365 Films, 365 Days- April

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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Here we go, let’s make April our bitch!

April

This Month’s List

  1. Super Fly (dir. Gordon Parks Jnr., 1972)
  2. Foxy Brown (dir. Jack Hill, 1974)
  3. Black Belt Jones (dir. Robert Clouse, 1974)
  4. Blacula (dir. William Crain, 1972)
  5. Three the Hard Way (dir. Gordon Parks Jnr., 1974)
  6. The Mack (dir. Michael Campus, 1973)
  7. Whale Rider (dir. Niki Caro, 2002)
  8. Dragon (dir. Peter Ho-Sun Chan, 2011)
  9. The Love Witch (dir. Anna Biller, 2016)
  10. Distant Voices, Still Lives (dir. Terence Davis, 1988)
  11. Headhunters (dir. Morten Tyldum, 2011)
  12. Dead Ringers (dir. David Cronenberg, 1988)
  13. Love is Colder Than Death (dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969)
  14. The Red Shoes (dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
  15. La Promesse (dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 1996)
  16. Lion (dir. Garth Davis, 2016)
  17. To Kill a Mockingbird (dir. Robert Mulligan, 1962)
  18. Fences (dir. Denzel Washington, 2016)
  19. Theeb (dir. Naji Abu Nowar, 2014)
  20. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (dir. Lotte Reiniger & Carl Koch, 1926)
  21. Shaun the Sheep (dir. Mark Burton & Richard Starzak, 2015)
  22. Kirikou and the Sorceress (dir. Michel Ocelot & Raymond Burlet, 1998)
  23. Ghost in the Shell (dir. Mamoru Oshii, 1995)
  24. Corpse Bride (dir. Tim Burton, 2005)
  25. The Iron Giant (dir. Brad Bird, 1999)
  26. 20th Century Women (dir. Mike Mills, 2016)
  27. The Fate of the Furious (dir. F. Gary Gray, 2017)
  28. Free Fire (dir. Ben Wheatley, 2016)
  29. Eyes Without a Face (dir. Georges Franju, 1960)
  30. Room 237 (dir. Rodney Ascher, 2012)
  31. Mifune: the Last Samurai (dir. Steven Okazaki, 2015)
  32. Paterson (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  33. Stagecoach (dir. John Ford, 1939)
  34. The Assassin (dir. Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 2015)
  35. Black Girl (dir. Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

 

Week 1- Blaxploitation Week

My knowledge of blaxploitation cinema doesn’t stretch much beyond the Shaft trilogy, so was excited by this theme selection to learn a little more about a genre I knew very little about. Of course, six films are only going to give you so wide a scope, but in between my hectic film watching schedule I was able to read up a little more about the creation of this often misunderstood genre. For sure the production values are lacking compared to other classics of the period, but there was something to treasure from all the titles I watched; be it Curtis Mayfield’s iconic soundtrack in Super Fly, the undeniably nasty direction taken in Foxy Brown, some genuinely scary and inventive shots in Blacula or the just joyful, ludicrous bombast of Three the Hard Way‘s conclusion. It was a highly enjoyable, eye opening week.

blacula-cape

Blacula is…actually pretty damn good.

Week 2

I made a real effort to avoid USA movies from this decade this week, and took advantage of a bank holiday to try and catch up a little. In doing so I was also able to wipe a few long standing films from my Netflix watchlist, with Whale Rider, Dragon, Headhunters and To Kill a Mockingbird all proving to be worth the wait. Dragon was probably the highlight of the week, a martial arts film mixed with Cronenberg’s A History of Violence and the BBC’s version of Sherlock, I had so much fun watching that film. I also lost my Fassbinder virginity with Love is Colder Than Death; minimalistic and nihilistic, the filmmaker certainly lived up to expectations.

Week 3- Animation Week

This week took some planning, having seen all of Pixar’s offerings, and knowing that Studio Ghibli has it’s own category that will come later this year, my goal was to ingest a wide a variety of animation as possible. The Adventures of Prince Achmed was certainly a left field choice to kick the week off. A dialogue free animated German film from the 1920’s was not the obvious choice, but really holds up in terms of imaginative animation, and honest-to-goodness adventure story-telling. Shaun the Sheep proved to be the delight we’ve all come to expect from Aardman Animations, made with love, and with a knowing nod to classic silent cinema, it appeals to the very youngest and oldest of us. Ghost in the Shell similarly lived up to it’s reputation as a wonderfully creative, thoughtful and shockingly violent pleasure I have come to expect from Manga movies. No remake needed there that’s for sure.

