November was busy. I caught 31 films, which is about the most I have watched any month this year, June and Sydney Film Festival aside. As the end of 2015 fast approaches, the time is running out to get to those 2015 films I want to watch before the year is out. During November I saw examples of both the best and worse of 2015 cinema, and watched some of the finest television around. Check my round-up out 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: Brooklyn
Queen of the Desert
Knight of Cups
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Love the Coopers
In the Heart of the Sea
New at Home
Best viewing: The End of the Tour
Russell Peters: Notorious
Last Cab to Darwin
People, Places, Things
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Best of Enemies
Best viewing: Of Horses and Men
Quantum of Solace
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Die Another Day
So much good stuff at the cinema! Brooklyn, 45 Years, Creed, The Dressmaker, Room, and Knight of Cups were all so excellent in very different ways. I’ll write about Brooklyn and Room closer to their Australian release dates and you can read by Knight of Cups thoughts here. 45 Years is a stunning examination of a marriage. It is a film about the small things – it’s the looks, the body language, and the words that are almost formed but remain unsaid. The performances from Rampling and Courtenay are quite something, powerful without being overtly dramatic. I was happy to finally catch Australian film The Dressmaker in a sold-out cinema in its 5th week of release. The film has done such gangbusters, it’s really great to see. I thought the film was absolutely bonkers – an Australian fashion revenge western. It refused to play by genre conventions and totally went its own way, and for that, I really do admire it.
With so many good things, the balance has to swing the other way, and November delivered me Queen of the Desert and Love the Coopers. I really don’t know what to say about Queen of the Desert, except I am shocked that such a talented, veteran filmmaker could make something quite so awful on every conceivable level. Also very awful is ensemble Christmas film, Love the Coopers, about the most unlovable, annoying, and quite frankly, nasty family. John Goodman is this film’s saving grace and gives us one character to connect to, but the rest of them are insufferable. The film has a very weird sense of humour in the fact that it thinks it’s funny, but it’s not, not even a little. I will give Christmas films a pass on almost everything, so it says a lot that I didn’t like this one.
I watched a lot of great stuff at home but The End of the Tour, Mr Homes, and Goldfinger were probably the highlights. I am still a little dumbfounded over The End of the Tour. Shit, that film was like pressing bruises – it kinda felt good, but it mostly hurt. I haven’t read much Foster Wallace, but I don’t think that hampered my connection with the film at all. There are universal themes here, particularly applicable to anyone who undertakes any sort of creative endeavor. Mr. Holmes was a lot more subtle than I expected. It was a quietly wonderful film, which revelled in the small details, both in terms of character and how the film looked. McKellan is amazing isn’t he? He’s not likely to be nominated for an Oscar, but he’d be on my shortlist.
I rewatched Icelandic dark comedy, Of Horses and Men and was equally impressed and enthralled the 2nd time around. I have no idea how they made large chunks of this film, it’s quite the technical marvel. I highly recommend this to those who haven’t really dipped there toes into the murky wonders of Scandinavian comedy.
Coming up in December? There are still a few big films to catch before 2015 says its final goodbyes. Carol, The Revenant, and Sisters are the 3 I am very much looking forward to. I also hope to play catch-up and knock off a bunch of films I missed at the cinema.
2015 viewing totals
New at Home: 102
Master of None – Season 1
Jessica Jones – Season 1 (Episodes 1-6)
UnREAL – Season 1
W/ Bob and David (Episode 1 & 2)
I am still working my way through Jessica Jones, but I have really enjoyed it thus far. The series is filled with fascinating, complex, and interesting characters. Is this the best Marvel baddie? Possibly, I love how sparingly they’ve used him thus far -the threat is mind-screwy enough for Jessica. UnREAL is such a cynical, unloving show. It is populated by nasty people and I feel that it honestly portrays the hideous industry that is “reality” television. The first half of the season was very meta and quite clever, but it went downhill in the second half when it became an out-and-out soap opera.
Master of None – I straight out love this show. I dig Ansari’s humour and think his observations on modern life are on-point. If I close my eyes and think about that show I see him trying to take care of his friends kids for the afternoon. Oh man, that’s totally going to be me one day. It’s great to see a show populated by real people – these look like your friends and people you see on the street. It’s not a show of catalogue models, and I really love that about it. Crossing my fingers it gets picked up for a 2nd season.