400 And Counting: Week 18 (You Want A Revolution)

February 26, 2015

I feel like I’m hitting my stride. It’s been a while since I’ve had a lowly four-movie week and I’m generally enjoying most of the films I’m watching. I still find that I’m watching less and less foreign movies since abandoning my computer (it just isn’t as cinematic) and, as a result, the SBS On Demand service. On the bright side, I am slowly working my way through my pile of Blu-Rays instead of increasing it.

On another note, I’ve been reading quite a bit recently. I just finished Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Nation by Blake J. Harris, which tells the tale of the battle between Sega and Nintendo during the 8- and 16-bit days. For anyone interested in that period, or video games in general, it’s a deeply engaging book and an easy read.

Enough about words, let’s move onto pictures!

Selma (2014)
Director: Ava DuVernay
2:08:00 (Completed)

Selma is the story of Martin Luther King Jr’s post-“I have a dream” march to secure equal voting rights. It’s a slow yet powerful drama about an important historical time.

I found this film moving, but to be honest, I had a terrible movie experience. A couple in front of me checked their phones every couple of minutes. Behind me, two old couples kept talking. There’s nothing like being frustrated to make a slow moving film feel glacial.

Despite a bad audience, the film is worth seeing, even if it’s not treading any new ground.

Loser (2000)
Director: Amy Heckerling
1:38:00 (Completed)

This is a relic of a forgotten age, where it wasn’t a superhero movie every two weeks, but a teen or college comedy coming out. This film is best known for the Wheatus song Teenage Dirtbag than anything else.

Jason Biggs (a.k.a. the American Pie pie-fucker) stars as Paul Tannek, the titular Loser, a small town kid that doesn’t fit into the busy city and college life. This isn’t helped by his three asshole college roommates who organise parties and then daterape coeds (by the way, this is written-off more as bad form than actual criminal behaviour). He falls for a girl, who is naturally dating the dickhead professor (Greg Kinnear, in fine form).

It’s all rather predictable but a nice flashback to the music I liked when I was 12.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Director: The Wachowskis (Andy and Lana)
2:07:00 (Completed)

This latest sci-fi epic by The Wachowskis, most famous for The Matrix, is a hodge podge of different ideas, themes and characters. The film is two hours long and feels like it had about ten different writers or, much more likely, was a three and a half hour film that had to be butchered to get released.

The central character is Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a house cleaner who turns out to be the queen of a space dynasty. This puts her in the middle of a space civil war and space stuff happens, often with little motivation, reason or backstory. She’s basically a space damsel in distress, often rescued by Channing Tatum’s ‘lone wolf space badass’ character.

There are some interesting ideas in this film, but as a whole it doesn’t really work.

Chef (2014)
Director: Jon Favreau
1:56:00 (Completed)

I rated Chef my 6th favourite film of 2014 and had this to say:
Chef was a joyful film about food, about self discovery, an underdog story, a film about fathers and a road trip film, all in one. The film was a fantastic comeback for Jon Favreau on the back of Cowboys and Aliens and Iron Man 2, two not very good films. I should also mention the food porn — the glorious, dirty, hot food porn. Just writing about it makes me want a Cuban sandwich.”

The film holds up well on second viewing. Like the film’s character going against the mainstream and getting a food truck, it felt like Jon Favreau was saying ‘fuck you’ to his critics after a few not so great hollywood blockbusters (looking at you Iron Man 2). I highly recommend Chef.

The Gambler (2014)
Director: Robert Wyatt
1:51:00 (Completed)

Marky Marky is a gambler. In fact he is The Gambler (like in the title!) He’s not very good at gambling…well he is, but he doesn’t know when to stop. The film opens with him owing a few gangsters big time and he has seven days to pay off his debts or else. Naturally, he ignores the easy and simple way of resolving this debt and takes the whole film to pull off a convoluted scheme.

It’s an entertaining but forgettable film.

Carnage (2011)
Director: Roman Polanski
1:20:00 (Completed)

This film is based off the play God of Carnage, which I was lucky enough to see a few years ago. I was interested to see how it would translate to film, considering the play was wall to wall dialogue. You can tell it’s based on a play, with the limited characters and the fact the whole film is set inside an apartment.

Two couples meet to discuss an incident involving a fight between their sons, and the afternoon quickly spirals out of control as tempers flare and lines are drawn. The dialogue is as razor sharp as I remember and just as funny. Polanski has put together a great cast, featuring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly.

This is a great film that you should definitely check out.

You’re Next (2011)
Director: Adam Wingard
1:35:00 (Completed)

Once again, I rewatched You’re Next. I talked about this film last week and it was my film of the year in 2013.

While I still enjoyed it and had fun, it was far too soon for a rewatch. I think when something is still fresh in your mind, experiencing it again too soon can lessen its impact. So, with that, it will be a few years before I watch and enjoy You’re Next.

So that’s your blooming lot for the week. I’ve been thinking about mixing up the movie selections. So from next week, we will have a ‘Don’s Wild Card’ movie; basically some ridiculous film recommended by our glorious editor…who is actually editing the rest of the piece while I write the conclusion — I’m pretty sure this is the sort of Big Brother thing that George Orwell was talking about. (Editor’s note: I believe you mean ‘glorious, wonderful, marvellous editor’, Liam…)

Until next week, friends!

Film of the week: Carnage (Chef was a very close second)
Movies watched this week: 7
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 12:35:00
Total movies watched: 92/400
Total DNF: 2
Total time: 193:19:32

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