100 movies: Argo

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

ArgoArgo (07/11/12)

A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.

I tip my hat off to you, Ben Affleck. I more than tip my hat off to you. Never have I been so happy to see an actor turn director and do it so damn well. Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now Argo. That is an impressive list. And they just get better and better.

Now, I didn’t really know about the story behind the film, Argo. Shame on me, I know. And watching a film about the events isn’t really filling in the gaps as I’m sure there was a level of artistic licence with the events that took place.

Okay, the film, what about Argo? Bloody amazing. It’s a pretty unbelievable story, but it’s made believable by all of the characters involved and the actors playing them. You really feel for them from the beginning with the rather terrifying scene of the beginning of the hostage situation.

What I thought Argo did beautifully was blend humour and the rather tense situation that’s going on around these people. The moments of comedy complimented the moments where I was gripping onto the armrests of my seat. Especially the last 45 minutes. Wow. It honestly felt like, to me, the situation could go either way. Tense stuff.

The cast make this film for me. Everyone from Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Tate Donovan, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. What a freaking cast list! They were all perfect in their roles, helping make the film feel realistic and down to Earth. Special kudos to Ben Affleck. Not only did he do a brilliant job directing, but he made for a great leading man. Sort of an understated performance. But solid.

Argo is an excellent thriller. One I am itching to see again.
Rating: 5/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

100 movies: Lawless

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

LawlessLawless (30/08/12)

Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.

Lawless was a film I was looking forward to. I was looking forward to Lawless being that end of summer hit. After all the blockbusters were over with, in would come this great little film with a fantastic cast that would just end the summer film season perfectly.

I didn’t quite get my wish. See, I think my expectations were too high. Aside from the Shia inclusion, I was blown away by the casting in this film. Not just Tom Hardy in a leading role, but Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce. That is a whole lot of good to fit into a film. And it turns out, there just wasn’t enough film to fit all those good people in it.

Lawless is based on the true story of the Bondurant boys – a family of bootleggers. Like the IMDB summary says, their way of life is threatened when Guy Pearce’s Rakes enters the game and his only goal is to get shot of al booze in the county. Simple story. Which is fine. But the story itself didn’t amount to much. Thing happened. But there was never a real climax. It felt like watching a very pedestrian story of a family of bootleggers. Well, ignoring all the bloody violence, of which there was a fair amount of.

Alongside that, the players in the film, while great, I left the cinema wondering why they were in it. Gary Oldman’s Floyd Banner was pretty much a cameo appearance. I wanted more Oldman – he was great in those short minutes we got him. Jessica Chastain’s Maggie was barely in it and her role just about amounted to a bit of eye candy. Why was she there? Tom Hardy was fantastic as one of the Bondurant boys. With a mere grunt he could convey so much! Also, I don’t think there has been such a manly man who can pull of cardigans as well as Tom Hardy did here. Jason Clarke was another stand-out for me. The ever loyal but oh so drunken Howard. The last thing I saw him in was The Chicago Code (which I do still miss). What about Shia LaBeouf? Well, I was pleasantly surprised by his performance here. BUT. I don’t think he has the chops for such a heavy leading role.

Lawless did have a great score and a beautiful selection of songs. It felt like it could be authentic. That you were watching this true story of the Bondurant boys. I just wish something happened towards the end.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

120+ Movies: Getting Back on Track

120+ Movies of 2011

The Hangover Part IIThe Hangover Part II (27/05/11)

Right after the bachelor party in Las Vegas, Phil, Stu, Alan, and Doug jet to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Stu’s plan for a subdued pre-wedding brunch, however, goes seriously awry.

Going into this film I knew what I was expecting – more of what was in the first film and then some. So this film ticked that box well enough. It pretty much stuck to the same formula as the first film. Well, I think it treated the first film as a template to the second. Things almost happened exactly the same way as they did in the first with different variables. Some ludeness was upped. The amount of stupidity from Alan was upped, which did grate on my slightly.

Though I laughed throughout most of the film. There was plenty of stupidity. It’s not as good as the first one, because the first one set all the rules and this second film has stuck to the rules like glue. I probably won’t be buying this when it gets released on blu-ray/DVD, but it was a fun ride. Marginally disappointed in that this could have been one hell of an even funnier film given the talent.
Rating: 3/5

How to Train Your DragonHow to Train Your Dragon (28/05/11)

A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.

Now this is a surprisingly good film! It’s a simple story. Young boy trying to find his place. Forms unlikely friendship. Everyone learns a vital lesson by the end of the film. But it’s so nicely told with some equally touching moments and brilliantly funny parts!

The bonding scene between Hiccup and Toothless got me to tears in record time, thanks to a really beautiful score by John Powell.

