400 And Counting: Week 20 (Hi, My Name Is…)

April 6, 2015

It’s been another long week. Thankfully it wasn’t three actual weeks like last time, but a busy Easter has made it feel like it. I realise that this opening paragraph has been used mainly to complain about actually writing the blog, which is not only lazy, I’m sure, but also rather boring. I’ll try to limit my incessant ‘struggles’ to later paragraphs.

This is the week that I also got Netflix and discovered I could watch it on the TV through my Bluray player. So far I’ve only watched one movie, which I did really enjoy, but I’m mainly looking forward to binge watching TV shows. I’ve already watched the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tina Fey’s newest show starring Ellie Kemper (Erin from The Office). It’s great, funny and just joyful — you should watch it. Speaking of…

Cinderella (2015)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
1:45:00 (Completed)

This is a retelling of the classic fairytale. It’s not doing anything new or different, but it does a lot right; the world is beautiful and helps to ground the story.

Lily James was great as Cinderella, just sweet enough to be charming while being a step away from too much and annoying. Cate Blanchett was outstanding as the evil step mother; she felt like a real character, spiteful and cruel to Cinderella but still flawed and believable. The same cannot be said for the step daughters…but you can’t win them all. Richard Madden (Game of Thrones’ Robb Stark) played the Prince, he was fine, however the whole time I was waiting for a reenactment of the Red Wedding.

This retelling of Cinderella was utterly charming, a magical experience.

The Princess Bride (1987)
Director: Rob Reiner
1:38:00 (Completed)

The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favourite movies. It’s got everything: Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…I could go on.

This is truly one of the classic movies that I believe that everyone should watch. In saying that, I chose a bad night to watch it. I was pretty stuffed after work, so while I laughed and enjoyed the first three-quarters, I had zoned out towards the end.

Despite this, It still remains one of my favourites; of all the movies I’ve watched for this blog (now at 107), I think only Starship Troopers tops this.

42 (2013)
Director: Brian Helgeland
2:08:00 (Completed)

42 tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player back in the late 1940s. I don’t think it would surprise anyone to hear that he faced incredible hardship and racism. It’s a movie less about sport and more about race and is a pretty fine period drama film. Harrison Ford was good as the team’s manager, not something you normally say about Ford’s recent work. Alan Tudyk shows off his acting chops as the foul mouthed racist coach of an opposing team. You don’t need to like baseball to like this film, and as someone who has only watched one (1) game of baseball, I enjoyed this.

Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982)
Director: Alan Parker
1:35:00 (Completed)

This was to be the last film I’d ever watch at The Astor, but this was before the news of its purchase and continued existence. Still, it was a cool experience to see The Wall here.

I’m not a huge fan of Pink Floyd; I think that Dark Side of the Moon is hugely overrated, while Wish You Were Here continues to be underrated by everyone. Anyway, I hadn’t seen The Wall and apart from Another Brick in the Wall, didn’t know any of the songs. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting going in. I thought it was animated, and though it had animated sections it was mainly live action.

It had a story, but it felt more like a cross between a 90 minute music video and an acid freakout. It follows the story of a boy, with both mummy and daddy issues, who becomes a musician, becomes washed out and wasted, becomes a Nazi dictator and then goes insane. Yeah, it’s pretty weird — I really had no idea what was actually happening in the last 45 minutes.

But there were some really cool sections. There were some great ‘stand alone music video’ bits and great, powerful music cues; seeing it in 70mm in a cinema with pumping music certainly helped.

It was definitely an experience, however I don’t know if I’d ever really want to rewatch this.

Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Directed by: James Wan
2:17:00 (Complete)

I did not know this was directed by James Wan (the director of Saw and Insidious) until I saw his name in the opening credits. This got me excited; I was keen to see what he could do with a mainstream franchise film.

It kicked arse.

I’ve never been a huge Fast & Furious fan, despite watching most of them, but this was a great popcorn film. The camera work was really impressive and made the fights far more interesting than I thought they’d be. I’m trying to think how to explain some of the shots without being able to show you and I keep making motions with my hands…which does not help you at all. So despite my inability to articulate clearly, it looks great great.

For those petrol heads, the cars are still the main characters. For you action films, yes, at some stage in the franchise, they did evolve into super action hero agents. It has its share of cheesy moments (thank you Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), but it’s a fun movie, one I’d almost call the film of the week.

Prisoners (2013)
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
2:33:00 (Complete)

This was my first Netflix film. When this movie came out, barely anyone saw it, but those who did had nothing but praise for it. It’s been on my list for sometime and I’m glad I got around to finally seeing it.

It stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, and off the top of my head, I can’t remember a better performance from either of them. Keller Dover’s (Jackman) daughter goes missing and when the detective in charge of the investigation (Gyllenhaal) doesn’t find her straight away, he takes matters into his own hands.

This is a dark and twisting tale starring two great actors with plenty of tension and great moments. It gets a little full-on at times, but this is a great movie.

Once again, I’ve managed to pick a bunch of great movies to watch this week. It makes picking my favourite film of the week hard. Normally, The Princess Bride would win hands down, and I still highly recommend it (an aside: one of my new coworkers hates The Princess Bride; I’d be put on a watchlist for some of the thoughts that flew through my head upon hearing this), but this wasn’t the best viewing ever

I was extremely close to giving it to both Cinderella and Fast & Furious 7, both examples of great Hollywood blockbusters. However, those three don’t quite make the cut this week. So congratulations:

Film of the week: Prisoners
Movies watched this week: 6
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 11:56:00
Total movies watched: 111/400
Total DNF: 3
Total time: 228:20:32

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