Week 4

A week off work proved to be a busy week for this project, which is fast becoming my 2nd, albeit non-paying, job (although I am open to sponsorship). I peaked at five films in a day in this period, but managed to close the gap between days past and films watched that opened up during March. This was a mix of cinema trips , Red Box movies, the BFI Player, and a couple of welcome new additions to Netflix. Free Fire was the standout of the week (and probably the month), a 90 minute gun fight that is constantly shifting tone from the comical to uncomfortable, with a terrific cast and expert direction. It is probably Ben Wheatley’s most watchable, crowd-pleasing film to date. I decided I didn’t want to wait for Documentary week to watch Room 237 and Mifune: the Last Samuari. The former is a real joy for cinema loving conspiracy theorists, while the latter has all but guaranteed that there will be a lot more Akira Kurosawa films on the list this time next month.

 

Highlights

Both the theme weeks proved to be something of an education, one learning about a genre I knew very little about, the other allowing me to dig deeper on a style of cinema I have been watching since I was little. Both were very much in the spirit of why I’m doing this experiment in the first place.

Low Points

Again no real stinkers, this process has been so arduous that I’m intentionally steering away from films I’m pretty sure I won’t like (perhaps I will push myself more in May), but there were a few that did not live up to expectations, without being all out bad. I had heard great things about The Love Witch, but ultimately felt it was more style than substance, Dead Ringers turned out pretty near the bottom of my list of Cronenberg films, and The Assassin just didn’t grab me in the way I was hoping it would.  Along with those, I was a little let down by The Fate of the Furious. Again not that it’s bad, but having unashamedly loved the previous two outings, this one felt like the fun had been sucked out of it slightly, and there was a real feeling that they were going through the motions.

 

Performance of the Month

The youngsters stood out again this month, with Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat in Theeb, Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider and Sunny Pawar in Lion all putting in terrific performances well beyond their years. The entire cast of Free Fire also deserve recognition, a fine example of how a well selected ensemble can elevate your title (Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer were particularly excellent).

But it is hard to see past Pam Grier in Foxy Brown. Even with a bizarre plot and at times questionable dialogue, her star quality shines through the moment she appears on screen. She is strong, fierce, effortlessly cool, and not afraid to be vulnerable. Well played.

foxybrown1_758_426_81_s_c1

Pam Grier is cold as ice as Foxy Brown.

 

Top 5 of the Month (in no particular order)

Theeb

Free Fire

Foxy Brown

Dragon

Eyes Without a Face

 

The Year So Far

Breakdown by Decade

2010’s- 61

2000’s- 7

1990’s- 10

1980’s- 5

1970’s- 17

1960’s- 7

1950’s- 4

1940’s- 3

1930’s- 3

1920’s- 3

Days to film ratio

120 days gone, 120 films watched. Glad to be back on track, but come June I’m going to be working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, so going to have to get even further ahead before then.

Total minutes of film watching

12,323 minutes of strenuous, silver-screen surveying. 205 hours of frantic, film feasting. Over eight and a half days of move watching mania.

Films by the Nations

USA- 64

UK- 27

France- 12

Germany- 8

Japan- 6

Spain- 3

Belgium- 3

Ireland- 2

Mexico- 2

Canada- 2

New Zealand- 2

China- 2

Hong Kong- 2

Luxemburg- 2

South Korea- 1

Greece- 1

Brazil- 1

Netherlands- 1

Austria- 1

Switzerland- 1

Romania- 1

Argentina- 1

Chile- 1

Soviet Union- 1

Cambodia- 1

Hungary- 1

Sweden- 1

Norway- 1

Denmark- 1

Tunisia- 1

Australia- 1

Jordan- 1

UAE- 1

Qatar- 1

Italy- 1

Taiwan- 1

Senegal- 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)

Luis Bunuel- 2 (Los Olvidados, L’Age d’Or)

Powell & Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes)

Mike Mills (Beginners, 20th Century Women)

 