Think this is my favourite animated film from Dreamworks. It had some real heart to it, which I find other Dreamworks animated films just don’t have. I’m happy there’s a sequel, but I hope they get things right again and don’t mess with a great formula. Just maybe improve it slightly.
Rating: 4/5

ZodiacZodiac (28/05/11)

A San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer.

This is what I call a ‘heavy’ film. My brain hurt a lot after finishing with it. Not to mention left feeling a little bit unsatisfied. Well, that was my initial feeling after I’d finished watching the film. Looking back on it, how on earth could it have ended any other way.

Brilliant performances from all the cast in the film. The Zodiac killer himself terrified me. More-so due to the fact that he was/is real. Sends a shiver down my spine.

Loved the look of San Francisco and the colour tones in the film.A very beautiful looking film as well as packing a lot of substance.
Rating: 4/5

Up in the AirUp in the Air (30/05/11)

With a job that has him traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham leads an empty life out of a suitcase, until his company does the unexpected: ground him.

My god, it took me so long to finally watch this film! But I’ve seen it now, so stop looking at me that way.

Brilliant film. Great dialog. Amazing cast. The ending of the film did not go where I was expecting it to go. I was expecting a happy ending, which I guess it was in a way.

I adored the opening sequence of the film and all of the aerial shots in the film. They were beautiful! I want to make a snapshot of one of them and put it on my desktop.
5/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

120+ movies: Getting behind!

120+ Movies of 2011

I think I’m running a bit behind this year if I hope to get to over 120 films for the year! Need to pick up the pace.

A Beautiful MindA Beautiful Mind (01/05/11)

After a brilliant but asocial mathematician accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn to the nightmarish.

Beautiful film. Really great film. Great performances from everyone and I think Russell Crowe’s best since Gladiator. Jennifer Connelly completely tore me up as John Nash’s world started falling apart. I completely and utterly believed what John Nash was seeing and doing. I didn’t really think that he might be hallucinating. Well, until things started going really crazy.

Loved the James Horner score. Think it’s my favourite score of his since Titanic. It doesn’t sound like a lot of his other scores, most of the time! The biggest problem I have with Avatar and Troy’s scores.

Very touching film that had me in tears!
Rating: 4/5

ExtractExtract (05/05/11)

Joel, the owner of an Extract plant, tries to contend with myriad personal and professional problems, such as his potentially unfaithful wife and employees who want to take advantage of him.

Thanks to my new love of Arrested Development I have a bigger love for Jason Bateman. Seeing his name listed in the credits for this film made me think it’d be worth a watch. Him and Mike Judge of Office Space fame, which was one of my favourite films I’d seen last year.

Extract just bored and irritated me sadly. There were some funny moments. JK Simmons made me laugh as did Bateman. But overall it just felt like a painful film to watch with none of the fun or wackiness that Office Space had.
Rating: 2/5

HannaHanna (06/05/11)

A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

Loved this film. I really like my action-thriller type films. This one had the added benefit of Eric Bana. Even with a slightly unidentifiable accent he was very good in the film. However all the credit in this film goes to Saoirse Ronan. Fantastic young actress who can play a ruthless assassin as well as a very naive young girl who’s never been out in the world. Think the weakest character in the film was probably Cate Blanchett’s Marissa. She just felt a little one-sided to me.

At times the film felt a bit schizophrenic, but in a good way! Flipping from fast paced action thriller to an indie feeling film about a very innocent girl.

Loved the British family played by Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng. They weren’t caricatures, instead felt like real people. Funny people at that.

The score was awesome! I’m loving this trend of DJs scoring films. There was Daft Punk and Tron, Basement Jaxx and Attack the Block, and now we have The Chemical Brothers and Hanna. Loved some of the pieces they did during the action sequences.

I know there are talks of a sequel. I hope there isn’t one. Well, unless they can top this one!
Rating: 4/5

CatfishCatfish (07/05/11)

In late 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sensed a story unfolding as they began to film the life of Ariel’s brother.

A lot of hype surrounding this film and it’s hype I got caught up in. However, it still took me a long time to watch the film. I think the hype ruined it slightly.

I did enjoy the film but I think I was expecting a bit more of an ‘OMG’ twist towards the end. I kept hoping something else was going to happen. Though, after I’d watched the film and thought about the events a bit more, I did see the madness of it all properly.

Ariel really annoyed me throughout the film. I just got more and more annoyed with him. I can’t remember why, but I remember the annoyance!
Rating: 3/5

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesPirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (20/05/11)

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too.

I’m one of those weird people who enjoyed films 2 & 3 in the POTC series. Yes, they were long and convoluted. But they’re fun to watch and get lost in.

I did not get lost in On Stranger Tides. Johnny Depp is still fantastic as Captain Jack Sparrow and new additions Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane were great, but there were some other new additions who weren’t so great. The main plot line of the fountain of youth was a fun bit of adventure. The love story between Philip and Syrena felt a bit pointless and was just in there for extra padding. Neither character had much depth to them and I couldn’t get behind either of them.

