Friday, August 2, 2013

Movie Diary #13: July 2013

July went quickly. I've been working hard on pre-production of my debut feature film but still managed to watch 71 movies according to Letterboxd. That makes 539 YTD. 8 of those are rewatches bringing YTD total up to 67, I think my dream of limiting that number to 10% of my total is well and truly dead at this point.

I saw an incredible 23 new films in July, thanks in part to the Revelation Film Fest, this number accounts for over a third of the 2013 films seen this year. 67 is a good strong number and I think reaching 100 before January is well within my grasp. My end of year Top 15 has 11 strong candidates listed so far, despite my general disgust with the majority of new releases it's good to see that there's still some real quality finding its way on to screens.

In total I have 21 recommendations from the month, 6 that you should really stay clear of, believe me you're going to appreciate that with this bunch. 15 really great films that are close to being masterpieces and then 2 actual masterpieces, one an all time favourite and the other is possibly the best you'll see from the post-mumblecore scene.

For those of you interested in my film, it's called Good Times and it can be found at facebook and on twitter so far but there's some other social networking in the pipeline. I'd love it if you guys could like it and follow and stuff, any word of mouth on the project will be helpful.


The Croods (2013) Dir. Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
No. Just no. The trailer looked really stupid and I wasn't disappointed by the feature. It's oh so ugly to look at too.
Off World (2013) Dir. Emmett Callinan
A low budget sci-fi thriller that looks and feels exactly like a low budget sci-fi thriller, generic plot and dialogue, daytime soap level line readings and a really peculiar greyscale colorisation applied throughout. I wouldn't have been surprised if it was developed for syfy or whatever the channel is branding itself as these days.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) Dir. Jon Chu
Was this one of those movies where Bruce Willis gets paid by 50 Cent to show up for a bit to try to give a really awful film some credibility? I'd say that's possible. I expected it to be stupid and fun but this is stupid and dull which is the ultimate crime when you have a bunch of guys running around shooting stuff really. I'd watch The Rock in anything and so this was guaranteed to show up in my life sooner or later, I wish it had been much later, like when I'm over my whole "I'll watch The Rock in anything" phase.
Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013) Dir. Wayne Kramer
This movie was originally written for FRED DURST to wear a backwards baseball cap whilst directing it. Wayne Kramer didn't save it although I'm certain he's a better director than Mr Bizkit.
Oblivion (2013) Dir. Joseph Kosinski
Possibly the worst big budget science fiction movie I've seen since Surrogates. Oblivion is a dull, unimaginative, ugly, derivative, obvious, grey, overly long Tom Cruise vehicle. I hope that this is forgotten about very quickly and never mentioned again. I really wanted to say consigned to oblivion but the film was so bad it didn't deserve the pun.
Sudden Death (1995) Dir. Peter Hyams
Almost unwatchable for non martial arts fans I would say. The action is poor anyway but some of the choices Hyams makes for purposes of "tension" or "suspense" left me quite bemused. The major fault lies with the script however. Written by the guy who wrote Police Academy 3, 4 and 5 based on a story idea by somebody else?! How do you have the story idea for this? I must assume it was "lets regurgitate Die Hard without what made it special" brainstorming sessions that accounts for her moment of genius.

Really Very Good Actually

Revanche (2009) Dir. Götz Spielmann
I feel like this was a major influence on the development of the far inferior and much less subtle Place Beyond The Pines. Instead of being violent or flashy it is just a simple, slow, study of humanity.
28 Hotel Rooms (2012) Dir. Matt Ross
A love affair between two people who only meet in hotel rooms, told only when they are in those hotel rooms. It's certainly a gimmick but 28 Hotel Rooms is much more than that, it's an exploration of how we love, why we love, the restrictions we place on love, it's funny, sweet, poignant, thought provoking, it recalls all those failed love affairs in your past and reminds you of the good and the bad but mostly it reminds you of why you loved in the first place.
The Fifth Season (2013) Dir. Peter Brosens, Jessica Hope Woodworth
50 movies and six months in to 2013 and The Fifth Season has become the frontrunner for movie of the year. As Ronan Doyle said in his excellent review it really is The Wicker Man as made by Roy Andersson. It's beautiful to look at, mesmerising at times, paced to perfection and almost so subtle that you might miss the apocalyptic overtones that would mark it as another product of 2013's Year of The End. Should I trademark that?
Supporting Characters (2013) Dir.  Daniel Schechter
Supporting Characters is another in the seemingly endless stream of low budget character and dialogue driven New York feature films linked to the slackervetes group of filmmakers. It's a witty low-fi romantic comedy starring one of the unlikeliest romcom protagonists you're ever likely to meet, Alex Karpovsky. But it's not just another film for the canon, it's one of the better examples of post-mumblecore on a restricted budget.
Modern Love Is Automatic (2010) Dir. Zach Clark
A nurse moonlights as a dominatrix, her room mate is a naive and enthusiastic aspiring model who is repeatedly taken advantage of in her quest to be successful. These are not the elements you might ordinarily associate with comedy but Zach Clark seemingly looks at the world in a different way to other writers and with the help of great performances from Melodie Sisk and Maggie Ross offers the viewer an insight in to an alternative take on modern American life.

