400 And Counting: Week Five (Looking for Time)

November 14, 2014

After last’s week final paragraph about getting back into watching weird and wonderful films, I promptly spent the next two days not watching films. Good job, Liam.

Halloween (1978)
Director: John Carpenter
1:27:24 (Completed)

John Carpenter is considered one of the masters of horror and after watching Halloween, I can see why. Holy shit. I’ve actually managed to watch every single Halloween sequel without having seen the original and I can now tell you they pale in comparison. This is an amazing slasher film that freaked me the fuck out.

16 years after murdering his sister at age six, Michael Myers (no relation to the international man of mystery or the ogre) escapes an asylum and is back. Myers never talks, he never reasons or explains — he is just fucking scary.

This is a masterpiece. It’s incredibly well shot; subjective camera angles are used and they really help build tension. The ‘scare’ moments aren’t too obvious and hold up to recent horror films (The Strangers being a good example, even if that’s more style over substance). But far and away the scariest thing about the film is the score. If you wanted to know what it sounds like to be watched and that bad things are going to happen to you, just listen to this score.

Halloween is a classic movie, not just for horror fans. Also, why did it take me so long to actually watch this?

Interstellar (2014)
Director: Christopher Nolan
2:49:00 (Completed)

When I got out of the cinema, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this film.

Sure, it’s an epic film about the search for a suitable replacement for the dying Earth, but it’s also one filled with complex theories about space, black holes, even time and relativity. So all of that was in my head as I walked out. This science is an important part of the film, but in many ways it’s a distraction.

Which is almost the theme for Interstellar: For every amazing moment, breathtaking shot or special effect, there were throwaway lines and dialog that make less sense the more you think about them. Not in a ‘I’m not smart enough’ kind of way, but a ‘that does not make sense at all…’ kind of way. The science is complex and above me, so it takes a bit of time to sink in.

But I’m knitpicking. I think Nolan has done some pretty fine films in the past (Memento and The Prestige stand out) so expectations were high. Fact: Interstellar is an epic film. I’ve been told by a number of friends I’m an idiot for not seeing it in Imax (it’s meh… -ed.). It’s visually stunning and it held my attention for almost the entire film (at 169 minutes, it’s really long).

Matthew McConaughey has completed his transformation into a serious, respectable actor, while Anne Hathaway does good work; in fact the performances were great all round. There were some touching moments amongst the giant backdrop of space.

I think Interstellar is worthy of your time, even if it has its flaws.

What Richard Did (2012)
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
1:23:57 (Completed)

What Richard Did was a huge change of pace from Interstellar. This is a very small film about a popular kid in high school, a captain of the rugby team with a bright future ahead of him. One night at a party that all changes. If I tell you any more, I’d spoil the film.

This is an interesting look into the life of a well liked, privileged young man and how he reacts and copes with his own shortcomings and mistakes. In the first few minutes I was rolling my eyes at some of the dialog between the teens but as the film progressed I grew attached to these characters and their lives.

This is also worthy of your time.

World of Warcraft: Looking for Group (2014)
Directors: Kip & Kern Konwiser
1:01:45 (Completed)

I just kept waiting for the ‘Skip ad’ button to appear on YouTube, but it never popped up.

This is a one hour documentary about the creation and rise of World of Warcraft. It tells the story of Blizzard, the game, the people who made it and those that play it.

This is the second game documentary I’ve seen recently, the first being Free to Play, and it’s a trend I’d like to continue…sort of. I really enjoyed Free to Play; yes, it was trying to get people to play Dota 2, but we got to meet some interesting players, hear their stories as we worked towards the big tournament.

Looking for Group, however, feels much more like an ad or a developer diary than a straight doco. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it but the message of this film was, “Play Warlords of Draenor!” Without central characters to follow, this film was less engaging.

The story of World of Warcraft was far more interesting than I expected and there wasn’t too much over-the-top fan service, so all in all, it was a decent hour. I’m not, however, going to reinstall the game. I have enough trouble trying to watch movies without having to compete with a huge (but enjoyable) time sink like WoW.

This film made me want to go back to World of Warcraft, and at the same time never play it again.

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Director: Jim Jarmusch
1:32:17 (Completed)

Coffee and Cigarettes is a series of vignettes shot in black and white about people drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and talking. This film is basically a hipster’s wet dream: It’s directed by Jim Jarmusch, it’s in black and white, it features both Jack and Meg White and Nikola Tesla is quoted in at least two different segments.

This is the second time I’ve watched this and I honestly couldn’t tell you if I got through all of it last time. The segments feature actors playing ‘themselves’, people like Iggy Pop, Steve Coogan and Bill Murray.

There are 11 short films, three of which I enjoyed. Cate Blanchett was excellent in hers, Bill Murray was Bill Murray and Alfred Molina was a perfect match for Steve Coogan.

Like all collections of shorts, and to borrow a phrase from Jason, your mileage may vary.

The post PAX recovery is basically complete, and the blog schedule should be back on track, so more movies will be heading your way for the next…47 weeks. Oh god. Even going at the reduced rate of say 5 movies a week, I’m going to hit 250ish films — far short of the goal but still a heap of movies to watch and write about in one year. Looking back over the week’s films I realised how lazy I’ve been, I picked all English films. That’s hardly broadening my viewing experience. Bad Liam.

Film of the week: Halloween
Movies watched this week: 5
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 8:14:23
Total movies watched: 29/400
Total DNF: 1
Total time: 48:07:38

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