There were some good set pieces, but none of them felt like they were as big in scope as any of the ones in the first three films.

I sadly did spend some extra money and see this film in 3D, due to lack of 2D screenings. There were some attempts at some things pointing out into the audience, but for the most part, like Thor, it just wasn’t necessary. Especially during the action and fight scenes where things are moving so quick it makes me feel slightly cross-eyed with 3D glasses on!

Wasn’t impressed with the scoring on this film either. I was looking forward to some good stuff from Hans Zimmer – I’ve loved his previous work with this franchise. But it just didn’t feel like this film had its own theme.

I hope there’s not a fifth film!
Rating: 2/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

120+ movies: The holiday films

120+ Movies of 2011

I am still here. Came back from holiday. Spent a ludicrous amount of time sorting through photos, which I’ve only just managed to almost finish.

On holiday I also managed to watch a few films. I can’t say they were all on my ‘to-watch’ list but killed some time.

The TownThe Town (20/01/11)

As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heist, as well as the FBI agent looking to bring him and his crew down.

Fantastic film. I really enjoy these kinds of films. Drama/thriller. A little bit gritty. Chuck in a bank heist, maybe more than one or some other criminal activity.

I thought everyone in the film was very good. I know Jeremy Renner’s one of the flavours of the moment after his turn in The Hurt Locker which I shamefully still haven’t seen. I thought Ben Affleck stood out a bit more. I know he hasn’t got that many fans, and I wouldn’t call myself a fan as such. Thought his performance was one of his best since Good Will Hunting. And I do like the films that he’s directed – Gone Baby Gone and this one.

I couldn’t see Jon Hamm as anyone but Don Draper. Even though the character clearly wasn’t, it was Don Draper the FBI man on the hunt for the thieves and waving his shotgun around.

Overall, brilliant film. Just wish I had seen it on a big screen. The poxy little screen on the aeroplane did the film no justice at all and I think I’ll go and search this film out on Blu-ray.
Rating: 4/5

Ninja AssassinNinja Assassin (24/01/11)

A young ninja turns his back on the orphanage that raised him, leading to a confrontation with a fellow ninja from the clan.

Not a film I would search out to go and see but it was on TV and I was awake. My reasoning behind watching this isn’t all that convincing, is it?

It was an okay film. Nothing all that impressive or completely original. It did entertain, there was some fairly impressive action and fight sequences. The plot was as bog standard as these kinds of films get.

It filled 90 minutes I had going spare.
Rating: 2/5

He's Just Not That Into YouHe’s Just Not That Into You (25/01/11)

The Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story arcs deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behaviour.

See reasons above for watching this film. I’ll be saying the same thing for another film in this update I think!

Your average romcom, with far too many actors thrown at it in some attempt to make it some money by attracting people to see it just because ‘so-and-so’ is in it. I think I might have smiled at a couple of moments in the film. Overall though I can’t really say that much about the film because it was less than average and very forgettable.
Rating: 1/5

Imagine ThatImagine That (27/01/11)

A financial executive who can’t stop his career downspiral is invited into his daughter’s imaginary world, where solutions to his problems await.

This is probably one of the ‘better’ Eddie Murphy movies I’ve seen where he’s not a talking donkey, a fat professor or some other character with a million layers of prosthetics on his body.

Typical family film where a career driven father takes care of his daughter and realises the true meaning of life. Or whatever you want to take away from the film. There were some truly embarrassing moments from Thomas Haden Church. I think I cringed every time he appeared on-screen.

What happened to the good, non-Eddie Murphy driven family films?
Rating: 1/5

Now the next couple of films weren’t seen while on holiday, but figured I’d save some space and add them in here.

Gentlemen BroncosGentlemen Broncos (04/02/11)

A teenager attends a fantasy writers’ convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.

Well this was just a weird film. I felt mildly embarrassed watching it because some bits were just so weird. Jemaine Clement was funny and amused me. Though he looked awfully like Benicio del Toro in it. There was a lot of facial hair going on.

The ‘sci-fi’ sequences were the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’m ever going to see anything like this film again. That’s a good thing.
Rating: 2/5

Hachi: A Dog's TaleHachi: A Dog’s Tale (06/02/11)

A drama based on the true story of a college professor’s bond with the abandoned dog he takes into his home.

Now I knew I was in for a tear-jerker before I even started watching this film, but I had no idea I’d be in tears throughout most of it. As a dog lover and part owner, this film broke me in the worst way possible.

It’s a really lovely film about love and loyalty that dogs to show for their owners and just how deep that bond can go. It really is very touching.

Whoever trained the dog/dogs in the film should be commended. From the puppies right up to the adult dog they used, they were the stars of this film. That’s why I’ve probably given this film one more point than it should really get. Getting dogs to do what you want them to do is hard!
Rating: 4/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far: