Tag Archives: 31

2017 in Review: January

rock

“Daddy’s gotta go to work.”

2017 has begun – and with it, my challenge to see a film a day for the duration of the year. 365 films before New Year’s Day 2018 should at least be a half decent way to watch a bunch of films that I either haven’t seen for ages or wouldn’t usually watch.

I tried and failed miserably last year, but I’m determined to make a decent go of it this time and so far, it is going pretty well. Months like this one would make it impossible to just list all the films I saw, there’s no way I can write that amount of film titles and make it interesting; so let’s try it this way.


expendablesWeek One

2017 started with a bang. We waited up for the fireworks and we watched a film. By 2am on the first day of the year film one, The Expendables, was in the bag. With a bunch of new films out that day, including Assassin’s Creed and A Monster Calls, my count was climbing nicely with, I shit you not, seven films done by the end of the day.

The rest of the week wasn’t that successful, but it honestly didn’t need to be. I had done a week’s worth of films on day one so everything from here was a bonus. A pair of Ted films and the end of The Expendables trilogy paved the way for us to start the next series on our pile of shame: The Fast and The Furious. We got through five of those movies in week one, dotted around shit sci-fi with Kill Command, a ghastly “horror” film in The Lesson and a surprisingly fun action revenge flick in I Am Wrath.

The first few days of the challenge ended with the surprisingly fun The Wolverine and the bloody awful Sisters. I’ve definitely had worse weeks.


avengersWeek Two

Back to work after the Christmas break meant no more cramming films during the day. But a new phenomenon was showing it’s head in our house. As well as the animated movies, my kid is wanting to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. She’s been asking for ages to watch Avengers Assemble, so I let her. And she loved them. Now she’s going through a load of the films in the MCU, with varying degrees of success, and enjoying them for the most part. She asks for them, I add them to my count. Win-win.

A couple of Oscar-bait films with the ghastly La La Land and Manchester by the Sea early on before we finished off the last two Fast and Furious entries. A fun popcorn horror flick in the form of the silly The Windmill Massacre, followed by the cut to pieces waste of space The Bye-Bye Man. Topping them off with the umpteenth viewing of Rob Zombie’s 31.

The week ended with more preparation for upcoming sequels with the final cut of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. What a way to end the week.


xxx-return-of-xander-cageWeek Three

We have a pile of blu-rays stacked up next to the TV. It’s our pile of shame. I vowed to have it cleared by the end of January and dammit that’s what I’m trying to do. This week was all about a shit film or two at the cinema – xXx 3 the worst culprit – and banging through these films I keep buying but not watching.

In Bruges, V for Vendetta, La Femme Nikita and Captain America: Civil War filled our week nights nicely this week. With our own Nikita’s comic book film love spreading to asking for Spider-Man films, I’m starting to regret letting her watch them. But I can’t help it, I love the look of amazement on her face when she watches them. As shit as some of these films are; more for the list. Finally managed to find time to rewatch the awesome Krampus too.

A pretty productive seven days that ended with a triple-bill at the local Odeon. A family trip to see Sing, followed by Jackie and Lion that evening.


ghost in the shellWeek Four

Now things are getting complicated. It’s the first big game release of the year and I’m dying to play it. I now have to figure a way to balance playing Resident Evil VII with film watching this week. I’ve watched plenty so I’ve got some wiggle room, but this is where I got complacent last year. So a balancing act it has to be.

But a ton of MCU films in the evenings means that once the kid is in bed, it’s guilt-free xbox time! I’ve racked up an unbelievable number of films in the last few weeks, but it’s not over for January yet. For the first time in years I sat down and watched the classic Ghost in the Shell, a film that never stops being good. For the first time I watched it with the English dub and the voice work actually did more to persuade me that Scarlett Johansson will be worth watching in the remake.

This week also saw the Oscars nominations released, which gave me an enormous list of films to source and watch before the awards in a few weeks’ time. In a roundabout way, this led to chat about documentaries, which led to me rewatching (and the wife watching for the first time) last year’s Zero Days and the thoroughly depressing, life ruining 13th.

