Duke & The Movies’ Contest: My Results

A month ago Sam Fragoso, from Duke and The Movies, announced that he was holding a competition. The competition was to see who could see the most movies in the time between Nov 5 to Nov 30. Here I am to report my findings of 36 film over the span of 25 days (the regular What I’ve Been Watching will return next week).

A View to A Kill (1985): Is it wrong to think that the 80s finally caught up with Bond? The film manages to serve up a grand old plate full of camp with Christopher Walken playing Zorin the genetically (and using steroids no less) altered super brain that’s going to… wait for it… take over the world. The action is ludicrious and the characters are unbelievable, which means it’s a weekday for Bond. In a film that includes a firetruck making a jump across a raising bridge in San Francisco, Grace Jones basically raping Roger Moore (I refuse to see it any other way), and butler relationship that should never be it’s one of the most entertaining Bond films of the cannon. 7.0/10

V For Vendetta (2006): As action movies go I’ve realised that this one has aged poorly for me. I blame myself and myself alone for become more and more enthralled with more intelligent cinema, but I remember when I first saw this one and couldn’t wait to go and watch it again. I even remember hunting down the comic book afterwards and being so happy that I enjoyed it even more. However, today watching it the film merely garners a pass from me, partly for that time I remember being in love and partly for all the amazing Hugo Weaving alliteration. 5.5/10

The Living Daylights (1987): Ohh Bond. How does your face change so? One of the better Bond films if I may say so. I’m going to be saying this a lot here (if you take a peek down), so let’s get the generic plot out of the way… intro mission, proper mission, meets woman, teases bad guy, shoots hencman, win, gets girl, end. The film manages to do that and actually be an engaging Bond film like not many of the series are. Dalton is a great change, probably the first time that Bond tried to be more of an action hero and less espionage (as much as he was back in the Connery years). 6.5/10

Licence to Kill (1989): Revenge is all Bond wants here as he seeks to find the man who left Felix near death with almost no chance of surviving. Bond has his licence to kill revoked and is left out in the wind, but Q manages to show up regardless and help out a bit as more and more ridiculous crap happens. He drives a semi truck (with tanker attached) on one side of it’s wheels (I don’t know what the term for that is) and it’s insane. This is not a good movie, not a good Bond movie, and has one of the worst villains the franchise has offered us ever. 2.0/10

Goldeneye (1995): And we have the introduction of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond with one of the most beloved films of the franchise from the last two decades. While it definitely didn’t stop the gadget train rolling it definitely introduced a much more engaging hero/villain dynamic with the betrayal of Sean Bean‘s character. I remember it being a lot more grounded than this but I still love that opening sequence with Brosnan and Bean fighting side by side. 7.5/10

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Bond goes to Shanghai and gets some kung fu kicks to the head as a news mogul is printing the news before it happens just because he’s instigating it. In my mind one of the worst Bond films in recent history due to how uninteresting the villain is, but revisiting the film managed to pull most of it off without too much worry. I particularly enjoyed Michelle Yeoh as his sidekick this time around. 6.5/10

The World is Not Enough (1999): What I love about the Bond franchise is that they know when they have a good side character to keep hold of them. With the return of Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky, now owner of a Casino, the fun keeps going. We’re getting hints of the downward spiral happening but somehow the film manages to distract enough for me not to care — or maybe I’m just in a Bond marathon glow that doesn’t allow me to see it all. 5.5/10

Die Another Day (2002): Ohh Bond… With the real Q gone (after the introduction of John Cleese in The World is not Enough) the series goes head of heels insane in what will be documented as the best contender (next to Moonraker) as the worst Bond film ever made. Why does an Ice Hotel have electric locks? How does Bond know where the handle on his invisible car is when it pulls up by remote? How does he know which direction it should drive when he turns on the remote if it’s invisble? Why is Halle Berry eating an apple mid-sex? Is Brosnan that bad a Bond in bed? 1.5/10

Casino Royale (2006): Saved. In walks Daniel Craig as a new Bond for a new era. With the new wave of gritty cinema (Batman Begins and The Bourne Identity) Bond finally gets close and personal with his action and his bravado. Between the parkour scene and ‘scratching my balls’ joke this film redefines Bond tropes and stops being called a good Bond movie to being called a good movie. 8.0/10

