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First Half Of 2017 Film Round-Up

These past months, I’ve spent most of my screen time watching TV shows, or, rather, one TV show. I’m loving Parks & Recreation but there is a lot of it to get through. The natural casualty has been films – I have been reading a good amount; screen time is pretty low overall. I’m on series 6 now and whilst there are some other shows I’m planning to watch they’re a lot shorter and, I expect, not as addictive. I will, however, not be setting any film goals. I’m wondering if saying, at year’s end, that my next year’s film resolution is to ‘watch as many as I comfortably can’, as I have in regards to reading and books, would be best.

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Independence Day: Resurgence (USA, 2016) – Is it really 20 years since Will Smith fought aliens? This follow up is good if technically unnecessary. It’s the only film other than the Hunger Games trilogy/quartet in which I’ve seen Liam Hemsworth, so I might have been watching Gale go after extraterrestrials…

Mirror Mirror (USA, 2011) – The second of the two Snow White movies of 2011; I’d wanted to see both and now have. This one’s a lot lighter than Snow White And The Huntsman, and the first half stays fairly closely to the storyline. It does lose its way in the second half, gets a bit too silly, but the Bollywood-esque item number at the end is awesome.

Some Like It Hot (USA, 1959) – One of the two remaining ‘big’ Monroe movies I had yet to see (the other is The Prince And The Showgirl). It was a hit with my family many moons ago so I’d seen various bits and pieces over the years but far from the whole thing. One I enjoyed – not a favourite, but a fun couple of hours.

So, no goals.

Which films have you seen recently that you’d recommend?

 
Second Half Of 2016 Film Round-Up

I did quite well this half of the year. In August I thought, ‘ahh, now, I’m always forgetting to watch films from this point in the year onward’ and made a concerted effort. December rolled around and the fact it was the season, together with with the thought, ‘last month of the year!’, led to more films. Catch-up television is incredibly useful – I owe much of this list to iplayer – as are subscription programmes.

Here are the films I watched for the first time during the second half of 2016. My opinions here are a lot more subjective than my book reviews.

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The Bishop’s Wife (USA, 1947) – Feel good semi-comedy. We could do with Cary Grant in our films today.

The Black Cauldron (USA, 1985) – It’s easy to see why it’s a largely unknown Disney. The voice acting of the lead, the story line – the spark of an idea but not realised. We found out after watching that the film was hack-edited – one of the higher people in the company decided to do it himself, ruining it, and this caused a group of the animators to go and form Pixar.

Carol (USA, 2015) – A very good film. I liked the quietness that fit the situation.

Far From The Madding Crowd (UK, 2015) – Perfect, super, casting. But no development, progression, epic end section rendered average…

Holiday Affair (USA, 1949) – A film of the times (bit of a brash hero) but this turned out to be pretty charming and, in some ways, ahead of its time (very confusing, I know!)

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Into The Woods (USA/UK, 2014) – A few of the lyrics are good and on occasion it’s funny, but it’s mostly a non-event.

The Lady In The Van (UK, 2015) – You can’t really go wrong with Maggie Smith, nor Alan Bennett.

The Lego Movie (USA, 2014) – Fantastic; barmy and hilarious.

Snow White And The Huntsman (UK, 2012) – Pretty good, very much ‘based’ on the story rather than following it.

Miss Potter (UK, 2006) – Found the animation a bit silly but otherwise it’s a lovely film.

What films did you watch for the first time in 2016?

 
First Half Of 2016 Film Round-Up

Not much going on here. I started well; I saw a new film on New Year’s Day and visited the cinema a couple more times that month but my watching petered out as spring started. Family events ensured I watch a few more films than I might have otherwise and I tried another of those ‘watch one every evening’ goals I first attempted a few years ago; at the end of the day I don’t think I’ll ever get over the ironic feeling I have that a couple of hours spent on a film isn’t worth much even though I can spend several hours on an average book and deem it very worth it. I guess film bloggers feel this in reverse!

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Bridge of Spies (USA, 2015) – I didn’t catch as much of the humour as did those I saw it with but it wasn’t bad.

Cheerful Weather For The Wedding (UK, 2012) – Strictly okay. Sorely lacking in the humour that made the book so good and the poignant ending wasn’t well done.

Cinderella (UK, 2015) – Apart from the way the actors all seem cut out of another piece of film (I suspect too much green screen) this is an excellent production. Very, very funny, in an adult humour way, and in this case the sections that are overly romanticised and cute are clearly to placate the kids who want the princess fairytale. The step-family weren’t as awful as I’d been led to believe – they’re more bog-standard Cinderella – but the focus on that aspect of the story is given more time.

The Danish Girl (Multiple countries, 2015) – The actors were good and worked well together, the music was great, cinematography… I’m just a bit confused as to why they chose to adapt a fictionalisation rather than the true story.

Ella Enchanted (USA, 2004) – Very silly, perhaps too silly, but entertaining enough.

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Joy (USA, 2015) – A good story but film was the wrong medium for it. Wait for the book (not that it’s on its way).

Man Of The Year (USA, 2006) – Eternally relevant.

Philomena (UK, 2013)– Hard hitting and whilst not quite true to life, very good.

Spectre (UK, 2015) – Not bad at all. Liked the characterisation of the Bond Girl.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (USA, 2015) – As a Star Wars film? Not so much. As a film in itself? Awesome. I am loving Rey so far though I could do without Darth Vader’s Anger-Management-Course-Required grandson. Bit too samey.

