Sep 012015
 

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With regular life being busy – planning a move of house, and serious work commitments – my recent viewing habits (29 films in August) have been erratic and somewhat purposeless. We traveled to Melbourne for a long weekend for MIFF, which ended up being a great weekend for socialising, but a mixed bag in terms of films. I caught another six films in cinemas to keep in the know, and spent a considerable amount of time surfing Netflix, watching random films that took my fancy. Certainly the best time investment was Bloodline, which Sam and I consumed one episode at a time over a fortnight. Coming up in September – coverage of the Sydney Underground Film Festival and hopefully the Italian Film Festival. But, it is likely to be another quiet one. Thoughts on everything I watched in August after the jump. 

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Theatrical Viewing

A Perfect Day – Reviewed (4/5)

LifeReviewed (4/5)

The Ground We Won – Reviewed (3.5/5)

Southpaw Thick smearing of drama does test credibility, but Billy Hope carries debilitating grief into his bouts, climbing out of a deep dark hole of emotional despair as a result of severe trauma. The fights are very authentic, and Gyllenhaal’s amazing performance transcends the incredible physical transformation. Whitaker is also great, and McAdams has rarely been better. There was so much on the line in that final fight and tears were spilt (by me). Fuqua’s best film…convincingly. (3.5/5)

Deathgasm – Reviewed (3.5/5)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E – Raggedy and thin on thrills but a nicely subdued Ritchie gradually finds a rhythm and figures out how to use his attractive assets. Seriously, this film looks fantastic – cinematography, production detail and that cast. Debicki seems to have a blast, and the clear stand-out. Also loved the music. Initially I felt like it was all surface, and the fact that I haven’t thought much about it since the screening, suggests this is true. A good time at the cinema, though. I’d watch this again over Kingsman any day. (3/5)

Macbeth – I am still chewing on the charred entrails of this dark, grisly Shakespeare adaptation, but they taste as bad as it sounds. I feel now that this was a thumping disappointment. The language is full-on, not one iota pared back for accessibility, and I struggled through this grim-fest. Still, the cinematography, production design and costumes are amazing, so it is a visual treat at the very least. Not sure how I feel about the performances yet – the grasp on the language is inconsistent – but Cotillard (distracting accent aside) is my stand-out. If there ever was a film that could have been made to the entirety of Swans’ The Seer it was Macbeth. That amazing trailer has the right idea. Plenty love this film – I get it – but for a Shakespeare novice, this is not all that fun. (3/5)

7 Chinese Brothers – Reviewed (3/5)

Raiders! – Reviewed (3/5)

Peace Officer – Reviewed (2.5/5)

We Are Your Friends – Reviewed (2/5)

Irrational Man – Oh Woody. It pains me to admit that the great Joaquin Phoenix is part of a stinker, but this is such a film. The ridiculous story actually hits its stride for a while when it gets to the point of its existence – tackling the idea that existential healing may only be possible through the elimination of someone less desired on earth than you see yourself – but no-one talks like human beings in this film. Stone, who is quite poor here, never stops talking about Phoenix’s character (non-exclusive to her broken-record narration), and not even Phoenix can sell Woody’s ‘burned-out academic who gets involved with a student’ fantasy. A generous (2/5)

The Thoughts That Once We Had – Reviewed (1.5/5)

La Sapienza – Reviewed (1/5)

Belluscone: A Sicilian Story – Reviewed (1/5)

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New-at-Home

The Overnighters – I haven’t been able to shake the end revelation. Far out. A deeply affecting documentary with a moral complexity at the heart as it examines the idea of ‘human community’ amidst economic upheaval via the practices of a Christian Mission that face heavy opposition. Would have been in my elite docos of 2014. (4/5)

Jauja – Mesmerisingly gorgeous photography. Mortensen is fantastic in this very strange Stalker-meets-The Searcher(s) odyssey. Final act a bit rich for me. (3.5/5)

In the LoopCertainly has the barrage of inventive insults of its reputation. Very funny and worth another look in time. More Anna Chlumsky in things too. (3.5/5)

CrankBased on WOM I actually expected this to be a bit more fucked up. That’s crazy, it is still pretty fucked up. Not sure why I ever dismissed this back on release. Was 2006 too early to have Statham fatigue? (3.5/5)

The Hustler – Dark film but enjoyed this as a story about a life-loser with a desire to win so fierce he’ll bet the shirt on his back for it. Very long – nothing happens for ages – but Newman and Scott are great. (3/5)

Faults I stopped paying attention. Mostly my fault. Tired and distracted. But the film lost me.
Leland Orser is a peculiar actor – he’s very good here – but why is Lance Reddick given nothing to do? (2.5/5)

Cub – Well shot (by the DP of The Drop and Bullhead) and occasionally inventive scout-excursion mischief builds mystery but takes a silly, nasty turn and leaves far too much unexplained. Also, how many giallo-inspired scores were there in that 2014 TIFF Midnight Madness program? (2.5/5)

Hercules (2014) – I wanted something dumb. Oh, it is dumb. But only intermittently terrible. I was rather unimpressed with The Rock here, but I found the battle sequences to be pretty decent. The worst casting, though. Peter Mullan. I knew his character was dodgy the first time I saw him. (2/5)

Kill Me Three TimesIt’s not good, but I am sure even admirers will agree the score is horrendous. (1/5)

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Re-watches

Mad Max: Fury Road – I just watch it every month now. (5/5)

Old JoyStings me. Love it so much. Beautifully sad story of friends lamenting the past, uncertain of the future, comforted by baring all to nature. Toss a coin between this and Meek’s Cutoff, but Kelly Reichhardt is one of America’s very best filmmakers. (4.5/5)

Clouds of Sils Maria – I stand by it – Kristen Stewart’s performance is one of the finest I saw last year (and, well, this year). Stacked with metatext and subtext, Sils Maria seems to be a place of the gods. (4/5)

The American – An underrated film, and a great one. A pared-back study of a man clinging to fleeting humanity; living, but always sensing death close by. Is he escaping the game, or architecting own elimination? (4/5)

They Came Together – I laughed pretty consistently for 30 minutes, and then I don’t anymore. Plenty of great lines, and none more so than this: “Sounds like this Trevor guy is trying to get it on with your girlfriend.” “Well, in retrospect I agree with you, but at the time it seemed like he was just grabbing a condom out of the rubber bowl and heading over to meet my girlfriend.” (2.5/5)

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TV

Bloodline Season 1 (All) – One of my favourite shows of the year, for sure. Just stick with it – many have called it slow, but I feel like it lays out all the puzzle pieces with great care and thought, and then starts to piece them all together. You can’t have the puzzle without the pieces. Ben Mendelsohn’s complex performance is out of this world, but the whole cast is solid. Even when you think you have this family pegged, they surprise you. Some of the best editing work in a TV series for some time too. (4.5/5)

We also made a start on Bojack Horseman and Freaks and Geeks, and will continue through September.

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