I thought it might be fun to start doing a round-up of the movies I watch each month. I enjoy telling you guys about what I’ve been up to anyway and because I barely review half the films I watch hopefully it’ll be a nice feature.
Compared to some of you cool cats I don’t watch many films anyway, but for me (someone who also needs to fit in reality TV and excessive amounts of Family Guy), January has been fairly successful – eleven movies in total.
That averages three a week (maths always was my strong point) and only one was a re-watch – a personal success. I do have a habit of watching old favourites over new stuff and I’m the same with books. But is there anything greater than reading a favourite book? No.
So anyway, Pulp Fiction was the first film I watched in 2016 – and obviously was my re-watch. I spent New Year’s Eve on my own at home – which was perfectly fine. I still got tipsy and had fun talking to myself. My friend came over for dinner but as we’re both old and boring she left before midnight and I watched the fireworks on TV followed by Pulp Fiction. The perfect start to the year.
The second film I watched was the fantastic Captains Courageous, a 1937 film based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling.
It tells the story of a spoiled, rich brat called Harvey (played by a truly wonderful Freddy Bartholomew) who falls overboard his father’s cruise liner and gets picked up by a fishing boat with a hard hitting, no nonsense crew.
Though at first disgusted by their coarse standards and rough ways, Harvey eventually begins to mature and realise the true meaning of life – i.e not being an annoying little snob. Helped along by fisherman Manuel (Spencer Tracey) with whom he forms a special friendship, I can honestly say this was my favourite movie of the month.
Amy was third on my list – a haunting documentary film about the late Amy Winehouse. It had quite an effect on me and you can read my review here.
Next, Kingsman – the over-the-top, very funny British spy movie. Now I’d heard good things anyway but actually enjoyed it even more than I expected, a rare result. Not sure what I can say that hasn’t been said already but it was just an awesome amount of fun and appealed to me a lot. And yes, I fancied Eggsy. If that’s even allowed.
Fifth is London to Brighton, a 2006 gritty British film following a prostitute who becomes sort of a mother figure to a young girl after they go on the run together, following an unpleasant incident in London.
It’s violent, grim and wholly depressing – pretty much the essential ingredients for a gritty British film. This was the only movie I watched on television all month and ironically I’d already borrowed the DVD from my sister. Obviously I just love adverts.
Not the best I’ve ever seen, quite gripping and well made but too dreary and unsavoury to ever be a favourite. I doubt I’d watch it again but it was good enough.
Pure coincidence but the next film I watched had ‘Brighton’ in the title too. Yep, I finally watched the 1947 classic Brighton Rock starring Richard Attenborough – who I honestly had never seen play a baddie before.
I wouldn’t say Brighton Rock blew me away like some of the old movies I’ve watched and some people will be aghast to hear this but I have no huge desire to watch it again. I was glad to cross it off my list of course and I loved the bit at the end with the record player and it was cool seeing Attenborough play the cruel, psychopathic Pinkie.
A very popular film is next on the list – Mad Max: Fury Road, which I finally got around to watching, having heard nothing but good things from – well everyone really.
I’m not sure if it was the ‘high expectation build up’ but I didn’t love the movie as much as I hoped I would. But before you all start grumbling and petitioning and ‘say whaat-ing’ I’d like to add I did definitely enjoy the film – I just didn’t love it.
I know when I love a movie, I get excited and immediately want to watch it again and talk about it and make other people watch it and it makes me feel something. The most recent movie that made me feel like that was The Guest (2014) and I’m talking top 10 addition time. I didn’t get that feeling from Fury Road.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve never watched the original films, or perhaps I was influenced by my dad. I watched it with him and he wasn’t overly keen, constantly comparing it to the old Mel Gibson versions.
The phrase ‘style over substance’ sprang to mind once or twice, but I will reiterate it was a very fun movie. I liked Nux (predictably) and the old Ozzy birds at the end were great too. I enjoyed the comedic bits in the script and I thought the madness of the whole thing was very cool – but nothing I hadn’t seen before if I’m honest.
I bought Kiki’s Delivery Service for my boyfriend for Christmas – every birthday and Christmas he gets a different Studio Ghibli film from me. I had only seen Spirited Away when we met seven years ago, but slowly he’s been working me through the collection – apart from Die Hard I think they’re the only movies he really enjoys.
I’m the first to admit I’m the not the biggest fan of kids animation – in all honesty I’d rather watch something where people are cut up with a chainsaw, but the Ghibli films are generally very charming. Set somewhere in Europe, Kiki’s Delivery Service has more of a ‘Western’ vibe than some of the series but I like that anyway. It’s an older one, released in 1989 and the story line – following a young witch who has left home to complete her training – isn’t particularly serious. Just a fun, likable film with the recurring Ghibli message about friendship and strength.
I’m proud to declare that I bought this next film based entirely on the fact it starred Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit (and I’ll watch any horror film, like ever). But Population 436 was surprisingly good and shared similarities with the The Wicker Man and felt reminiscent of Stephen King or The Twilight Zone.
Basically, Elton from Clueless plays a government worker sent to a weird little town to complete a census. Things are odd anyway but when Elton from Clueless realises the population count has always been 436 – for hundreds of years, things get even weirder. A nifty little horror film that I’ll enjoy watching again – and Fred Durst was actually good as the nice-but-dim local police officer.
The 2001 British film Essex Boys was the next movie I watched. It tells the loose story of the Range Rover Murders that happened in 1995 in Rettendon, Essex (five minutes from where I live now). There have been three films made about the triple murder and the thugs that were supposedly involved, as well as their links to drug dealing, football hooliganism and generally just being twats. I’d already seen Rise of the Footsoldier (2007) and Bonded by Blood (2010) but I’d never seen the original – Essex Boys. It wasn’t anything special but I enjoy most British thug movies so it kept my interest. Sheffield born Sean Bean was an interesting choice for lead character I must say.
And lastly, possibly least-ly, I watched the Poltergeist remake on Netflix. Which I had no real hope for and only really watched for a laugh on Sunday morning as I was waiting for my washing to finish.
Okay it wasn’t actually TOO bad. Effort was made to make the family likable (not that I particularly liked them but I knew what was going on, I ain’t no fool) and the CGI wasn’t as terrible as I expected. But at the same time it wasn’t really scary, there wasn’t anything new and the original Poltergeist is such a classic it’s hard to accept a new sub-standard version. I’m not against remakes at all, I enjoyed the Carrie remake and I preferred the US version of The Ring, but this felt kinda pointless. Something for teenagers to snog through perhaps.
And there we have it, the eleven films I watched in January.
Just to summarise and in case anyone (everyone) scrolled straight to the bottom, here’s the list again in a top 11 ‘of enjoyment’. Proving that no-one’s opinion is objective and in theory Population 436 should be nominated for an Oscar?
11. London to Brighton
9. Essex Boys
8. Brighton Rock
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. Population 436
5. Kiki’s Delivery Service
3. Pulp Fiction (re-watch otherwise would have been higher)
1. Captains Courageous