Cinema trips felt limited this week though. Although I finally got to see the outstanding Hacksaw Ridge and the thoroughly crap Denial; they were both overshadowed by last film I saw this month, the brilliant Moonlight – a film whose review I start writing the second I’m done with this.

Overall, a solid month. Saw some amazing movies and some real dross. But my count is looking good and healthy.

One month down, eleven to go.

Films seen this month: 60

Current count, as of 31st January: 60 of 365.

Advertisements

2016: A Year in Review, A Challenge Failed

“These timelines are so confusing.”  

2016 has been a real arse of a year, hasn’t it? With only a few days until this awful, awful year is behind us, I thought I would take a few words – OK, a lot of words – to share with you not only my challenge of the last twelve months, but my 365 day long journey towards failure.

I’ve been writing regularly for Failed Critics for more than a year now; closer to two, in fact. Between forcing Owen to constantly edit my pointless rants into something readable (sometimes two or three times a week) and being lucky enough to be invited to appear on the podcast every few weeks, I’m always watching something. But I got to the end of last year and thought that, considering what was becoming start a large part of my life, I wasn’t watching nearly enough. So I set myself simple enough challenge…

A film a day throughout 2016. That’s at least 365 unique films by the time we hit New Year’s Day 2017. They didn’t need to be brand new films, although of course some would have to be, but the list just needed to have 365 films on it.

Sadly, I failed. Miserably.

I started so well too. All those award season films we didn’t get until the new year and all those blu-rays I got for Christmas padded my numbers out nicely early on. With me making a real effort to watch everything in time for the Oscars podcasts in February, everything was looking peachy. The start of my year was looking great.

An early guest spot on fellow Failed Critic Tony Black’s Pick-a-Flick podcast in time for The Hateful Eight meant I banged through three Quentin Tarantino films in one night as preparation, not only filling in my spreadsheet super quick, but giving me the chance to have a night off. Similar super-fast binges followed for specials on South Korean cinema, Shane Black’s filmography and Batman Vs. Superman. It was all going so well.

Then, Deadpool happened.

Within our little echo chamber of people, there are a couple of things I’ve become a bit notorious for this year. The second of these was my explosion of hate and abuse that was my Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie review. A few hundred words of such utter contempt for a film that saw some of the worst things I’ve ever written put to paper for all to see. Everyone seemed to love it.

But the first was the fact that in its short theatrical run, I managed to see Deadpool ten times in the various cinemas local to me that, even with various Unlimited cards to my name, I still paid to see several times. It became the first movie this year that I pre-ordered on American iTunes to ensure I could watch it again as soon as possible, as well as buying a lovely looking steelbook blu-ray when it came out in the U.K.

As of right now, 2016 has seen me watch The Merc with the Mouth an insane sixteen times. But as great as that is, it had a pretty detrimental effect on my list of watched films. Filling out numbers with multiple viewings is great – more on that in a bit – but I wanted a unique film every day; and it was starting to look like it’d be a tough one to pull off now.

Months pass and, while I’m certain I’m going to fall short, I’m kept pretty busy. Between watching entire series’ within franchises before their latest instalments come out (*cough* The Purge: Election Year *cough*) and enjoying Suicide Squad enough to fit in multiple screenings, my numbers aren’t looking too bad. This might even be doable. Especially by the time August came around.

Baby’s first FrightFest!

I’m a long time horror fan. It’s usually my genre of choice and going to Fright Fest has been a dream of mine for years. This writing nonsense was the perfect (extra) excuse to spend a couple of hundred quid and get my arse to London. Sadly, work commitments (namely: hating my job), meant that my trip was kind of gimped and I could only manage three of the five days. But I saw some amazing stuff, including Rob Zombie’s latest gorefest, 31. It broke into my top ten instantly and is another film that I’ve paid to watch at least three times since I first saw it – including a trip to the hallowed grounds of the Prince Charles Cinema to see it on the big screen again.

