Aug 022015


Three of the seven films I caught at the cinema during July are among the very best films I have seen this year. It has been an excellent cinema-going month. It helps that I have seen less and been more selective about my film-going choices; but it’s also indicative of how strong the blockbuster season has been this year. Sure there’s been the usual duds and flops, but overall it has produced some really excellent films. The best film I saw in July wasn’t at the cinema however, it was one I missed and saw at home. My round-up is after the jump.

Screenings: refers to anything I have seen at the cinema/on the big screen.
New at home: encompasses new-to-me, first-time viewings on DVD/Blu-ray/VOD/Screeners
Rewatches: are [obviously] things I’ve seen before , which I’m viewing again at home
Best viewing: my favourite viewing in each of the categories listed above




Best viewing: Rams

Ruben Guthrie
Magic Mike XXL
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation


New at Home


Best viewing: Ex Machina 

Step Up
The Boy Next Door
The Guest
Baby Boom
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
The Kings of Summer
Save the Date
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf
Leon: The Professional




Best viewing: Father of the Bride

The World’s End
Nine Months


The best film I saw in July was Ex Machina. I missed this at the cinema and had been eagerly awaiting its home entertainment release. Damn, I’m annoyed I didn’t see this one on the big screen. What a film. I love how the film kept its cards to its chest and we slowly learnt what was going on along with Domhnall Gleeson’s character. Artificial intelligence is such an interesting topic, and the focused, contained narrative and scope of this film was a really fresh way of approaching it. The film also looks amazing and has three fantastic performances from Gleeson, Isaac, and Vikander. This is sure to rank highly among my favourite 2015 films come the end of the year.

I saw a lot of good films at home this month, and I briefly want to mention two of them – Leon and The Boy Next Door. Leon was fascinating. The relationship between Leon (Jean Reno) and the adorably young Mathilda (Natalie Portman) was so complex. She had never had a father figure that showed her any love or respect until she met Leon. She didn’t really know how to express her love or process her feelings, and thus paternal love and a more sexual love were indistinguishable to her. I was completely invested in their safety and utterly enthralled by this film. The Boy Next Door is schlocky thriller-drama, so-bad-its-good. It’s the perfect midnight popcorn flick and I absolutely loved how terrible it was. That’s all I really have to say on that.

Cinema wise, I had a great time with Rams, Magic Mike XXL, and Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationRams is a Scandinavian film and the winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Set in rural Iceland, it’s a truly unique narrative which plays out in an unfamiliar, but beautiful setting. I love the dead-pan nature of Scandinavian humour, and this film had it in spades. I can’t really describe why this film about rural Icelandic sheep farmers was so wonderful, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Magic Mike XXL is an inclusive, non judgmental, and body positive film for women. I am as surprised as you. Sure the men are very attractive, and the stripper’s last hurrah road trip was actually film about following your passion, but it’s the ladies that ruled this film. The women in this film are all shapes, sizes, and ethnicity, and the film never judges them on any of it – in fact it doesn’t even mention it. Women are allowed to have fun, let loose, and be themselves and it’s really quite wonderful. The female supporting characters are all interesting and actually have some depth. Andie MacDowell as a lush Southern Momma was hilarious and I could completely imagine being it that lounge. Jada Pinkett Smith oozed sexuality and strength. Her MCing was part-announcing, part-empowering women to love themselves and seek what they deserve. Preach lady, preach.

Rogue Nation is further proof that Tom Cruise is the action star of this generation, and those who won’t watch his films are completely missing out. This film was pure action fun. Sure it was ridiculously convoluted and a little too long, but these things can be forgiven. Pegg is hilarious, Cruise is charming, Baldwin is Jack Donaghy, and Rebecca Ferguson is the most interesting, complex, and bad-ass female spy I have seen in a franchise film. Wonderful.

Coming up in August? Well, I am a student again so the film viewing will take a dive. We are headed to Melbourne to see a bunch of films at MIFF, so that will be fun.


2015 viewing totals

Screenings: 70
New at Home: 66
Rewatches: 25

Total: 161




Gilmore Girls – Season 6 (episode 15 onwards) & Season 7
Parenthood – Season 1
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp – Season 1


I can’t believe my Gilmore Girls experience is over. It was one hell of a ride, which I wrote about in detail here. I moved from Gilmore Girls to a first-time watch of Parenthood. One season in and I’m not too sure on it yet. There are characters I like, but others that just annoy me. It’s a little too ‘upper class white problems’ at the moment.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp was consumed in one sitting on the day it was released. It is fun. It is all-out, adult, no holding back fun. Contains some of the dirtiest one-liners I have heard in TV and an absolutely. killer cast with spot-on comedic timing and snappy writing. There are so many wonderful cameos and small supporting roles,  they’re like these little gifts that litter the show. Try and watch it before you read about who they all are; part of the fun is the surprise. I don’t know if we need more of the show, but it was amazing.

  3 Responses to “Monthly Round-up: July 2015 [Sam]”

  1. Oh yeah EX MACHINA was great. Not only did it look good it also had great audio – I saw it at the Embassy in Wellington and the visuals and sound design and music were all gorgeous.

    I’m attending the NZ international film festival of course, and I have seen several excellent films. One I’d recommend if you haven’t seen it (as I know you have an interest in Japanese films) is OUR LITTLE SISTER. A really “sticks with you” kind of family drama.

    • Our Little Sister played at Sydney Film Fest, but I couldn’t fit it in. It’s good to hear you recommend it. What have you seen at NZFF that you really like thus far?

      • Everything I’ve seen so far has been good to some degree. The aforementioned films, of course. Ixcunal Volcano – Guatemala’s first feature film I think – deserves a watch and is surprisingly intense towards the end. Bit depressing though. Inherent Vice, although I had already seen that. But the stand out so far for me was A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

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