Goal for the next six months? Honestly, I think saying I’d like to have watched two films is a good idea. I have read a fair number of books – they’re making up for the slack.

Which films have you seen recently and would you recommend them?

 
Second Half Of 2015 Film Round-Up

In any given year I seem to forget about the screen somewhere between June and July and that’s it until the next January. This time around I have Christmas to thank – we watched four films and as is often the case, there were some interesting ones on catch-up television.

Here are the films I watched for the first time during the second half of 2015.

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About Time (UK, 2013) – Funny, poignant, and, hey, it’s by Richard Curtis. You do need to suspend reality as the time travel has a lot of holes but the message rings true. And that title is pretty meta.

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The Book Thief (USA/Germany, 2013) – It’s not the same (it was never going to be, so much of the book’s success is in the writing itself) but it’s a great film nonetheless. Best viewed as it’s own creation.

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Jurassic World (USA, 2015) – You have to suspend reality for more than the obvious reason but this is a good film.

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Mockingjay Part I (USA, 2014) – Like the book, this film isn’t as good as the others in the series, but it’s a fair addition and I liked that they went against the books and kept Effie.

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Paddington (UK, 2014) – I had my doubts when we started, but this is a great film and, like Disney, there’s a lot of adult humour, too. I’d never liked Sally Hawkins before this film; everything I’ve seen her in she’s been upset or angry or wicked, but here, well, I really don’t know why more films don’t have her in happy roles; she’s a delight to watch.

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The Princess Bride (USA, 1987) – Finally saw this after hearing so many Americans talk about it. My expectations were a bit too high – take out those and I loved it. Yes, it’s dated, but if you’re expecting that it’s fine.

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Romeo & Juliet (UK/Italy, 2013) – This was rated negatively, mostly due to the butchered dialogue, but I quite liked it. They made a point of showing it’s set in Verona and we actually got to see Rosaline.

So not bad in the end, though it could’ve done with more diversity in all senses of the word.

What films have you enjoyed recently?

 
First Half Of 2015 Film Round-Up

It’s an interesting thing, I’ll watch many films early in the year – January, February – and then, ironically later, think I’ve lots of time to go. Of course in reality I do, but part of the point of these round ups is to get me watching more films and that’s not happening so much when I constantly think I’ve lots of time. For the most part I have enjoyed what I’ve seen. I’ve noted some Bollywood films from 2013 I want to watch (the year I stopped actively following the industry) and plan to get to more classics. I have never seen When Harry Met Sally, for example, which, from what I can ascertain, is quite strange.

Here are the films I have watched so far this year for which it was my first time watching them.

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Becoming Jane (UK, 2007) – About Jane Austen’s early years. Takes some liberties to tell a film-worthy tale, but overall good.

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Bee Movie (USA, 2007) – Excellent. Timely, relevant, very funny. The creators were quite obviously focused on adult enjoyment.

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Bright Days Ahead (Les Beaux Jours) (France, 2013) – I’d wanted to see this at the cinema so was happy to find it on BBC Four. Not as good as I’d expected, but a fair film nonetheless.

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Catching Fire (USA, 2013) – Best book; best film. The new cast members fit wonderfully.

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The Fault In Our Stars (USA, 2014) – There are differences to the book, obviously, but this is a solid effort and a good adaptation overall. It translates differently due to viewpoint, loses a bit of humour, but the emotion is there.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy (USA, 2014) – I can see it being a hit for big Marvel fans, but I prefer the ‘regular’ Marvel movies.

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The History Boys (UK, 2006) – I practically jumped in delight when I saw this on iplayer; I’d wanted to see it for a while after watching the French scene on Live at the National Theatre. The history and literature were of course right up my alley but I think what I loved most about this film was the way they didn’t just not try to hide the fact it was a play, they created a good balance between film and theatre. The acting was mostly theatrical and the ending perfectly staged.

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I Capture The Castle (UK, 2003) – Not as fun as the book, but not bad.

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If I Stay (USA, 2014) – Sickly sweet at times, though as it nears the end it is exceptional and the emotion works well. I noticed, as others have, that the direction could have been better – people swerve to avoid Mia which of course they shouldn’t be doing and are obviously doing so that they don’t hit the actress. Maybe it’s the musician in me, that I ‘get’ it, but I found it emotional, even though I knew the story.

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Krrish 3 (India, 2014) – Bollywood does Marvel. This isn’t a bad film but it could have done with a better director and not so much lifting from other films because albeit that Rakesh Roshan is good for the story it sometimes feels as though he’s too in awe of his son. I got the feeling they really wanted Shah Rukh Khan instead of Vivek Oberoi as Vivek plays his role as SRK would, and there is a bit too much violence, angst, and even for a Bollywood it goes on too long. I did love Kangna Ranaut, however. It’s the first film I’ve seen her in and I definitely want to see more.

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My Fake Fiancé (USA, 2010) – Fun, light escapism.

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Renoir (France, 2012) – It’s all right, it’s just not very interesting. A biography would be better. I also felt that, although they obviously wanted to cover the meeting between the couple and combine it with the artist’s work, the film years would’ve been a better choice.

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (UK, 2015) – Not as good as the first, partly because the first wrapped up so completely, but still fun and worth seeing. Use of Bollywood songs much appreciated.

So a basic plan in mind: classics, famous films I’ve missed, but otherwise I’m going to go with the flow.

What’s the best film you’ve seen recently?

 

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