danny Boyle, 2015)
  23. Manchester By The Sea (dir. Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  24. The Killing (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
  25. In the Heat of the Night** (dir. Norman Jewison, 1967)
  26. Shakespeare in Love** (dir. John Madden, 1998)
  27. The Sting** (dir. George Roy Hill, 1973)
  28. Mutiny on the Bounty** (dir. Frank Lloyd, 1935)
  29. Patton** (dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970)
  30. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (dir. Gareth Edwards, 2016)
  31. Little Men (dir. Ira Sachs, 2016)
  32. Julieta (dir. Pedro Almodovar, 2016)
  33. Fish Tank (dir. Andrea Arnold, 2009)
  34. Spa Night (dir. Andrew Ahn, 2016)
  35. 1984 (dir. Michael Radford, 1984)***
  36. 10 Rillington Place (dir. Richard Fleischer, 1971)***
  37. 44 Inch Chest (dir. Malcolm Venville, 2009)***
  38. Watership Down (dir. Martin Rosen, 1978)***
  39. Thelma and Louise (dir. Ridley Scott, 1991)
  40. David Brent: Life on the Road (dir. Ricky Gervais, 2016)
  41. The Fits (dir. Anna Rose Holmer, 2015)
  42. The Magnificent Seven (dir. Antoine Fuqua, 2016)
  43. Hello, My Name is Doris (dir. Michael Showalter, 2016)
  44. Toni Erdmann (dir. Maren Ade, 2016)
  45. Manhattan (dir. Woody Allen, 1979)
  46. The Clan (dir. Pablo Trapero, 2015)
  47. Black Sheep (dir. Jonathan King, 2016)
  48. T2: Trainspotting (dir. Danny Boyle, 2017)
  49. Florence Foster Jenkins (dir. Stephen Frears, 2016)
  50. Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (dir. Kihachi Okamoto, 1970)
  51. The Girl with All the Gifts (dir. Colm McCarthy, 2016)
  52. Hidden Figures (dir. Theodore Melfi, 2016)
  53. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (dir. Eli Craig, 2010)
  54. The Secret of the Kells (dir. Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey, 2009)
  55. Ixcanul (dir. Jayro Bustamante, 2015)****
  56. Aquarius (dir. Kleber Mendonca, 2016)****

*=Horror Week

**Best Picture Oscar Winners Week

***John Hurt Week

****Latin American Cinema Week

 

That’ll do it for this month, got some catching up to do in March, the last thing I want is for that gap to increase even further. Better get back to it…

Can’t wait a month to see how I’m getting on? You can follow my progress film-by-film on Twitter, @clancyhighhat.

 

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