Quantum of Solace (2008): Forget what I said above, bad movie, bad movie… worse movie. This film single-handedly ruined Bond and we don’t know why. Here we continue to story from Casino Royale with Bond on the hunt for revenge looking to take down this big faceless organization — like Specter in the Connery films — however we never really get a feel of dread watching Bond go against this group of terrorists and the person who we eventually focus on is the biggest paper pusher of the group that it never gives us a big enough challenge, no matter how many explosions get wrapped around him. Throw in a lot of piss poor acting from Olga Kuylenko as the new Bond girl and you have a vapid action film with not much worth talking about. 4.0/10

Skyfall (2012): I promise, last word on Bond. And he’s made sexy again thanks to Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins. Go read my full review here9.0/10

The Invisible War (2012): A documentary which focuses on rape in the armed services in America and how the government deals with the act and punishment of the act. While the topic itself is one that doesn’t warrant any skirting around this film was probably the worst possible presentation of the topic at hand. We’re given numerous talking heads and it felt like an hour and half of repeating the same thing over and over as opposed to moving anywhere with the topic. It’s a serious topic with a bad movie. 4.0/10

Taxi Driver (1976): One of Martin Scorsese‘s greatest films. The way he uses Travis Bickle to play with reality and fantasy shows us how the vigilante side is alive in all of us and at the same time how psychotic it would be to act on them. It may not be my favourite Scorsese film, but it is definitely one of them to boot. 9.0/10

Bernie (2012): Here Richard Linklater teams up with Matthew McConaughey and Jack Black to present an interesting story about a murder in a small town and how it turned weird. With a series of great performances and a merging of documentary and scripted narrative the end product is nothing short of wonderous. 8.5/10

Goodfellas (1990): The story of Henry Hill and how he became a man of the mafia, or as he likes to put it… a Goodfella. Scorsese lends his lense to the world of the gangster and shows them as a family, a family of complete sympathy. From inception with Henry running errands to him getting knee deep in cocaine and eventually going into protective custody and being relocated we’re seduced and then enlightened just as Henry is throughout the film. 8.0/10

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I (2011): Talking about empty and vapid films here’s one that instead of trying to confuse the viewer with talking about a series of topics as Cosmopolis does, this film is all about the empty stares that we can muster between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. We’re almost done with having to talk about this franchise and I for one cannot wait for another decade to pass for someone to reboot it so the internet can have something as easy a target as this to collectively despise in such great ways. 2.5/10

Cosmopolis (2012): Dear God!!! David Cronenberg is a man who I’ve lost all semblance of understanding of as of now. He has been the face of the weird genre filmmakers for me for so long and I’ve loved him for that. I enjoy the yearly reminder of The Fly and Videodrome and even his later forays into some more dark grounded drama like A History of ViolenceEastern Promises and A Dangerous Method. This film however is a medley of uninteresting and unintelligible monologues where I fell Robert Pattinson and whoever happens to be in the room/car with him at the time never seem to know they’re actually talking to another person. The film makes little to no sense and anyone who was really paying attention after half an hour I applaud for having the resilience to do so. 0.0/10

The Intouchables (2012): This is one of the most heartfelt loving comedies I’ve seen in a while. I almost want to compare it to The Sessions (which I saw at TIFF) as it deals with people being employed to help a disabled man function better but the nature of the relationship between patient and carer is so much more than any dollar value. This is the embodiment of true empathy as the patient is able to get what they want the most, which is to be treated as a person first and a patient last. Also Omar Sy is a fantasticly charismatic actor who could make reading  Dostoevsky  interesting, because after two paragraphs he would throw it out the window and start dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire. 9.0/10

Apt. (2006): Korean horror!!!! Remember when I said that horror movies were bad? Well that rule applies to Korea (the home of awesome action/revenge films) too. I stopped caring when blood went up. I know it’s symbolic but honestly let’s not talk about this one. 5.0/10

The Man With the Iron Fists (2012): A nonsensical love letter to kung fu films made by amateur filmmaker RZA. I’m not a big fan of the result but I can see that it isn’t without some discussion required. Go read my full review2.0/10

On the Road (2012): Another film which takes a writer on the road to have random adventures and meet all sorts of  interesting characters. My problem with the film however is that none of these meetings ever feel important or have any weight to them. They all feel like complete fodder to fill the two hours of this empty movie. 1.0/10

The Campaign (2012): Will Ferrel continues his farcical humour taking on politics — since it was an election year in the US — alongside Zach Galifianakis in a comedy that doesn’t really pack that many laughs. I enjoyed a lot Dylan McDermott as the campaign manager paid by the big politic money for whoever he’s told to work for and the level of indignation that he has in every moment he plays alongside Galifianakis is great, otherwise not much to speak of. 4.0/10

