400 And Counting: Week Six (TV Is The Thing)

November 21, 2014

This was the week that I almost starting playing World of Warcraft again. It was a near miss. If the Blizzard call centre was open I would’ve reactivated my account and that would’ve been it. Instead I just spent a night watching WoW streams on Twitch.

This was the week where I caught up on TV. American Horror Story: Freakshow is out, and despite a rather weak first episode, the series has me hooked. The Newsroom’s final season is also under way and it gets better and better with every episode. Pair that with the weekly offerings of Whose Line is it Anyway and Billy on the Street and you can see where this is going.

I love watching movies but now that I have to watch movies every day, I’m finding it harder to motivate myself. This blog is being written all on a Wednesday, where previously I wrote each review after I see the films. Sure, writing a blog and watching movies isn’t really hard work, but I just can’t be fucked some nights.

I’m almost tempted to fire up my Xbox. Almost.

Let’s Be Cops (2014)
Director: Luke Greenfield
1:44:00 (Completed)

The first time I saw the trailer, I laughed and was hopeful. It can be hard to tell with comedy if it’s going to be a funny film or if it’s just a funny trailer and a not so good film. This falls somewhere in between.

Two losers find out that dressing like cops gives them the respect and purpose their lives have been missing. Naturally they get caught up with a mob boss, and there is a love interest and some jokes. After a while the premise gets tired and predictable. The laughter-to-boredom scale was about even, but it’s certainly not the worst way you could spend an hour and a half.

Four Lions (2010)
Director: Christopher Morris
1:38:24 (Completed)

I knew when I first saw this was on the SBS On Demand service that it would be the film of the week for whenever I watched it. When I first saw this I loved it.

It’s an incredible black comedy about five British Muslims who decide to become jihadists but things just don’t go right. It’s a very intelligent and thought provoking film about belief, glory, religion and people who’re basically idiots. The film explores why someone would consider becoming a Jihadist and what they means for them and their family.

Some of the humour and great moments weren’t as effective on the second viewing without the shock factor, but it still remains a great film. And it gets rather dark.

The Drop (2014)
Director: Michael R. Roskam
1:47:00 (Completed)

The Drop is a slow burner; it’s not quite a thriller, not quite a mob movie, it’s somewhere in between. ‘Character piece’ or study is an unexciting but accurate way of describing it.

In Brooklyn, the city’s dirty money is stored in bars overnight, as it can’t be kept in banks. Thus the term ‘drop bars.’ Our focus is on one particular drop bar, Cousin’s Marv’s. Marv, played by James Gandolfini in his final film, is the former owner of the bar. Eght and a half years ago he was pushed out by the Russian mob. He still runs the place with his nephew Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy). A robbery sets up a chain of events that digs up all the grit and darkness from Marv’s past.

This isn’t an action film by any stretch of the imagination but it remains tense as the drama unfolds. Four Lions is going to edge this out of the top spot, but I still highly recommend The Drop.

The Example
Director: Jennifer Perrott
0:11:45 (Completed)

The Example is a short film by comic book writer Tom Taylor. It started life as a play, then a comic book (drawn by the fantastic Colin Wilson) and now a short film. There are two strangers on a train station, empty except for a briefcase. The film explores the fear and the threat of ‘acts of terrorism,’ as well as racism and responsibility.

Personally, I’m more of a fan of the comic (having never seen the play), as some of the issues and fears seem a little dated – is the war on terror still going? But he film’s score was great at ramping up the tension.

The short film was entertaining, barring some of the dialogue at the start, but it can’t compare to Colin Wilson’s art.

(Note: Expires on 2nd December. As this is a short film, this will not count towards the 400 but the time will be added to the total time watched)

The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Director: Errol Morris
1:37:15 (Completed)

Regular readers of the blog (do I have regular readers!?) know that I’m a big fan of docos. This one has been sitting pretty high on my to watch list for a while, so I’m glad I finally pulled the trigger.

The Thin Blue Line investigates the murder of a police officer in Dallas, 1976. The film is made up of interviews with the cops investigating the murder, lawyers, the judge, key witnesses, suspects, and the man on death row convicted of the murder. It also uses reenactments, and and it is these reenactments that make this film interesting and different. The shooting itself is used extensively, and changes based on who is discussing the crime and their personal recollection of the act.

The film doesn’t use titles, so often it was a little bit hard to place people. And the first 15-20 minutes were a real slog; I struggled to stay interested and even took a break for a bit. However, once the film got going, the story and the ‘fight for justice’ was compelling.

I believe the filmmakers had strong opinions on who committed the crime but the film is still made in such a way that it’s up to the viewer to decide. It may take a while to get started but once it does, it’s one interesting ride.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
Director: Francis Lawrence
2:03:00 (Completed)

This is the third installment in The Hunger Games franchise; of course it’s broken into two parts, which is now the norm post Harry Potter. Yay for franchises!

This Hunger Games film doesn’t actually contain a hunger games. Mockingjay gets into the dystopian world of Panem and the civil war between District 13 and the Capitol. If that makes no sense, perhaps a viewing of the first two films is in order. Just like Harry Potter, part three is pretty dark and grim — lots of death and violence as Katniss battles her inner-demons to become the Mockingjay.

I enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would. They made the transition to a wider and political world well. The backstory of President Snow was incredibly interesting and I wouldn’t be surprised if a spin-off movie happens at some stage. It does feel like I’ve watched half a mini series and now have to wait a year the second half. I’m hoping it’s worth the wait.

Considering how the week started I’m pretty happy with five films and a bonus short film on top. I’m hopeful that five films becomes the baseline. There are a few films I’m keen to watch in the coming weeks, and boxing day is coming sooner than we all think. Big Hero 6, The Hobbit and St Vincent come to mind.

…I wonder what’s on TV.

Film of the week: Four Lions
Movies watched this week: 5
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 9:01:24
Total movies watched: 34/400
Total DNF: 1
Total time: 57:09:02

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