I made six visits to the cinema in May, double the amount of April but still relatively slim in comparison to last year. But, I have not been short of viewing options. Having gained media accreditation for the Sydney Film Festival I have been working through a bunch of screeners. Some amazing. Others average. Coverage will come during the festival so I can’t discuss any of these films here. I am seeing 30 films during the 12 days of the festival so June is going to be crazy. As has been a 2015 trend, and what I feel is a work requirement, I have been watching a lot of DTV films released on VOD platforms. There are some gems in there. It just takes a little bit of research, but a complete unknown could appear on your best of the year list.
Mad Men is over. Sam and I very much enjoyed finishing the show, after watching from Season 3 together. Very satisfying. Speaking of satisfying I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition on PS4. 85 hours committed and not a regret. I have started ‘My Career’ mode in NBA 2K15 – a whole new addiction. I have also been listening to a lot of music recently, and I discovered two of my favourite albums of the year this month – The Epic by Kamasi Washington and Frozen Niagara Falls by Purient. On the novel front, been reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Every bit as great as I was led to believe. You can never have too much Bourdain in your life.
I watched a total of 32 films in May. Read about a selection after the jump:
Mad Max: Fury Road – This is a phenomenal achievement from George Miller. Simply jaw-dropping world design and chase-action stunt choreography. With relentless insanity, to the smallest details, it is completely of its own. There were a few narrative lulls where I paused for breath, and could have lost engagement weren’t it for the wave of excitement that continued to linger, but the final 20 mins is fucking incredible. Theron outstanding from the cast. Also outstanding – the score, and the way that the pursuers’ drum/electric guitar battle-chorus fuses with it. (4.5/5)
Spy – Paul Feig’s best film. McCarthy’s too. Too long again, but the fun riffs on the genre morph into actual spy/action. These scenes are well done, but the laughs won for me. Perfect use of Law (getting to play the 007 that has eluded him all of his career) and Statham (who people forget is actually a really funny man). (3.5/5)
Far From the Madding Crowd – Looks lovely and I rather like the actors. You all know I am a big Carey Mulligan fan, and she plays a strong-willed, independent woman who didn’t come across as being a horrible person at the same time. Matthias Schoenaerts continues to be an ‘enormous’ screen presence. Vinterberg is a very good director, his decisions elevating what could have been a conventional period drama into something far more memorable than I expected. Beautifully shot in 35mm, I felt like I was transported to the period. (3.5/5)
Ex Machina – Reviewed (3.5/5)
Woman in Gold – Reviewed (3.5/5)
Tomorrowland – Reviewed (2.5/5)
New at Home
The Salvation – Reviewed (4/5)
Blackhat – As expected, pretty good. Felt so immersed in Mann’s living, breathing modern cyber world. Character-centric and looks amazing. (3.5/5)
Ask Me Anything – Even in today’s online over-sharing world, everybody has a secret, and this hits hard. Britt Robertson (the 2015 it-girl) is fantastic, as are Christian Slater and Martin Sheen in support. This is a bold, coming-of-age drama that hints at darkness beneath the surface while creating an energetic on-point study of youthful promiscuity and eccentricity. No one has seen it. Now out on VOD. (3.5/5)
The Homesman – Bleak, and requires patience, but beautifully shot/scored frontier western about the rarely-seen female experience. TLJ the stand out. Has one of the shots of the year. (3.5/5)
The Man Who Knew Too Little – Very funny 90’s comedy of errors riffs cleverly on spy thrillers. Murray, of course, adds a lot to the success. (3.5/5)
She’s Out of My League – More sweet than nasty. And relatively clean. Rare for gross-out rom-coms. I have said this before, but I think Jay Baruchel is a terrific comedic actor. Laughs consistent. (3.5/5)
My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn – A documentary made by the wife of Nicolas Winding Refn during the conception and production of ONLY GOD FORGIVES. Whether you love or hate that film it is really essential viewing – an insight into the psyche of an artist grappling with debilitating insecurities. Only 60 mins and pretty low-fi footage, so hard to give it much more than a: (3.5/5)
Infini – An Australian big budget sci-fi. Hey, I like the ambition, but the acting really wore me down. The obvious influences too. Alien-come-Sunshine-come-28 Days Later. (2/5)
American Heist – “I have a bad feeling about this” is actually a line given to Hayden Christensen in this movie, and this mirrored my own thoughts mere minutes in. Bad. (1.5/5)
Fifty Shades of Grey – A whiter shade of pale-grey. Man, this was so boring (and kinda entertaining, for all the wrong reasons). Johnson’s character at one point asks 13 straight questions in her dialogue. It is an atrocious screenplay. Some people actually conceded this wasn’t bad? It really is. Less Her? than Him? (1/5)
I also watched, but am currently not able to discuss: Spring, Nasty Baby, The Postman’s White Nights, Strangerland, The Russian Woodpecker, Slow West, Drunks Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, The Look of Silence, Vincent, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Red Rose, Sunrise and The Song of the Sea.
Foxcatcher – Holds up pretty well, but it was going to be hard to beat the TIFF premiere. (4.5/5)
Mission: Impossible III – The franchise’s runner-up (so far). For one it actually explains the secret behind those masks, and the Vatican infiltration is fun. (3.5/5)
Mission: Impossible II – With its dumb, boring story, multitude of masks and doves flying everywhere, it really is a terrible film. (1.5/5)
Mad Men Season 7 Episodes 7-14 – This month we bid farewell to one of TV’s great dramas. Well, one of my favourites anyway. A SOPRANOS-level quota of perfect episodes. Re-watched S7 E7, as perfect an episode as it gets, before diving into the final chapter. The last episode was satisfying, but the preceding two episodes were absolutely incredible! Going to a talk with creator Matthew Weiner this evening, in fact. (4/5)
The Layover Season 2 (Various) – I was a little disappointed by the Toronto episode – I recognised almost none of the places Anthony visited, but it goes to show that we barely scratched the surface of what the city can offer. On the flip side I now really want to visit the rest of the US. Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia to begin with.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 2 (Various) – The latter stages of the second season isn’t amongst the strongest in the show’s short history, but I still love it.
Two shows still pending from last month. I am terrible with TV – House of Cards S3 E1-8 & Daredevil S1 E1-2.