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012): “He throws a horse!!!” – as my compatriot Ryan McNeil tells me on twitter. I knew I was in for a worthless action film but I didn’t expect the action to be this uninteresting. Other than a pretty cool axe wielding scene in the exact middle of the film (when we Lincoln first meets the main bad guy) everything else is pretty throw away and completely forgettable. I even wonder why they bothered casting Anthony Mackie in the role of the friend since he gets so little screentime and even less lines. 2.0/10

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II (2012): With all the films I’ve already mentioned on this list it’s amazing that this is one I’m going to go ahead and put in the ‘win’ category. The reason why this film, unlike every other film in the franchise, works is that now that Bella is now a vampire and we’ve been fully immersed into the supernatural we’re able to completely indulge in the insane and just go with it. I’m not calling this film a masterpiece, Kristen Stewart still can’t act to save her life, but between some pretty hilarious moments as well as Michael Sheen chewing on scenery towards the end of the film it’s completely worth it if you’re already this deep into the franchise. 5.0/10

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012): While I was already warned going in that this film is barely, if worthy calling it, a comedy I still somehow kept expecting a joke to come around the corner and make me laugh. While it’s not devoid of humour the film really takes more of a romantic and dramatic turn as we follow these two wayward individuals on this little quest during the final days of the world and it works. 6.0/10

Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan’s New Hope (2012): A documentary about fandom in it’s highest regard. While I run a movie blog, read a lot of others, read comics and am basically the target audience of the event the film is covering I have little interest in seeking out this event. It’s the kind of thing that if it were a trip downtown where I was living I’d probably go check it out to see what the fuss is about but would never push myself to go out of my way to be there. That being said I feel this movie was a weak documentary. It follows a few people as we see them and how they experience the con (during the 2010 convention), but the film fails to answer many key questions as to what the con really represents for these people. The stakes are never really that high and I almost feel that if someone had dedicated a full film to any one of these people, or even the con itself as a historical view, we’d actually have an interesting story to be a part of. 3.5/10

Insomnia (2002): The most underrated film from Christopher Nolan and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because people were tired of Al Pacino and assumed that everything he did here was just more ‘Hooahh’, or maybe they weren’t ready for Hilary Swank being a great supporting character, I don’t know. What I do know is that this is a solid film that keeps you enthralled for so many reasons, and one of the biggest ones for me is Robin Williams. I’d love to make the joke about the old people chasing each other, but it would make people think I don’t like this movie. 8.5/10

The Prestige (2006): This is the movie that people who only watch the Batman films try to forget exists. Nolan‘s commentary on filmmaking through the analogy of magic is brilliant. Throw in some brilliant cinematography and a plot that I’ve yet to find someone who sees the twists before they happen and you have an instant classic. 9.0/10

Manhattan (1979): I’m a sucker for the narcissistic self deprecating humour of Woody Allen, so why wouldn’t I be a fan of one of his best films? Here he runs a muck around New York trying to figure out his life. In a romance with two different women and trying to figure out what to do. It’s a Woody Allen movie at it’s best because it never tries to bog you down with story as much as enjoying being in a room of people who’re willing to discuss existential cinema and novellas while figuring out whether the coffee in the shop is the good kind or not. 9.5/10

Shadows (1959): The film’s aim is lost almost immediately as we’re thrust into a world and family of music, Ben being a trumpeter (that we never see play), Hugh being a singer (that we see constantly undercut), and Lelia being the only one not seeking the life as a professional, and we’re scurrying about seeking meaning in the madness of this film. Read my full review here. 4.5/10

Hot Fuzz (2007): I remember a day existed where I wasn’t completely head over heels in love with this movie. I thought it was one of those spoof movies which was trying too hard and missed the point. However, I look back on that version of myself and laugh at how much that person missed the point. This movie is action film brilliance by a man who I imagine has watch all of the movies. 8.5/10

The Imposter (2012): One of the best documentaries of 2012 thus far. Telling the completely unbelievable story of how a man managed to talk his way into becoming an American citizen by pretending to be a child who went missing four years prior. The story is haunting in how it’s presented, with the use of a lot of recreated sequences where we see characters lip synching to talking head interviews and having them interwoven the film defines itself as more than just a regular documentary. 9.5/10

