February 2016 in Review

February is over, and awards season has gone. Glad to see the love bestowed on Mad Max: Fury Road, more than deserved. So, let's take a look through the films I watched over the past February.

Spotlight - 4.5/5 - After delivering one of the worst films of 2015 with The Cobbler, it's great to see Tom McCarthy make a comeback, and what a comeback it is. The strong script gifts the film with sharp dialogue, as well as a compelling and sobering story which is helped by McCarthy's terrific direction. The main draw to see Spotlight is the starry ensemble, who each put their all into earnest performances, which shows their commitment to uncovering this story.

Creed - 5/5 - An impressive sophomore effort from Ryan Coogler, and a tremendous return to Sylvester Stallone's famed franchise. The stunning performances, impressive fights and emotional weight accentuate what is one of the biggest snubs from this years Oscars.

Dust (2013) - 3.5/5 - A creepy short that puts an intriguing spin on a well known figure. Alan Rickman puts his all into the silent role.

Whiplash: Best film of the month
and Best film rewatched
The Great Train Robbery (1903) - 3/5 - One of the first films to contain an actual narrative, it's an iconic piece of history and entertaining. Yet it remains simplistic & rather dated.

The Big Short [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - Thanks to a second viewing, I'm more appreciative of what Adam McKay has delivered here. An important film about how we let the banks get greedy, all with a safety net in the form of a bail out.

Also, the amount of banker speak I understood rose from 60% to 85%.

Twilight [rewatch] - 1.5/5 - In an age of cinema where Michael Bay's Transformers series and Adam Sandler's Netflix originals have an additional 3 films to be released, Twilight is far from the worst thing ever. Don't get me wrong, it's still bad, but there's MUCH worse things out there.

Billy and Mandy's Big Boogie Adventure [rewatch] - 3/5 - A feature length adventure of Maxwell Atoms' fantastic TV show, boasting a great deal of fun throughout this humorous adventure. The plot is slight, and what we see feels like a lesser ep of the show that's been padded out for the 80 minute runtime. But there's not a lot worth complaining about, since we still get to spend time with these great characters.

Deadpool: Best film seen in cinemas (twice!)

John Wick - 4/5 - Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch manage to draw viewers into their debut, utilizing an understanding and effective emotional core, despite the plot being a bit thin and familiar. The proceedings are kept interesting by a good handle on the action and an intriguing world that you'll want to see more of. For somebody who often gives blank faced performances, Keanu Reeves is rather magnetic here. Granted, he's got nothing on Willem Dafoe or Michael Nyqvist, but he suits the lead role. Plus, it would've been good to have seen more of Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, or a severely underused John Leguizamo. Or if Alfie Allen settled on what accent to use.

Deadpool - 4/5 - A terrific adaptation with no mouths sewn shut.

Napoleon Dynamite [rewatch] - 1/5 - Jared Hess brings to life a tale about an irritating ego maniac, in a family full of them. His direction feels like the result of somebody noticing Wes Anderson's style, and attempting to copy it in the most bland manner possible. The result is an awkward film with no real goal in mind.

Goofy's Glider - 3/5 - This gorgeously animated short plays it safe overall and remains unmemorable, but allows a good amount of physical comedy.

Creed: Best film watched
for the first time
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane - 2.5/5 - The title is an enigma in itself. We're told and shown about the boys holding a love for Mandy Lane, but never have a compelling enough reason as to why she's so beloved. Despite one intriguing moment and some intriguing character beats, the slasher is rather generic and awful in the films opening. It doesn't improve when a killer enters the proceedings, until their identity is made known. When the film enters its finale, then things have definitely improved from it's opening, but not enough to forgive the whole film for it.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films - 4.5/5 - Cannon Films is a film company whose releases were focused on quantity over quality, infamous for the wackiness behind the scenes and running the actual company. This history is brought to screen, resulting in an account that's equally entertaining and intriguing, with anecdotes delivered by many of the stars and people involved with Cannon's work. Worth the watch.

Valentine's Day - 1/5 - I'll leave you to guess what day I watched this piece of crap on.

Triple 9: Biggest Disappointment

Deadpool [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - Second viewing improved it for me.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon - 0.5/5 - If you've ever wondered whether the vitriol aimed at the Twilight franchise is deserved, then this entry should solidify your opinion. It's astounding how this one film lives up to every bad word thrown against it. Bella Swan has to be one of the most selfish characters I've ever had the misfortune to witness onscreen.

Kiki's Delivery Service - 4/5 - Hayao Miyazaki delivers a sweet tale with a straightforward and simple plot, holding a quaint quality that's improved by gorgeous animation. It's helped by being full of fun, joy and likeable characters.

The Third Man - 5/5 - Carol Reed delivers an essential piece of film noir, delivering an engaging plot that's enhanced by captivating twists and turns, as winsome characters are brought to life by brilliant performances. Joseph Cotten-Valli is a fantastic lead, almost upstaged by Orson Welles in his short screentime.

The Third Man: Biggest Surprise
Mean Girls 2 - 0.5/5 - As a massive fan of the first, the fact this piece of awfulness even exists makes me want to destroy something beautiful. It feels as though this motion picture was given to life through a conversation supported by the statement "Remember how sharp the writing was from the original, delivering strong satire and wit mixed with hilarious moments? Let's do the complete opposite". Those strengths from the original are foregone for unfunny laziness, an abundance of clich├ęs and cardboard cutouts who portray poor copies of the original characters.

Ride Along 2 - 2/5 - The Kevin Hart/Ice Cube starrer from 2014 was a surprise hit, so here we are 2 years later, with another instalment. As the first was a weak attempt at a buddy comedy with poor performances, the sequel remains more of the same.

Whiplash (2014) [rewatch] - 5/5 - Third viewing, and this has climbed into my top 100. How did it take so long for it to click how masterful everything in here is, especially compared to the rest of that year?

How To Be Single - 3/5 - Not enough here to stand above the typically conventional entries into the genre, but it's a start. Apologies to Alison Brie, but the film would've benefited from her being cut out entirely.

Mean Girls 2: Worst film of the month

101 Dalmatians (1996) [rewatch] - 2/5 - Remains as unnecessary and lazy as it did upon it's release. Glenn Close is just too cartoonish to work here.

Ticky Tacky - 4/5 - Oscar Issac takes centre stage, full of bravado, delivering a wholly entertaining performance that makes this short well worth the watch.

The Chickening - 0.5/5 - Nick DenBoer and Davy Force take Stanley Kubrick's horror classic The Shining, and recut and edit it into a short that's completely unbelievable. The result may be only five minutes, but majorly tests your patience, leaving viewers to witness something beyond belief, comprehension and any sort of enjoyment. An idea that would've been better left in the rubbish.

Village at the End of the World - 3/5 - Sarah Gavron's documentary focuses on a village populated by 59 citizens, and the loss of their fish plant results in a slow death for the village. An intriguing look is taken at the citizens, from families who've lived there for generations, to the younger generation whose opportunities are limited, involving working in the one shop, become a fisherman and moving away. Unfortunately, these moments are offset by many dull stretches.

Triple 9 - 2.5/5 - With that cast, it should've been better. 2016's The Monuments Men.

Best film of the month: Whiplash
Best film seen in cinemas: Deadpool
Best film watched for the first time: Creed
Best film rewatched: Whiplash
Biggest Disappointment: Triple 9
Biggest Surprise: The Third Man
Worst film of the month: Mean Girls 2

Number of films watched: 26