Zach Clark has made this film available to stream for free at Vimeo. I highly recommend you check it out.
White Reindeer (2013) Dir. Zach Clark
White Reindeer is somehow the 500th movie I've seen in the first six and a half months of 2013. I just felt that landmark should have been announced somewhere. I'm so grateful that it was a very good movie indeed, worthy of a milestone such as this one. Over indulgence is a Christmas tradition right?
Films like this once confirm that I do not have what it takes to review or talk about movies professionally, when I truly enjoy a film I suddenly find myself with nothing to say at all that can do my feelings justice but rest assured list lovers White Reindeer will certainly feature high in my end of year list
Blind Shaft (2003) Dir. Yang Li
Part noir, part bleak social realism, all brilliant. Fans of everything I love in cinema should be ready to be wowed by this product of Mainland China that shares as much with the great cinema of the Romanian New Wave as it does modern neo-noir such as Winter's Bone.
Only God Forgives (2013) Dir. Nicholas Winding Refn
His films may not have reached masterpiece levels just yet but Refn is consistently a top quality filmmaker that is a pleasure to watch even on his off days. I asked the question previously, where are all the Refn copycats? The answer is nowhere, what he does with the crime genre takes vision, skill and talent compared to those Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino wannabes churning out generic garbage. I can't wait to see what he does next.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) Dir. Shane Black
A first rewatch in 2 years and I'm pretty certain that Shane Black is some kind of insane genius, as that is what it would take to write and envision something as wonderfully playful as this without descending in to farce and still crafting a damned fine neo-noir thriller.
Outland (1981) Dir. Peter Hyams
It feels a little ordinary and conventional in 2013 but in a world where Alien was still new and fresh there should have been plenty of room for Sean Connery running around a space station with a shotgun taking down a drug smuggling ring with the help of a black man and an actual real female character that wasn't a plot device, a wife, or a love interest (played perfectly by Frances Sternhagen.)
No Distance Left To Run (2010) Dir. Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern
Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave were THE reason for my love of guitar based indie pop at a time when EVERYONE around me seemed to be in to some form of garage dance rave shit and to have this film as a document to refer back to that time in my life is wonderful, that' s actually an incredibly well made film that combines archive material, live footage and new interviews just elevates it to a whole new level. All of the new material is of such a high quality too.
Before Midnight (2013) Dir. Richard Linklater
I was incredibly sceptical about a third film in this series and yet incredibly excited at the same time. To witness Richard Linklater directing Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine is something akin to perfect cinema as defined by Andre Bazin, everything about their lives captured on screen feels so honest, a truth often attempted but rarely achieved in independent American film and I am more than ready to watch this series every 9 years for the rest of my life.
More Than Honey (2013) Dir. Markus Imhoof
Much more than stunning wildlife photography, this fascinating documentary could be enough to make you a militant vegan, a depressed anti-capitalist, a staunch opponent of America and a dedicated Western Australian based cinematographer.

Oh how beautiful my country looks on film, oh how disgusting the practices of money hungry migratory bee farmers, oh those poor little magnificent creatures, oh how dumb Markus Imhoof allows those Americans to look on film.
Sin City (2005) Dir. Robert Rodriguez
Quite unsurprisingly after 8 years the wow factor has worn away from this incredibly faithful adaptation but what remains is still one bad ass noir graphic novel complete with some of the best performances of the casts career. Frank Miller's attempt at The Spirit shows that it's not just his superb graphic novel that's responsible for the inherent quality in this production, underneath all that shiny CGI Robert Rodriguez is one hell of a director.
Brick (2005) Dir. Rian Johnson
Rian Johnson's huge leap of imagination is just as impressive today as it was 8 years ago. This high school noir homage sets the tone from the opening shots and doesn't let up until the dame swings from her pretty little neck.


The Limey (1999) Dir. Steven Soderbergh
Tell him I'm fucking coming!
Man I love this movie, one of the most important movies of my life, seeing this made me love Soderbergh, and you know how it goes from there. Between the Dobbs script and Soderbergh's direction a fantastically entertaining experiment in noir storytelling unfolds with a brilliant lead performance from Terence Stamp that breaks your heart by the time of denouement. Simply wonderful.
The Colour Wheel (2012) Dir. Alex Ross Perry
JR takes a road trip with her brother, they bicker and snipe like only siblings can. That's pretty much it. And it's a brilliant piece of American filmmaking. So incredibly and unexpectedly funny from start to finish, the double team of Altman and Perry have such incredible chemistry that they brought tears to my eyes with their mean spirited quips and barrage of inappropriateness. The grainy 16mm image and location shooting might lead you to think this is another offering from the Slackervetes school of naturalism but you'll either realise your error and go with the slightly surreal nature of the story quite quickly or hate this film completely for confusing your brain with its mixed messages.

So that's that, go right ahead and comment and tweet me and stuff, don't forget to show Good Times some love on the social networks. If you've got questions about the film or whatever I'm happy to answer them.