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)****
  57. The Club**** (dir. Pablo Larrain, 2015)
  58. Los Olvidados**** (dir. Luis Bunuel, 1950)
  59. El Topo **** (dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970)
  60. Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017)
  61. Wrinkles (dir. Ignacio Ferreras, 2011)
  62. Logan (dir. James Mangold, 2017)
  63. The Taking of Pelham 123 (dir. Joseph Sargent, 1974)
  64. Laura (dir. Otto Preminger, 1944)
  65. L’Age d’Or (dir. Luis Bunuel, 1930)
  66. Battleship Potemkin (dir. Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1925)
  67. Sausage Party (dir. Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon, 2016)
  68. Love and Death on Long Island (dir. Richard Kwietniowski, 1997)
  69. Moana ^(dir. Ron Clements, Chris Williams, Don Hall, John Musker, 2016)
  70. Sleepless in Seattle^ (dir. Nora Ephron, 1993)
  71. Paris is Burning^ (dir. Jennie Livingstone, 1990)
  72. Sixteen Candles^ (dir. John Hughes, 1984)
  73. National Treasure: Book of Secrets^ (dir. Jon Turteltaub, 2007)
  74. Like Crazy^ (dir. Drake Doremus, 2011)
  75. Kong: Skull Island (dir. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017)
  76. I am Not Your Negro (dir. Raoul Peck, 2016)
  77. Beginners (dir. Mike Mills, 2010)
  78. Godzilla (dir. Ishiro Honda, 1954)
  79. Tabloid (dir. Errol Morris, 2010)
  80. A Matter of Life and Death (dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1946)
  81. Pink Narcissus (dir. James Bidgood, 1971)
  82. The Devil Rides Out (dir. Terence Fisher, 1968)
  83. Somm (dir. Jason Wise, 2012)
  84. I Live in Fear (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1955)
  85. White God (dir. Kornel, Mundruczo, 2014)
  86. Super Fly (dir. Gordon Parks Jnr., 1972)
  87. Foxy Brown (dir. Jack Hill, 1974)
  88. Black Belt Jones (dir. Robert Clouse, 1974)
  89. Blacula (dir. William Crain, 1972)
  90. Three the Hard Way (dir. Gordon Parks Jnr., 1974)
  91. The Mack (dir. Michael Campus, 1973)
  92. Whale Rider (dir. Niki Caro, 2002)
  93. Dragon (dir. Peter Ho-Sun Chan, 2011)
  94. The Love Witch (dir. Anna Biller, 2016)
  95. Distant Voices, Still Lives (dir. Terence Davis, 1988)
  96. Headhunters (dir. Morten Tyldum, 2011)
  97. Dead Ringers (dir. David Cronenberg, 1988)
  98. Love is Colder Than Death (dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969)
  99. The Red Shoes (dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
  100. La Promesse (dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 1996)
  101. Lion (dir. Garth Davis, 2016)
  102. To Kill a Mockingbird (dir. Robert Mulligan, 1962)
  103. Fences (dir. Denzel Washington, 2016)
  104. Theeb (dir. Naji Abu Nowar, 2014)
  105. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (dir. Lotte Reiniger & Carl Koch, 1926)
  106. Shaun the Sheep (dir. Mark Burton & Richard Starzak, 2015)
  107. Kirikou and the Sorceress (dir. Michel Ocelot & Raymond Burlet, 1998)
  108. Ghost in the Shell (dir. Mamoru Oshii, 1995)
  109. Corpse Bride (dir. Tim Burton, 2005)
  110. The Iron Giant (dir. Brad Bird, 1999)
  111. 20th Century Women (dir. Mike Mills, 2016)
  112. The Fate of the Furious (dir. F. Gary Gray, 2017)
  113. Free Fire (dir. Ben Wheatley, 2016)
  114. Eyes Without a Face (dir. Georges Franju, 1960)
  115. Room 237 (dir. Rodney Ascher, 2012)
  116. Mifune: the Last Samurai (dir. Steven Okazaki, 2015)
  117. Paterson (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  118. Stagecoach (dir. John Ford, 1939)
  119. The Assassin (dir. Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 2015)
  120. Black Girl (dir. Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

*=Horror Week

**Best Picture Oscar Winners Week

***John Hurt Week

****Latin American Cinema Week

^ Wifey’s Choice Week

Blaxploitation Week

Animation Week

 

Ten Best of the Year So Far…

Your Name

The Fits

Le Samourai

The Devils

Train to Busan

I Live in Fear

Los Olvidados

El Topo

In the Heat of the Night

Get Out

This month was always going to be more about quantity over quality, that’s not to say I didn’t see some excellent features, or that I saw many turkey’s, but it’s telling that none of the films watched this month cracked the top 10 of the year, despite this being the most productive month in terms of volume of films watched.

That’ll do it for this month, I need to go check to make sure my wife hasn’t left me yet…

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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