Killer Joe (2012): Matthew McConaughey gives a performance that I’m so happy to see as he’s been an actor stored in the ‘take of your shirt and be quiet’ category for too long unnecessarily. With a very intimate tale of a family’s betrayal with the bringing in of a hitman to kill their mother for the sake of money we see a transformation throughout the runtime that keeps you engaged and shocked from moment to moment to see how dark and how deep the hole we are going to go. 9.0/10

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): The film serves as an empowering metaphor to New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina with a very different societal structure than the one we exist in. It’s uncertain if this film is just a fever dream or an alternate reality but it’s execution of it’s themes are why I ended up not being a massive fan of it. As we see the Bathtub flooded out by the storm and Hushpuppy and Wink try and figure out this new environment they have to exist in we see a world of strength and basically ‘beasts’. However reality comes into the mix as we see people come into their lands from what we consider to be the ‘normal’ world and it makes for a very jarring experience. 6.5/10

Side by Side (2012): As a lover of film the movie serves as a discussion of the handover of technology, from film to digital, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing. While it’s great to see a lot of the filmmakers I love discuss their medium in this detail it never rises above biased opinion often enough to really convince me that either matter that much. The nostalgia of film being changed over in a projector to slapping a hard drive to play a five hour film in the highest quality. But then again, people still listen to music via vinyl. 6.0/10

Ruby Sparks (2012): A wonderful deconstruction of the manic pixie dream girl genre (if we can call it a genre) as well as the art of writing has never been done as wonderfully as this film presents. Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano give us one of the great adorable romantic films, like (500) Days of Summer, but takes it a step further to talk about how the power of writing and characters mean so much. Through the experiences of our protagonist, played by Dano, we see how women (since the film was written by Kazan) want to take back the insane genre of film and remind us that they’re not this wonderful concept who’s only purpose is to push the male lead into a new and great place. 9.0/10

What I’ve Been Watching: Nov 18 – Nov 24

With the end of the year less than five weeks away I’m hard at work trying to knock out all of those pesky titles I’ve avoided — good and bad — from the year so that I can make my best and worst of the year lists in time for you guys to enjoy. It’s not an easy task but someone’s got to do it, while I definitely am not the person who has to do it I will regardless.

So here’s this week’s viewings:

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)

A nonsensical love letter to kung fu films made by amateur filmmaker RZA. I’m not a big fan of the result but I can see that it isn’t without some discussion required. Go read my full review.

ON THE ROAD (2012)

Another film which takes a writer on the road to have random adventures and meet all sorts of  interesting characters. My problem with the film however is that none of these meetings ever feel important or have any weight to them. They all feel like complete fodder to fill the two hours of this empty movie.

THE CAMPAIGN (2012)

Will Ferrel continues his farcical humour taking on politics — since it was an election year in the US — alongside Zach Galifianakis in a comedy that doesn’t really pack that many laughs. I enjoyed a lot Dylan McDermott as the campaign manager paid by the big politic money for whoever he’s told to work for and the level of indignation that he has in every moment he plays alongside Galifianakis is great, otherwise not much to speak of.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012)

“He throws a horse!!!” – as my compatriot Ryan McNeil tells me on twitter. I knew I was in for a worthless action film but I didn’t expect the action to be this uninteresting. Other than a pretty cool axe wielding scene in the exact middle of the film (when we Lincoln first meets the main bad guy) everything else is pretty throw away and completely forgettable. I even wonder why they bothered casting Anthony Mackie in the role of the friend since he gets so little screentime and even less lines.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART II (2012)

With all the films I’ve already mentioned on this list it’s amazing that this is one I’m going to go ahead and put in the ‘win’ category. The reason why this film, unlike every other film in the franchise, works is that now that Bella is now a vampire and we’ve been fully immersed into the supernatural we’re able to completely indulge in the insane and just go with it. I’m not calling this film a masterpiece, Kristen Stewart still can’t act to save her life, but between some pretty hilarious moments as well as Michael Sheen chewing on scenery towards the end of the film it’s completely worth it if you’re already this deep into the franchise.

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (2012)

While I was already warned going in that this film is barely, if worthy calling it, a comedy I still somehow kept expecting a joke to come around the corner and make me laugh. While it’s not devoid of humour the film really takes more of a romantic and dramatic turn as we follow these two wayward individuals on this little quest during the final days of the world and it works.

