Friday, August 29, 2014

Monthly Round-up: August 2014 Viewing

This month I watched a total of 31 films, but it felt like a pretty relaxed effort. I rarely visited the cinemas (Lucy, 1987, the Opening Night Gala of Possible Worlds, and Guardians of the Galaxy were the only trips). I haven't been writing much of late. Work has been very busy, and I have been much more interested in reading. This month I finished off Dune, then read The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky (which was amazing) and Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto (the writer of True Detective) within a week, before starting the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It is incredible. There have been stretches where I couldn't put it down. 

On Sunday we fly to San Francisco, where we will be spending a few days, before making our way to Toronto for the entirety of the Toronto International Film Festival. I posted my line-up this morning. Not only is this film geek heaven, the chance to be a part of the city vibe during one of the world's top film festivals, but a much needed break. Follow me on Twitter (@buckle22) for all of my coverage.

New-to-Me Viewing (In Order of Preference)

Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg, 2004) - I have only seen a few episodes of the much-loved show, but I was satisfied with this to be honest. Loved the casting (Hedlund, Luke etc.) - even though I have heard that Billy Bob is no Kyle Chandler in this role. I find stories about the commitment to an unorthodox philosophy - 'be perfect' - very interesting. Especially underdog sport stories. This was inspiring. Maybe a tad overuse of the montage, but Berg (in his best work as director by far) managed to build character and establish the enveloping community pressure - never-were's with unreasonable expectations for these teenagers, who ultimately have one chance at 'glory' themselves. Winning isn't the only road there.

Sleepless Night (Frederic Jardin, 2011) - Relentless action, hectic and well-staged. Terrific use of the lone (mostly) location and establishes an emotional connection with our hero, played by an actor who should be in more things.

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets (Florian Habicht, 2014) - This is hardcore. Celebration of the band's relationship with Sheffield (and vice versa) as they seek a perfect finale to their decade-spanning musical dream. So watchable.

Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989) - Got teary at the end. What a lovely film. Costner is so endearing; his passion, enthusiasm and unwavering hope is infectious. Also wonderful is Burt Lancaster.

Lucy (Luc Besson, 2014) *TWICE*

Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper, 2014) - Cooper's tough, authentic and well acted (by Bale, Affleck and Harrelson in particular, but when aren't they?) thriller about two brothers forced, by necessity, down paths of uncertain return really shook me up. The first half was great, the second just okay, but certainly worthwhile viewing. The challenges faced by the characters was thrilling, and this effortlessly transported me to the economically-depressed Rust Belt.

Inside Man (Spike Lee, 2006) - Smartly made, unpredictable, genre-twisting heist thriller with Spike Lee's usual class/race tensions and flab. One of Denzel's best performances...recently.
Kidon (Emmanuel Naccache, 2013) - A breezy, twisty and consistently amusing caper comedy with a top cast. Preposterous, and the political influences and satire went over my head a little, but fun. 

The Grand Seduction (Don McKellar, 2014) - Picturesque harbour town-set, WAKING NED DEVINE-esque comedy. Pleasant and amusing, with likable performances from Brendan Gleeson and Taylor Kitsch. Screened at Possible Worlds to complement home entertainment release.

1987 (Ricardo Trogi, 2014) - Energetic, auto-bio nostalgia-fest full of typical adolescent goofiness and naivety. Far too long and leans heavily on stylistic indulgence (some works, a lot doesn't) and groovy period soundtrack.

Overnight (Mark Brian Smith, 2003) - THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is an awful film, and having now seen Overnight I now know why. What an asshole this guy way. Not a great film, but fascinating stuff.

Self Made (Shira Geffen, 2014) - Opening Night of the Israeli Film Festival. Interesting study of Israeli and Palestinian identity with some humorous moments, but I watched on with halfhearted interest.

The Great Outdoors (Howard Deutch, 1988) - Not even the great John Candy can save this John Hughes-scribed family vacation comedy with a tiring stream of foiled fun and exaggerated sibling rivalry.

The Dune (Yossi Avaram, 2014) - Just plain dull to be honest. Never involving. It had the potential to be quite moving. Perhaps on another day. 

I also watched, but am unable to comment on or rate: Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, Land of the Bears, The Berlin File and The Terror, Live.

Re-watched (In Order of Preference)

Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998)

Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)

West of Memphis (Amy Berg, 2012)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (David Yates, 2010)

The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014)

Galaxy Quest (Dean Parisot, 1999)

Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (David Yates, 2011)

The Mighty Ducks (Stephen Herek, 1992)

Baby Mama (Michael McCullers, 2008)

Fracture (Gregory Hoblit, 2007)

Super (James Gunn, 2010)


  1. Field of Dreams really does get you at the end doesn't it? I use to play catch with my dad and he died a few years before the movie came out. It really hit home for me.

    Glad to hear you liked Lucy. I'll catch it when it comes to DVD, but I had been looking forward to it.

    I'm afraid I can't agree with you on The Boondock Saints, though. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

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