400 And Counting: Week Ten (And So This Is…)

December 29, 2014

It’s Christmas time! Well, the last week or so has been. It’s been a busy period, and I apologise for the delay in Week Ten of 400 and Counting. I’ve solved my issue with Flash player. It turns out that my computer (which is 6+ years old and wasn’t top of the line when I bought it) was having trouble with Firefox.

Why is this important? The SBS On Demand service needs an updated version of Flash to watch it. No matter how many times I downloaded the latest version of Flash or restarted firefox or my computer — nothing. The answer it turns out is to screw Firefox and install Chrome. Despite this, I’ve only watched one On Demand film this week; the rest have been Foxtel movies with the family or just late at night by myself.

Living the dream, Liam, living the dream.

The Proposition (2005)
Director: John Hillcoat
1:44:00 (Completed)

This is my favourite Australian film. It’s a western set in the wilds of the Australian outback, written by Nick Cave. The cast list is incredible: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Emily Watson, Danny Huston and David Wenham. Captain Stanley (Winstone) is a lawman trying to civilize the land, and to do that he needs to capture Arthur Burns (Huston), the head of the notorious Burns gang. To do so, he enlists the help of Charlie Burns (Pearce), who has nine days to find and kill Arthur, or his younger brother hangs.

This is a graphic and often brutal film. The violence is as raw and rough as the landscape. Everytime I see this film it grabs onto me and won’t let go. The Proposition is simply a masterpiece.

Are We Officially Dating (2014)
Director: Tom Gormican
1:34:00 (Completed)

This is one of Zac Efron’s attempts to move from Disney star to Serious Actor. It’s also a chick flick disguised as a rom com for guys.

It follows three guys on the prowl who vow to stay single — naturally, they all fall in love. The humour is more slanted at guys but its a rom com at heart. I laughed a bit but it’s a pretty average film. You pretty much know what’s going to happen. Whiplash’s Miles Teller is far less impressive without a drum kit, but still stands out as the best actor of the bunch.

This is the ‘turn your brain off’ kind of film, which turned out to be a theme this week.

R.I.P.D. (2013)
Director: Robert Schwentke
1:36:00 (Completed)

I’ll be honest: I mainly watched R.I.P.D. for Jeff Bridges. I missed this at the cinema and by accounts it was pretty terrible. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it is very forgettable. Well, it’s just not very good.

The R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department) is a police force made up of dead cops who police and capture lost souls up to no good. Ryan Reynolds does a reasonable job of playing Ryan Reynolds. Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker compete to see who is better at phoning it in. The story isn’t very interesting, the action was boring and the film was kind of pointless.

I’m not really interested in reading the original comic this is based off, but I’m almost tempted to look it up on Wikipedia to see how it compares. So I guess this film made me very mildly interested in the source material, if only to see if it’s just as bland…

Attack the Block (2011)
Director: Joe Cornish
1:28:00 (Completed)

This was a really enjoyable film. It’s plots an alien invasion film set against the backdrop of a London commission flat. A gang of youths led by their leader Moses (John Boyega) must defend the block from the invading aliens while trying to deal with the local drug lord. The teenagers grow to be relatable and more interesting than they first appeared.

Some of the action and chase scenes got quite tense. Overall, it was a great experience.

Drinking Buddies (2013)
Director: Joe Swanberg
1:30:00 (Completed)

This is a small film. That in no way is meant to diminish it; it’s just a rather self contained story about two people, their friendship and their relationships. It stars House’s Olivia Wilde and New Girl’s Jake Johnson, two best friends who work in a brewery and have a ‘will they won’t they’ thing going on. Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston round out the cast.

This is a likable film that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. A great character piece.

The Way Way Back (2013)
Directors: Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
1:43:00 (Completed)

This was number seven in my top ten films of 2013, and honestly the film held on the second viewing. So because my view hasn’t changed, and because it’s 1:51am as I write this, here is my reasoning for including it in my top ten.

“I’m a sucker for coming of age stories and this is a good one. It tells the story of 14 year-old Duncan, who goes on a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her arsehole boyfriend (Steve Carell, in excellent form). Duncan comes into his own when he starts to work at the local Water Wizz water park and is taken under the wing of slacker manager, Owen (Sam Rockwell). The film features a pretty by the numbers story, but it hits all the right beats and does it well so we can forgive the unoriginal story. The acting is also top notch and, all in all, is a really enjoyable film.”

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Director: Peter Jackson
2:24:00 (Completed)

The Hobbit should not have been three films, but one must look past that to see if The Battle of Five Armies is actually any good as a movie and as the final film of the Hobbit trilogy.

There are some great moments in this film; The Smaug scene is great, however it’s one scene at the start that goes for about ten minutes — that’s it. As the film drags on, it’s clear that great moments don’t make a great film. The actual battle(s) were rather boring, lots of CGI made it feel pretty heartless. What saved the film for me was Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Cate Blanchett. Watching Thorin’s (Armitage) descent into madness while Bilbo (Freeman) tries to reason with him was incredible, and Galadriel (Blanchett) kicked ass.

They could’ve told The Hobbit in two films; maybe they should have. So while this felt like a 7/10 film, it’s a far better prequel trilogy than Star Wars. Plus, I really want to see Lord of the Rings again.

Non-Stop (2014)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
1:46:00 (Completed)

It seems like that whenever I get home from work, I watch a movie I either missed or never bothered to see at the cinemas. This Liam Neeson action/thriller is one such example.

Neeson is an air marshall with a troubled past when, while on a flight to London, he finds himself in the middle of plane hijacking. He springs into action while the plot twists and turns.

This is the perfect example of a Tuesday night film. It’s decent enough to watch, you enjoy and then in six months you can’t really remember the movie.

So, despite it being Christmas, I didn’t get around to watching It’s a Wonderful Life as recommended by my editor (Editor’s note: See me after class). In my defence, The Proposition is set around Christmas time, so it’s sort of a Christmas film.

…Okay, it’s not at all a Christmas film.

It’s a Wonderful Life sounds like a good way to send off 2014 or welcome 2015 (depending on when I get around to watching it). As always, I should try to watch more varied and interesting films, as opposed to the same Hollywood films from the last year or two. We’ll see how I go next week.

Also, if you have a film on the SBS On Demand Service you want me to watch, chuck us a line on the New Game Plus Facebook page and I’ll do my best to watch and review it.

Film of the week: The Proposition
Movies watched this week: 8
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 13:45:00
Total movies watched: 57/400
Total DNF: 2
Total time: 100:49:32

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