In all my years watching and writing about films I have never kept a list of films that I have viewed in a particular year so I haven’t been able to have an exact number of what I’ve viewed or break down my viewing habits. This year I am looking to rectify this by partaking in Film 2012 which is something a number of fine people that I am following on Twitter are involved in. It seems as though each person involved looks to have different objectives but the common theme is that you tweet a mini assessment on each film you view and it’s great to see what other people are watching.
In addition to this I will be keeping a spreadsheet and have set myself a goal of at least 365 films to watch between now and the end of the year, how easy that is with my personal commitments and baby daughter will be remains to be seen but on the evidence of the first week the target certainly isn’t out of my reach. I intend to provide a weekly recap of what I’ve viewed on this neglected blog.
Some weeks will be longer than others of course but I shall endeavour to provide updates on a regular basis. So here’s my recap of week 1:
Film 1 – Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
It’s important to get anything off to a good start so whilst considering my first film I knew I wanted a film of considerable quality and also wanted to make a dent on my Christmas Blu-Ray haul so I opted for George Miller’s follow up to his impressive debut.
When discussing the best sequels the likes of The Godfather Pt II and The Empire Strikes Back tend to be the oft cited examples however Mad Max 2 should certainly be mentioned; in many ways it is the perfect sequel in that it adds to the characters and themes explored in its predecessor whilst working perfectly as a standalone movie aimed to draw in a new audience, which of course was the objective of the film.
Even to this day the action scenes are hugely impressive and stand among the finest vehicle based scenes committed to film. The fact that they were done practically using a hugely dedicated stunt team adds to the levels of excitement and indeed tension experienced.
I won’t go too much further into the film as have a number of others to write about and want to keep the word count reasonable but Mad Max 2 is quite frankly a brilliant film and an absolute must watch.
Film 2 – In Bruges
I had been a fan of this for sometime so was pleased to find it under the tree on Christmas day; tonally it covers a lot of ground and this can be unsettling at times but its part of the charm and part of what makes it such an effective film to view. The chemistry between a never better Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson is fantastic and Ralph Fiennes relishes in playing against type but the real highpoint here is the script by Martin McDonagh that’s full of dark humour, drama, character development and has huge emotional impact.
Film 3 – The Fly
When talking about great unhinged performances in the history of cinema Jeff Goldblum here has to be right up there with the very best. It’s not just a one note performance as he evolves through various levels of mania throughout the film. Like with In Bruges this is an emotionally exhausting film particularly at the finale which if it doesn’t have some kind of impact on you there’s something very wrong with you. One of my favourite Cronenberg films and true classic of cinema.
Film 4 – The Tree of Life
As a fan of Terrence Malick I was eager to see this before the yearend lists were compiled but a combination of life and my local cinemas not showing it hampered any chance of that. After viewing it I appreciate that it’s a good film but I don’t feel that it stands alongside the director’s best work and it wouldn’t have made my top 10 or indeed top 20 of last year. It’s a good film sure but not one that I’m in a huge rush to watch again.
Film 5 – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
After my first viewing of this film I was hugely disappointed and had no real desire to revisit it but the fact that it was on telly prompted me to give it another watch and you know what; it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I remembered. Sure it has plenty of ridiculous moments as do all of the Indy movies but it’s also quite entertaining. George Lucas’ influence looms large over a script that is vastly inferior to a number of the alternative scripts for the film that are available online but presence of Harrison Ford and John Williams’ score do more than enough to make this worth a watch. Not a patch on the originals by any means, but also not the disaster I and many others had written it off as.
Film 6 – Kick-Ass
One of my favourites of 2010 but a film that I hadn’t revisited for quite some time prior to watching it again this week and I’m pleased to stay that it still does a great deal for me. Its two hour run-time flies by and there are elements that still shock even after numerous viewings. The film also features some of the finest set pieces in a film of its type for some time and when you add to that some great characters, great performances and of course Nic Cage you’re on to a winner. Just the type of film you need to pick you up in the middle of the week.
Film 7 – Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within
I’m a huge fan of the first and been eager to see this ever since I heard it was being made but again another one I didn’t get to see at the cinema. I spoke of perfect sequels earlier in this article and the things that made Mad Max 2 so great are present here. It’s another sequel that not only improves over a original in almost every way but it also works as a standalone as confirmed by Stuart Barr in a Twitter exchange I had with him earlier this year.
Director Jose Padilha explores the complex struggle with crime in the Rio slums by demonstrating just how deep the corruption runs and shows that when the drug lords are removed the corrupt cops will step in and be just as brutal. The fact that he covers so much in a relatively short time whilst making it incredibly exciting from start to finish is a hugely impressive achievement.
Anyone questioning whether the Robocop remake is worthwhile after seeing these films is a fucking idiot.
Film 8 – Cowboys and Aliens
A film I avoided deliberately after the promising trailer was followed by middling reviews. I won’t waste too much time on commenting on it as I spent far too long watching the bloody thing (135 minutes!) but needless to say I didn’t enjoy it a great deal; it’s well directed and has a great look and a rather fantastic cast but it can’t escape the fact that the story is weak at best and is far too long. The fact that it took five writers to come up with the story and not one of them thought to address the major issues is quite frankly astonishing. If you haven’t seen it; don’t bother.
Film 9 – The Wild Bunch
I thought it best to follow a crap western with one of the very best. It’s a genre that has been explored by a number of directors over the years but Peckinpah’s 1969 effort is hard to beat. The story is a simple one but we’re given characters to root for despite them not being overly sympathetic. They’re men of a dying breed who are struggling to hang on to a way of life they have relished in whilst the world around them is changing and as they search for their last score but end up in a cat and mouse game with the law as ultimately they can’t escape their past. It features three amazing set pieces spread evenly apart and in the rest of the film we get to spend time with the characters and it’s the attachment you build that makes the blood soaked finale so heartbreaking.
10 – Horrible Bosses
I heard bad things about this so wasn’t expecting a great deal but I actually rather enjoyed it. If you were put off seeing this by negative reviews or bad word of mouth I’d strongly recommend you see this and form your own opinion. Not the finest comedy of the year by any stretch but it contains enough funny moments and entertaining characters to make for an entertaining time. Attention has been brought to the fine cameos and those playing the horrible bosses but the chemistry between the three leads is solid.
So there’s my effort for week 1 which puts me ahead of schedule. Check back next week to see if I can keep this pace up.
Also if you’re on Twitter check #Film2012 for updates from me and another of other writers and film fans and you might as well follow me @GlenTChapman while you’re at it.
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