OWF Film Diary: 14th - 28th April

Into May for my Film Diary, after what was a relatively slow April (and consciously slow, since May is invariably a particularly manic month, what with the Cannes film festival and all), and another three weeks of film watchy goodness coming directly to your eyes and minds from last month. See, you never thought you'd get time travel as well as films on this site did you?! Little bit of a recap for anyone not paying attention: so here€™s the skinny. Basically, this here is my attempt to chart a whole year€™s worth of film-watching €“ something I have wanted to do for some time now. The aim is to post pretty frequently, chronicling every film I watch this year €“ both offering reviews and setting myself the ultimate goal of watching (and writing about) as many films as humanly possible.Running Total: 119 Films Follow the jump to find out which are the most recent additions... Film #102 Scream 4 Director: Wes Craven Year: 2011 New decade, new rules? Sounded a promising prospect, did it not? Well, we'll never know if it would have worked, because Wes Craven the somehow pronounced "Master of Horror" went back on his word. Rather than offering a meta-film that heavily referenced the horror conventions of the last ten years (as he claimed he would), he instead offered in Scream 4 a tired retread with flashes of uninspiring newness that detracted from instead of enriching the foundations. The final product is like the original trilogy, only with the cleverness and occasional humour sucked out, and replaced with an unsuitable bawdy fascination and some deplorably unnecessary gore. And don't get me started on how badly the new film treats Neve Campbell's original heroine - this was supposed to be a continuation of her story, but her inclusion feels merely obligatory and she ends up a passenger. It's all ugly, all badly considered, and all utterly upsetting. Score: 1.5/5 Film #103 Batman Forever Director: Joel Schumacher Year: 1995 The beginning of the end for the pre-Nolan Batman run, which would ultimately sound its death-knell with messy follow-up Batman & Robin, but Batman Forever is nowhere near the unqualified disaster that followed. There is a lot to complain about, like the terrible CGI, and the deplorable way the film treats Gotham City (in Burton and Nolan's films as important a character as Batman himself), not the mention that fact that Tommy Lee Jones offers Two Face as The Joker in another costume. But there are also some very good points - Val Kilmer makes for a great Caped Crusader, the inclusion of Robin is a geek-baiting success and Jim Carrey walks away with most of the plaudits thanks to an irresistible performance as The Riddler. If only they could have left out the neon paint nonsense, and tightened the script up, and oh, maybe not got rid of Tim Burton after his first two, far superior Bat-flicks. Score: 3/5 Film #104 Norwegian Ninja Director: Thomas Cappelen Malling Year: 2010 A Fun, Absurdist Comedy Caper B-Movie. Read my full review here. Score: 2.5/5 Film #105 Tron Legacy Director: Joseph Kosinski Year: 2010 The Live-Action High-Definition Experience of the Year. Read my full review here. Score: 3.5/5 Film #106 Tron Director: Steven Lisberger Year: 1982 The Best This Cult Gem Has Ever Looked. Read my full review here. Score: 3/5 Film #107 The Doors Director: Oliver Stone Year: 1991 Read my full review here. Score: 3/5 Film #108 Cinderella: Royal Edition Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske Year: 1950 Oh, Shame On You Disney! Read my full review here. Score: 4/5 (for the film, and not the edition!) Film #109 Billy Elliot Director: Stephen Daldry Year: 2000 Daldry's touching drama is one of those films that instantly and effortlessly entertains, thanks to its universal message of triumph in the face of adversity, and the redemptive value of the arts, even in the most apparently uncultural social areas. It also has a brilliant soundtrack, and it is incredibly difficult not to want to dance along with Billy. Apart from when he does that ballet bit at the end: I'm not really cut out for that kind of movement. And nobody wants to see me in a tutu. Score: 4/5 Film #110 Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl Director: Gore Verbinski Year: 2003 The film that proved that it is possible to make big budget pirate adventure films after Cutthroat Island sank with a meagre effort. We all know why it was a success, blending a Spielberg-esque adventurous spirit with some exceptional characterisation, and