Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Month in Review: January

January was a quiet month compared to the cinematic onslaught I embarked on throughout December. My year has kicked off with a more diverse than usual mix of films which I'm pleased with. Momentous cinematic occasions throughout the month included finally ticking 'Always' off my list of Spielberg films to see, revisiting the Lord of the Ring Trilogy and being introduced by girlfriend to my very first Hammer horror film which I found to be most impressive. Enjoy my thoughts on this first moth of what is shaping up to be another memorable year of watching movies. 

My Girl (1991) – 02/01/15 ★★★★
Childhood sentiments and anxieties are beautifully captured in this sweet, lightly comedic story of love and friendship. Performances from the two child actors are realistic which entice feelings of nostalgia within the viewer. The contrast between the young and older characters are utilised well in representing the beginning of a new and significant chapter in one's life.

Always (1989) – 05/01/15 ★★★1/2
This mostly overlooked feature from Spielberg embodies the magical quality and very essences of old Hollywood cinema. In what is and touching romantic adventure that allows the viewer to easily indulge in its simplistic fantasy like story which is in large part due to the film's often silly and melodramatic nature. The cast of lively characters are very likeable and entertaining to watch. 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) - 06/02/15 ★★★
A disappointing final instalment in an already drawn out trilogy which felt more like an extended piece of fan fiction rather than a faithful adaptation to Tolkien's novel. The excessive and over stylised action sequences leave hardly any room for meaningful exchange between the diverse and strong cast of characters. Overall a classic example of style over substance. 

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (2001) 07/01/15 ★★★★
An epic cinematic experience that allows the viewer to ride the wave of excitement and adventure through many highly imaginative lands, characters and mythical wonders. The range of diverse and engaging characters are well developed throughout their epic journey. Comprising of exhilarating and awe inspiring action sequences that not only hold up well but exceed a lot of what we're given today. This first instalment in Peter Jackson's trilogy is an outstanding achievement on all levels.   

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 09/01/15 ★★★★
An equally impressive follow up that introduces a new set of characters and delves deeper into the story while placing more of an emphasis on the themes of war and oppression. Battle scenes are presented on an enormous scope and scale which easily make for the most memorable sequences of the film. The level emotional expressed though the lead protagonists will not doubt leave an impact on the viewer.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 10/01/15 ★★★1/2
This more than satisfying collusion in a truly one of a kind cinematic adventure is frustrating drawn out long after the film's epic climax, which unfortunately somewhat taints the film's overall experience. That aside credit still must be given to Peter Jackson in what is a spectacular and emotionally charged end to his trilogy in which style and substance are in equal measure.

Bad News Bears (1976) – 18/01/15 ★★★1/2
A brash in your face comedy centred on the antics and shenanigans of an under-performing little league baseball team. In this age of political correctness, the film's relaxed attitude to language and behaviour brings a sense of realism and elevates the level of comedy. While Walter Matthau is the star it's the cast of child actors who are the comedic back to this sporting themed comedy which paved the way for titles such as The Mighty Ducks.

Martin (1976) – 19/01/15 ★★★1/2
A modernised vampire tale that departs from traditions, popular lore and genre cliché's in favour for a more realistic depiction. The use of clever symbolism and social behaviours convey and emphasise the heavy burden that is carried by the protagonist who desperately seeks normality in a judgemental and unwelcoming society. 

Salem’s Lot (1979) 20/01/15 ★★★
In what is a genuinely scary and atmospheric made for TV horror film, elements of the plot and certain characters are noticeably altered as a result of the adaptation from Stephen King's original novel. The film's visual style that borrows from the more traditional and classic titles of the genre adds a level of authenticity. Despite the alterations made for its transition to the medium of television it's a rich story impeded in mystery and intrigue that will no doubt satisfy fans of King's original work.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) – 23/01/15 ★★★
An entertainingly grim musical that combines elements of 60s B cinema with popular style music. Set pieces and special effects are very impressive, especially the puppetry for the films leafy antagonise which was ahead of its time. Although relatively fast paced in terms of plot some of the musicals number tend to slow it down due to their excessive length, but otherwise it's a fun little feature with many high energy and colourful characters.

Stephen King's IT (1990) – 25/01/15 ★★1/2
This disappointing made for TV adaptation barely scratches the surface and in no way reflects the graphic tone and nature of Stephen King's original novel. The obvious rushed production and underwhelming performances from both the child and adult cast greatly hinder the film. However Tim Curry as the main antagonist does manage to provide some genuine moments of horror. The upcoming remake, whether it be good or bad will no doubt be an improvement.

Horror of Dracula – 26/01/15 ★★★1/2
This visually haunting retelling of Dracula deviates from Bram Stokers original novel, offering a highly entertaining and more simplistic battle between good vs. evil. The amazingly details sets combined with great use of lighting creates a most eerie atmosphere, allowing viewers to be fully immersed in the story. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing both have great presence as the film's two leading characters.

Tusk (2014) – 27/01/15 1/2
An overly obnoxious and overall pointless display of depravity featuring lengthy scenes of the most nonsensical dialogue you could image. The opening minutes entice nothing but feelings of hate and annoyance towards the arrogant lead protagonist. A clear reflection of the film's directors whose portrayal of foreign stereotypes miss their comedic mark, further adding to inane quality of this unbelievably bad alleged horror comedy.

Clean and Sober (1988) 28/01/15 ★★★★ (Read my full review)
This intense and stunning portrayal of drug addiction makes great use of low light, bland colours and a mostly drab setting to convey a strong sense of realism. The psychology aspect is explored in detail through the behaviours and attitudes of numerous characters. Michael Keaton impresses in his first dramatic role which sadly is often overlooked by most fans. 

Pretty Baby (1978) – 29/02/15 ★★★1/2
Despite it's often whimsical and care free tone, lies a deeply sad and confronting story of a child's innocent that is exploited by those around her for personal pleasure and financial gain. The film's depiction of the seedy and morally corrupt underbelly of early 1910's society is presented in great detail through visually striking cinematography. Brooke Shields' extremely realistic performance is a huge credit to the film's overall success.

Average Rating: 3.39 out of 5

Top Five Picks

1. Bad News Bears (1976)
2. Pretty Baby (1978)
3. Always (1989)
4. Martin (1977)
5. Horror of Dracula (1958)

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