Three days of non-stop horror added something like twenty films to my list in a short space of time. A welcome boost to my spreadsheet. The introduction of “Netflix of Horror” service Shudder to the UK certainly didn’t hurt either.

One of the reasons I set myself this challenge was because there was so much stuff taking up film watching time that I wanted to make space for more. But I also wanted to share it with the family. Obviously, my three year old can’t be watching Ringu, Suburra or Pet Sematary – all films that are on the list – but there’s a huge amount of children’s films that we can watch together. I could kill two birds with one stone; I can show Nikita a variety of films, avoiding the dross that is kid’s TV, and pad out my numbers during the day.

This backfired horribly. Instead of getting a ton of extra films on my list, I ended up watching thirteen films 83 times. EIGHTY THREE! This included sixteen views of Big Hero 6. We watched Zootropolis eight times, all of them at the cinema; and one ‘movies for juniors’ trip to see Kubo and the Two Strings, not at all influenced by the bollocking I took from Callum Petch for having not watched it yet. (Excellent little film, by the way). But, you know, she’s also squeezed in multiple watches of Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book and the much hated Ghostbusters reboot, so I’m not going to complain too hard, even if the little git did ruin my numbers!

Of course it’s all well and good me blaming everyone else for me failing this ridiculous challenge. Once October rolled around, I had no one but myself to blame. It turned out that convincing Failed Critics head honcho Owen to give up his feed to me and my mate to chat bollocks about video games once a fortnight was the easy part to starting the Character Unlock podcast. Losing a night to record and a night (sometimes two) to editing eats away at your valuable film watching time. More than that, if you wanna talk about games, it helps if you’ve played them first! There goes more hours that could have been spent with my hands down my pants watching films. Damn, whatever was I thinking?

And that brings us to today. Where I’m sitting in the house on my own watching Scuzz TV and writing this instead of adding more films to my list. It’s no wonder I failed at this challenge this year. Hitting a little over half of the intended 365 unique films, I managed a measly 213. Once I tallied up the films I’d watched multiple times, whether it be with the little one or because I was weirdly obsessed with Ryan Reynolds’ spandex covered arse, my total is a slightly more respectable 344. Still not good enough, but I’m getting there.

So what does 2017 hold? Well, I’m looking to try the same challenge again once January kicks in, but I’ll be happy if I can beat this year’s numbers. I’ll be leaving Letterboxd aside and sticking to my Numbers spreadsheet and hoping for the best. With several long running franchises getting sequels this year, I’ll be binging through collections like Alien, Saw and The Fast and the Furious early on. I have every intention of hitting FrightFest stronger this year and getting to a few shows at the London Film Festival after having to skip it this year.

This time around though, I’m dragging you lot along with me. To try and force me to keep better track of what I’m doing, and hopefully to embarrass me enough to actually work at it, I’ll be putting together a monthly article covering the best and worst of what I’ve seen that month and hopefully start a bit of a running tally. I might not make it to 365, but I’m damn sure going to have fun trying. See you in January.

FrightFest 2016 – Day Four

“In hell, everybody loves popcorn.”

And so begins day four. Sadly, my last day at the festival. I don’t care if it’s the London Film or Download, as is the way with all festivals, the last day means a sea of tired bodies, struggling to get to the first act of the day, let alone make it to the end. And the bogs fucking reek!

That aside, this is an interesting day. Besides the evening’s closer, I don’t know anything about any of these films. I’m going in completely blind and hoping for a surprise or two. So for the last time this year, won’t you come join me?


Downhill

“Come outside. There’s nowhere to hide.”

Hopefully not starting the day as we mean to go on, the UK premiere of Downhill promised us that “Evil Awaits”. Unfortunately, the only thing that awaited the audience in the Horror Channel screen was a mosh-mash of genres that didn’t seem to be able to decide what it wanted to be.