ingenious casting decisions to produce a final product that is anchored on, but not solely dependant on an exceptional performance by Johnny Depp. It's a lot more fun than the sequels that followed, and I can only hope that On Stranger Tides follows this model, cuts out the complexity and captures the unbridled fun of the first and best in the franchise. Score: 4/5 Film #111 Arthur Director: Jason Winer Year: 2011 Much better than I ever suspected it might be, this remake - really a vehicle to take advantage of Russell Brand's own particular charisma and comic persona - is not the sacriligeous affair it should have been, and is certainly a lot better than the majority of critics are claiming. The comedy is effective, because Brand makes the loveable rogue played so well by Dudley Moore originally just as believable, without making him too much of an object of ridicule, and the script is generous enough and tender enough to be oddly affecting, even when you know what is coming. Brand isn't likely to get much more opportunity to play such an easy character, since both men's lives are like mirror images, but for this one brief moment, I am thankful that he has made his way into Hollywood for now. Score: 4/5 Film #112 Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist Director: Justin Lin Year: 2011 This where I'm supposed to say that The Fast & The Furious is one of my guilty pleasures, and I'm sure many have already said it before me. But there's no hint of guilt in my enjoyment of the franchise (aside from Tokyo Drift, which I could do without), thanks to its blend of adrenaline and motor oil, no-holds-barred machoistic action sequences and some seriously heavy metal car-porn. Fast Five, as I'd have preferred it to have remained (and not the silly protracted title it got in Europe), also deals in another strong card, adding Dwayne Johnson (everyone knows he's the Rock by now right?) to the cast in an inspired move. It's big, it's bold and it's inoffensive, and I love it for those very reasons - not every film needs to be Citizen Kane, not be perfect to be entertaining. Score: 3.5/5 Film #113 Burlesque Director: Steve Antin Year: 2010 Is BURLESQUE Beautiful In Every Single Way? Is It F**k! Read my full review here. Score: 1/5 Film #114 American Pie 2 Director: J.B. Rogers Year: 2001 Long before there were twenty-ish straight to DVD sequels, the American Pie franchise was the pinnacle of the teenage sex comedy, and spawned a thousand copy-cats (all of which starred Sean William Scott as a Stiffler type character), and it remained funny into and beyond the first sequel. There's a good reason the American Reunion project has been green-lit and it is the dynamic within the cast that sweetens even the crassest of the gross-out jokes. The premise is nothing more than a flimsy one to hold the jokes and the camaraderie together, but they work, so who am I to complain? Score: 3/5 Film #115 Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Director: Tim Burton Year: 2005 In many ways Roald Dahl's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory was made to be adapted by Tim Burton (in fact Dahl's rampant imagination has a lot in common with Burton's), especially the factory interior scenes, given Burton's dedication to presenting grotesque and wondrous dreamscapes. The problem was always going to be in how the new adaptation stood up against the 1971 original, and especially Depp's Willy Wonka against Gene Wilder's - but Burton was pretty clever in swerving some direct comparisons, offering his Charlie & The Chocolate Factory as a slightly different take on the same story (much like his Alice in Wonderland), and it is possible to enjoy part of the film without perpetually casting an eye at the original. Sadly, when it is compared more explicitly, the 2005 version falls down quite noticeably, and while it is valuable to see Burton and Depp's takes on the story and the character, it is very much a shallow enjoyment because it cannot make up for the fact that the 1971 version is the definitive adaptation. Score: 2.5/5 Film #116 Mary Poppins Director: Robert Stevenson Year: 1964 A veritable classic, and another film I seem to watch during at least one holiday season every year. Like many Disney classics, Mary Poppins has come to represent something more than just a traditional movie experience, and there are any number of iconic scenes and songs. As perfect a musical family film as it is humanly possible to find. Score: 4.5/5 Film #117 Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Director: