Another month into Andrew Brooker’s self-imposed challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days. See how he’s been getting on below.
“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.
“The Purge is Halloween for adults!”
For me, The Purge is one of those surprising little films that defied a lot of expectations. Lumped in with a load of crap *cough*horror*cough* films, it was quite unfairly labelled as another cheap shocker designed by studios to maximise profit.
Now I’m not saying that it wasn’t like that; I’m just saying its a bit unfair. For all its faults, The Purge was actually a really fun, reasonably well put together little movie that built a brutal dystopian vision for the future with some wholly original ideas and confidence in what it wanted to say.
That was 2013. One year later, the sequel upped the ante in every aspect. The Purge: Anarchy took Purge night to the streets and made it a social and political satire that starred diet Frank Castle, played by Frank Grillo. Both he and this sequel blew us all away and quite rightly has been brought back for the third in the trilogy, The Purge: Election Year.
The young survivor of a Purge night that saw the rest of her family killed, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) has worked tirelessly to get where she is today. A presidential nominee running on a platform with a strong anti-purge message, the senator has made some powerful enemies getting here. Not least of all, she’s pissed of the people that invented The Purge, the people that have been living off of the money generated by it, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA).
When the senator gets closer to the White House than the NFFA would like, they decide to use the cover of The Purge to do something about it. Changing the rules of their own game to make it OK to kill politicians, Roan has definitely had the cards stacked against her this year. Luckily, her ace in the hole is Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) the man that not only survived the purge the year before, but has personally found salvation on purge night. The former police sergeant has to fight against odds greater than he could have ever imagined to keep her alive.
The Purge, as a series, has never had subtlety on its list of traits. Its satire is like a sledgehammer to the groin when it gets to its point and this third entry in the series may be the meatiest sledgehammer yet. In an actual election year where Americans get to choose between a woman for President and a semi-psychotic orange badger with a god complex, the lady vs the establishment isn’t just obvious, it’s basically been advertised as the presidential race we all want to see.
From the beginning writer and director James DeMonaco has had something to say. He’s pushed the point that the poor are true targets of the purge while the rich swim in the money generated by it. But here, everything that the media shows us has a metaphor – for want of a better word – on screen. And it’s all anti-Donald Trump.
Redneck, gun toting Neo-Nazis in hunting parties chasing the senator; crazy foreigners inviting themselves to the country to enjoy the rights and freedoms of Americans; kids, teenagers, who have been brainwashed into thinking this is the right way to go about things and an entire country blindly defending their “rights”. Nothing is off limits in this dialled-up-to-eleven sequel.
The problem with that is while this film is pushing its agenda at you, whether you agree with it or not, it is screaming very loudly without actually saying anything of real substance. Plenty of “Black Lives Matter” references and all the images of old white men trying to keep the status quo they created isn’t going to make your point for you if there isn’t real substance to your movie.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film, far from it, but a couple of black guys mowing down a gaggle of purgers all dressed like former presidents draped in red, white and blue not only doesn’t quite make the point you were hoping for, but takes a lot away from the actual fun of the film.
But overall, The Purge: Election Year is a very good film when it allows itself to have its fun and just have its cool concept put on screen. It’s a roller coaster. I can even get behind its preachy message and none-too-subtle support for getting a lady president when it kicks its action up a notch, getting back to the action thriller roots we love so much. But mainly, I just wanna watch Frank Grillo kick ass, take names, and kick a little more ass. It’s what made the sequel so great, turning it into a low budget Punisher flick, and those are the best bits of this three-quel.
In the grand scheme of things, I would say this latest Purge film does a lot of what its predecessor did right, even if it is starting to wear a little thin. Not as good as the second film, but better than the first, Election Year is a fun, if slightly overlong and over preachy addition to the Purge series. If, as I hope it is, this is the last one, then it’s a fitting end to a series that has been a ton of fun to watch.
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Failed Critics Podcast where we’re once again Steve Norman-less. But don’t panic! Tony Black is here to spare you the agony of having to listen to Owen Hughes attempt to host the show. Tony and Owen were also joined by special guests and lovely chaps Daryl Bär and Ben Challoner from the Sudden Double Deep podcast, whose wit, intelligence and fantastic insults make them a more than welcome addition to Failed Critics.
Together the team try to come to terms with the news of Gene Wilder’s passing breaking just minutes before recording started, as well as perusing the BBC Culture poll of the top 100 films of the 21st century, plus a quick glance at the latest figures around who earns what in Hollywood.
The main releases this week include: the latest Jason Statham action vehicle Mechanic: Resurrection; a barrel of laughs and a barrel-sized Jonah Hill in the “based on a true story” black comedy War Dogs; and dystopian thrills and not-much-bloody-spills with The Purge: Election Year.
There was even a teensy bit of room for us to chat about all the films we’ve been watching lately. Found-footage horror As Above, So Below crossed Owen’s path, whilst documentaries were the order of the day for the remaining trio. Daryl takes us through the insightful Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig, Ben was lucky enough to catch Weiner, and Tony spreads the love about the unambiguous Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s the Fantastic Four.
Join us again next week as the line-up returns to normal as Callum joins Owen and Steve. It’ll be a real Sausage Party………. what?
Welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, boldly going where we’ve only been once before. That is to say, it’s another episode without any guests!
Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are left to their own devices, and yet still end up discussing two new releases. They review the latest sci-fi franchise to become a trilogy in Star Trek Beyond – well, one of them can review it as the other hasn’t seen it (all) – as well as Spielberg’s adaptation of everybody’s favourite childhood author, Roald Dahl’s classic, The BFG.
Elsewhere on the show, the duo run through as many of the trailers from San Diego Comic Con as they could get their hands on, plus Steve’s reaction to The Ouija Experiment, his booby-prize for losing last week’s quiz. There’s also enough time for some appreciation for The Purge films ahead of next month’s release of Election Year, as well as a quick appreciation for Andy Samberg’s latest comedy, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which is also due out exactly one month from today.
Join us again next week for a special triple-bill episode loosely connected to the forthcoming Olympics!