Set up like a scary stuff in the woods flick, we are forced to watch an awful lot of GoPro footage of bikes on dirt tracks before our main characters, a pair of bike racers, stumble across a man in a jeep bleeding. Insanity ensues as we are treated to a dude with a weird infection that seems to be zombifying him, a bizarre cult, completely unexplained bags of meat hanging from trees and a bunch of hunters that, although the film is set in South America, suddenly seem to have menacing south London accents. Oh yeah, and there’s angry people having angry sex around confused and angry looking goats. For fuck’s sake.

A couple of half decent tense scenes can’t rescue this pretty bland mess of a film.


Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word

“Maybe God shouldn’t have played God.”

Upping the quality for the second film of the day. Red, White and Blue director Simon Rumley takes on an eerie true story of a convicted rapist and murderer who to his last breath pronounced his innocence and cursed everyone involved in his death sentence.

This genuinely chilling story of a ghost exacting his revenge from beyond the grave isn’t just a great horror film, but it’s a magnifying glass on some very real issues that affect the United States to this day. As our characters start dropping like flies and begin investigating the situation they find themselves in, it asks a lot of questions about the finality of capital punishment.

A great story, some very scary and chilling scenes that will leave you with goosebumps. An excellent film.


Broken

“Are you sure you’re cut out for this?”

Martyrs‘ Morjana Alaoui stars in the latest world premiere of the day. This psychological horror takes a slightly slower pace for the day and sees two main characters fighting disabilities in their own way.

One man, a tetraplegic former rock star, bound to a wheel chair for life is fighting with the day-to-day horrors of not being able to live his life. Having all of his freedom taken away has become his own personal hell. Fighting his present and future, he needs help 24/7. That help comes from an agency carer who is fighting the demons of her past that just won’t let her be. Together the pair struggle with each others differences as the film culminates in a bloody mess of inevitability.

A great film that’s going to be playing on my mind for some time.


Realive

“I was able to live, because I chose to die.”

Ok, so the guys really pulled one out of left field for this. Being a horror film festival, I expected even films labelled as sci-fi to have a scary element to them. After all, Alien and Event Horizon sit firmly in both genres. But nothing like that here.

A conventional sci-fi flick, Realive is a futuristic Frankenstein story with healthy doses of films like Moon added in for good effect. A decent outing, it’s the story of a man brought back to life in the 22nd century after freezing himself Walt Disney-style in the early 21st. An interesting premise for a film as we watch the newly resurrected Marc Jarvis essentially go from being a newborn to a fully fledged adult in a matter of months. Quickly learning to ask questions about where he’s from and why he’s here, the answers he find really aren’t the ones he wanted to hear.

Probably the biggest budget film of the day, but not really the right setting for its European Premiere.


31

“Murder school. Is now in session.”

Rob Zombies latest exploitation, grindhouse, hillbilly horror has finally hit these shores. The film that I came to FrightFest for has finally come around.

It’s just another Zombie film. He doesn’t do anything new or original, but those that came to this party know the dance – and that dance is exactly why I’m here. The seventies-set film about a family of carnies grabbed on the roadside and thrown into a deadly maze where nasty people with nasty names like Sexhead and Deathhead are coming at you with some really fucking dodgy weapons. I mean, there’s a Nazi clown midget who speaks Spanish. Need I say more?

Crazy deaths, a mental soundtrack – whether album or scoring, I love listening to Rob Zombie and John 5 working together – and an hour and forty minutes of carnage. I loved every blood soaked second of it.


And so ends FrightFest 2016

That’s it for my first FrightFest. And that’s it for your first FrightFest with me. Tomorrow actually sees the festival end and the booze addled shut in begin. With films like Found Footage 3D and Train to Bursan headlining the screens, it’s sure to be a good one.

Sadly though, this is my last day here. But it’s been a blast. Great films, shit films and a ton of cool people. I genuinely can’t and won’t ask for more than that. I’ll definitely be back next year. I will probably put together a bit of a round up in the next few days after I’ve scoured VOD for a few films I missed; but until then, it’s another day where I’m getting home at stupid o’clock in the morning. I need my bed guys.

Later.