Steven Spielberg Year: 2008 I had consciously chosen to resist this film ever since its release thanks to numerous recommendations to ignore it, but there comes a time in a man's life when he must tackle these troublesome titles for himself, no matter what his fellow critics think. And three years on, thanks to BBC3 and a bellyful of chocolate (it being Easter after all), I gave in protesting and settled down to watch Spielberg and Harrison's reunion with the fedora and bull whip. And you know what, I wasn't disgusted, I wasn't appalled, and I was left feeling entertained when the credits rolled. What I don't understand is the criticism levelled at Crystal Skulls that it is a ridiculous affair, and that the revelation at the end, and indeed the whole extra-terrestrial storyline is somehow too much of a suspension of belief: was I the only one watching the first film when ghosts came out of the Ark of the Covenant and melted some Nazi's faces? Okay, so there are moments that should have been left out, like the much maligned gophers, and it isn't as good as the original, but what is? Harrison Ford is still charismatic and convincing enough as the archeological adventurer, and the rest of the wider cast offer a similar dynamic to those of the original trilogy, including Shia Labeouf, who I think is cruelly criticised too often. Let's face it, it was always going to be a comparative disappointment, because after so long expectations dictated that Crystal Skull had to somehow better the original, but Spielberg does employ his full range of tricks to pull of an exciting caper, while everyone is clearly having a lot of fun. Score: 3.5/5 Film #118 Thor Director: Kenneth Branagh Year: 2011 I still maintain that Thor and The Green Hornet (see below) represent the two extremes of the way in which film-makers are now making superhero movies. Kenneth Branagh€˜s lovey-inspired Asgardian epic is reminiscent of an older mode of comic book film-making in which the exceptional is celebrated, and presented as delightfully exotic (see Superman 1 and Flash Gordon, which are both evident reference points for Thor), while The Green Hornet is content to follow the modern trend of reducing the superheroics of the hero and making him no more than an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. I have to say I prefer Thor's approach. I am a superhero movie and comic fan because the subjects are so at odds with the reality of human existence, they are exotic and different and their exploits are supposed to be a distraction. I want them to be Gods, and I want my belief to be forcefully suspended one way or another, so to have a traditional superhero movie that ignores the "superheroism as a metaphor for puberty" line is a refreshing and entertaining change. I do have to say I was shocked by how much I enjoyed Thor, especially given what I saw as the odd decision to hand the reins over to Kenneth Branagh but the Asgardian is the most theatrical, and dare I say it campest of the Avengers, so Branagh's background does make him a good fit. What he has managed to create should be applauded, particularly since the upcoming Avengers project had already prefigured how the film would need to pan out, and thus nullified the opportunity to add in some creatively placed shocks. Score: 4/5 Film #119 Raiders of the Lost Ark Director: Steven Spielberg Year: 1981 It wouldn't have been fair to watch The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and try and offer some kind of mini-review without refreshing myself on the original trilogy, and thanks to BBC2's Eastertime schedule, I got to watch the first in the franchise but a single day after the newest addition. And what a film it still is: it's just as over-the-top as the fourth film (and if you look very carefully, it's bloody littered with continuity errors), but as a no-excuses adventure epic it takes some beating, even now. Score: 4.5/5 Follow me on Twitter for more instant reactions to everything I watch, either on the official OWF feed @owfilm or my own @SiTheMovieGuy.Previous entriesFilm #1 Big & Film #2 Toy Story 3 Film #3 Around the World in Eighty Days & Film # 4 Enchanted Film #5 Iron Man, Film #6 The Incredible Hulk & Film # 7 The Incredibles Film #8 The Simpsons Movie Film #9 Tron Legacy Film #10 The King's Speech Films #11- 25 Films #26-35 Films 36-46 (11th- 23rd Feb) Films 47-58 (24th Feb- 9th March) Films 59-75 (10th - 23rd March) Films 76-101 (24th March - 13th April)
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