COMIC-CON: EPISODE IV – A FAN’S HOPE (2012) 

A documentary about fandom in it’s highest regard. While I run a movie blog, read a lot of others, read comics and am basically the target audience of the event the film is covering I have little interest in seeking out this event. It’s the kind of thing that if it were a trip downtown where I was living I’d probably go check it out to see what the fuss is about but would never push myself to go out of my way to be there. That being said I feel this movie was a weak documentary. It follows a few people as we see them and how they experience the con (during the 2010 convention), but the film fails to answer many key questions as to what the con really represents for these people. The stakes are never really that high and I almost feel that if someone had dedicated a full film to any one of these people, or even the con itself as a historical view, we’d actually have an interesting story to be a part of.

My count has been updated to 218 First time watches (124 from 2012); 118 Rewatches; 336 Total Films

TUMP [EP#102 – Martha Marcy May Marlene]

TUMP is back and in full force. With our return to regular programming we bring you our thoughts on many things including, but not limited to, the directorial debut of Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene. Check out the notes below:

What We Watched

Damion (00:04:05): We Need to Talk About Kevin, Beautiful Boy, The Three Musketeers, The Immortals, The Exes, Are You There Chelsea, House of Lies, Inside Comedy, Inside Men
Douglas (00:20:45): Sherlock (Series 2), The IT Crowd, Archer, Fry & Laurie, Fortysomething, Devil May Cry, The Rum Diary, Black Lightening
Andrew (00:33:56): A Dangerous Method, A Cat in Paris, A Better Life, The Artist

Trailers (00:44:16): Sound of Noise, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Pusher (2012)

Review (01:01:41): Martha Marcy May Marlene

Thanks for listening and feel free to let us know what you think either through the comments below or email us here.  You can subscribe to the podcast via our RSSThe Podcast Alley or iTunes.  It would be awesome if you would rate/review us on iTunes (we’ll read your reviews on the show)

A Week of News: Feb 4th

I may not be a fan of writing about film news due to the rumour-like quality that a lot of the articles are. However, I do follow the news on a lot of film blogs and I do think that there’s something to keeping track of all of the “news” that’s mentioned throughout the week as it relates to the world of cinema.

So every Friday I’ll be posting a list of links of the week’s news around the internet. Highlighting my favourite stories of the week and those stories so ludicrous I jut can’t imagine them to be true.

MY FAVOURITE STORIES OF THE WEEK:

Tom Hooper says he won’t cut THE KING’S SPEECH to PG-13 rating

The King’s Speech is one of the many films of 2010 that if I had seen before I had written my Top Ten of the year would quite easily bebreaking into the Top 5. The film gained an R rating for one particular scene where Lionel makes Albert (aka. King George VI) to swear profusely. We’re then treated to a couple of minutes of many four letter words, and a few with some more characters. That scene is the one and only reason why the film didn’t get it’s PG-13 rating, and even though I’d be regurgitating a lot of other bloggers’ feelings about the MPAA by talking about how stupid that is I agree that the film should not be edited just for the sake of that one beautifully foul scene that honestly I don’t know who would watch it and be worried for their children’s innocence. The scene is contextualized in such a way that it never becomes dirty or foul.

Ricky Gervais may host the next GOLDEN GLOBES

Love him or hate him you have to admit that he knows how to bring the smart British humour in taking the mickey out of some of the most vein people in the world. In a society where image in 90% of your job it’s nice to have someone like Gervais who’s willing to just go no holds bar and just rip everyone a new one. Even though this year I didn’t love it that much in retrospect I blame the overall ceremony rather than Gervais who was definitely spot on.

Javier Bardem offered role in BOND 23

Javier Bardem is one of my favourite actors to reach the top of the star ranking in the last five years. He’s calm but scary and always charming. Thinking of him as the next villain in the next James Bond movie kind of excites me. It could definitely not work out, but on paper it seems cool enough.

THE REST:

PRODUCTION NEWS

CASTING NEWS

TV NEWS

OTHER NEWS

POSTERS

TRAILERS

What was your favourite story of the week?

A Week of News: Jan 28th

I may not be a fan of writing about film news due to the rumour-like quality that a lot of the articles are. However, I do follow the news on a lot of film blogs and I do think that there’s something to keeping track of all of the “news” that’s mentioned throughout the week as it relates to the world of cinema.

So every Friday I’ll be posting a list of links of the week’s news around the internet. This week may seem a bit lax, but I’m hoping that with coming weeks I’ll figure out a system to have a more authoritative list of news links for the week.

PRODUCTION NEWS

CASTING NEWS

TV NEWS

TRAILERS

BLURAY/DVD RELEASES