400 And Counting: Week Two (Drowning Slowly)

October 23, 2014

It’s the end of week two and I’ve already fallen behind. I went a whole two days without seeing a single movie. This is not good. Sure, I have excuses: Armageddon Expo was this weekend, and New Game Plus won’t film itself. The issue is that one movie a day won’t get me to 400 movies, so missing two days in a row is bad.

As my editor said today (Hi Don! (get back to work! -ed)), I’m meant to watch one-point-something New movies per day, so I had better pick up my Game!

Brick (2005)
Director: Rian Johnson
1:45:19 (Completed)

I’ve been meaning to see Rian Johnson’s first feature film for some time now. He wrote and directed The Brothers Bloom and Looper, two very good films that I highly recommend (I mean, before Looper, when was the last time Bruce Willis was actually good? Die Hard!?). He’s also writing and directing Star Wars VIII and IX.

Brick is film noir with a twist. You still have a private detective, a murder, a femme fatale, and a plot that keeps on twisting, but it’s all set in a high school. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is our PI character, trying to track down the murderer of his ex-girlfriend.

The film relies on a number of noir tropes, featuring mob bosses, thugs and sit downs, but Brick’s noir roots are especially apparent in the dialogue. These characters do not sound like teenagers in 2005. But there is enough for you to accept the world of the film.

If you can accept the setting and the tone, you’ll really enjoy the ride.

A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)
Director: Scott Frank
1:54:00 (Completed)

So I watched another film at the cinema. It had Liam Neeson — he was kind of a badass and not at all typecast.

This latest Liam Neeson film is more thriller than action. It tells the story of an ex-cop turned unlicensed private investigator as he looks into the kidnapping and murder of the wives of big time drug smugglers.

A Walk Among The Tombstones a decent thriller that kept me interested, despite itself. There was a black homeless kid sidekick who I thought was going to make that the cheesiest thing ever, but it works. There is also a complete lack of female characters…who aren’t victims, that is. The plot was interesting enough without being too dark; there was enough action to get it flowing and most of the acting was reasonable.

Indeed, reasonable is a good way to describe A Walk Among The Tombstones. It’s enjoyable but forgettable. You could do worse with two hours of your life.

The Illusionist (2010)
Director: Sylvain Chomet
1:16:32 (Completed)

The Illusionist is a mostly silent animated film based on a Jacques Tati script about an ageing stage magician looking for work. Tati wrote and directed a number of French comedies during the 1950s and 60s, including the incredible M. Hulot’s Holiday and Mon Oncle, two of the best slapstick comedies I’ve ever seen. This is different.

This is a much more personal tale about fathers and daughters. It’s about a changing world. Sylvain Chomet takes Tati’s melancholy tale and makes it his own. The lack of dialog does nothing to hinder the film’s emotional and quite beautiful moments. The animation looks great and the score goes hand in hand with the story to leave you feeling and thinking about the film long after the credits have rolled.

The Rage in Placid Lake (2003)
Directed by: Tony McNamara
1:26:22 (Completed)

Thirteen movies in and I decided that I would try my hand at an Australian film.

Rose Byrne co-stars in this 2003 film, just before she started on the path to Hollywood stardom; she’s since starred in Troy, Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later, Get Him to the Greek, Bridesmaids, X-Men: First Class and Bad Neighbours. To be honest, Byrne was the main reason I settled on this for my Monday night viewing. I’d give her pretty good odds to pick good films and just be good in them. The bet paid off.

The Rage in Placid Lake is about weirdo teenager Placid Lake (Ben Lee) who decides to ‘play the game’ after high school, to basically say fuck you to his schoolyard bullies and hippie parents, by start a career in insurance.

The trailer for this film is terrible. The blurb isn’t that much better. However the film itself is a fun little satirical comedy about growing up and finding out about yourself. Plus it has Rose Byrne! An enjoyable way to spend the night.

Scotland, PA (2001)
Director: Billy Morrissette
1:38:45 (Completed)

This is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, set in a 1970s burger joint.

I like both Shakespeare and reinvented tales, but I struggled with this. It’s just not very good. MacBeth features the three witches, murder most foul, a wicked wife and a descent into madness. If you want to be technical, I guess Scotland, PA ticked these boxes, but it did it in such an uninspiring and boring fashion. Just because you reference the original doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is good.

I IMDB each movie I watch, mainly to check who directed it, and I just found out that there is a Macbeth coming next year starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. It’s also being directed by Australian director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed film). That looks like it will be amazing; I’m excited to Cotillard play Lady Macbeth.

What I’m not excited about is Scotland, PA. Sure, it’s not horrible but you’re better off watching any of the above films.

It’s at this point I have to mention the ads. During each film, there is three minute-long ad breaks. It’s fine, a small price to pay for free movies. However, once in, say, every six films, a bunch of the ads will be exactly the same. I ran into this with Scotland, PA, with four ads in a row for the same online retailer. Yuck.


I’m disappointed in my count this week, and the goal is getting more and more distant. However, I have maintained my varied approach to picking films and watching films I wouldn’t normally watch. So that’s a Plus!

Film of the Week: The Illusionist
Movies Watched This Week: 5
Did Not Finish (DNF) This Week: 0
Time Spent This Week: 7:56:58
Total Movies Watched: 15/400
Total DNF: 1
Total Time: 24:21:05

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