February 2022 In Review

A quiet month for me in film-watching, which involved some festival watches, a run through the Jackass series, and giving a chance to some maligned films. So, let's jump in and see what films I watched this past February.

Bratz (2007) - 2.5/5 - Considering this is a live-action adaptation of popular dolls, this film is better than it has any right to be. The films hinges on the core quartet of friends and I believed in their bonds, struggling with maintaining their friendship while making new connections based on their likes. It was easy to believe in how they had each others back because they conveyed that very well. What's more baffling is what surrounds that, as they contend with a wannabe fascist in the form of a spoilt high-schooler aided by her simpering principal father played by a befuddling Jon Voight. The scene-stealer is her little sister, played by a sardonic Emily Everhard, although it's icky when she keeps getting hit on by a visibly older kid. I'm struggling to grasp as to what this film is, especially with its forced musical numbers, unfortunate stereotypes regarding some family home lifes, and screenplay which results in awkward moments far too often. Yet it's far too interesting to dismiss outright.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014) - 2.5/5 - What co-writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner has crafted offers an interesting spin on the zombie apocalypse tale, crossing it with Mad Max style world-building and unique changes to the undead biology which helps this film stand out amongst other genre offerings. In spite of this, I do wish the feature was more engaging in execution rather than theory, because the ensuing set-pieces and developments feel hollow and trying too hard to be "cool".

Best film of the month and
Best film rewatched: Magnolia

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse (2022) - 2/5 - A bit of Ozploitation that's less Fury Road and more Frustrating Fields.

Titane (2021) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - A fiercely original blend, detailing lost souls finding love amidst death and car sex. One to get your motor running.

Jackass: The Movie (2002) [rewatch] - 3/5 - As the Jackass crew take their adventures to feature length, what occurs is certainly an unpolished jump to the big screen. There's a great array of stunts ranging from the hilarious, such as the hardware store crap which fails on the first try, to the wince-inducing, such as paper cuts and the wasabi snooters. There's great fun to be had from the crass and juvenile stunts, although there's some which could've been cut and not hurt the film, such as the Bathroom Beating and Jacuzzi. It remains an enjoyable watch, and has me excited to revisit the following installments.

Best film seen in cinemas and Best film
watched for the first time: Jackass Forever

Belfast (2021) - 2.5/5 - While waiting for his Death on the Nile adaptation to finally get released, Kenneth Branagh's made an entirely different film which was a nostalgic ode to his childhood in 1969 Belfast. Told through the eyes of its young lead, the depictions of growing up amidst turmoil and more crowdpleasing elements are on show, yet they're never married leaving the two tones to unfortunately clash throughout. There's also far too many instances of scenes cutting too suddenly, leaving pivotal moments and conversations to feel rushed through far too often.

It's worth mentioning how terrifically acted and gorgeously shot this is. Jude Hill does terrific work in his first role, with Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan standing out as the parents with a tough decision to make. The monochrome scenes are contrasted by trips to the cinema and theatre, stunningly showing the power of such experiences at a young age, and yet these small moments where the most that I connected with the film. It all felt so engineered to try and move me, in the most cloying ways which missed the mark. Of the 2021 films where Jamie Dornan sings, this is no Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar.

Homebound (2022) - 4/5 - An unsettling film about what parents pass onto their children.

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) - 2/5 - The third entry into Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel's franchise wanted to shed the comedic tone of the Cannon Films sequel, aiming at a return to grittier roots. Production issues led to the firing and rehiring of director Jeff Burr, and 4 minutes being cut from its release. All of this behind the scenes drama is far more interesting than the film itself, an unfortunately boring picture that's rather devoid of tension. Any highlights involve Ken Foree as Benny, a bright spark amongst a cavalcade of uninteresting characters.

Biggest Disappointment: Belfast

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) - 2.5/5 - As far as 2000s remakes go, this isn't bad. It's a shame the dread terror of the original has been replaced with by-the-numbers jumps within a bog standard flick, although there's moments and shots which set itself apart pretty well. The tracking shot through a dead body is particularly inspired, although I wish there were more tremendous inclusions like that.

Disaster Movie (2008) - 0/5 - What a dreadful way to kick off my week. It's certainly a disaster, although this is barely a movie. What Friedberg and Seltzer cobbled together is a flimsy story built around lazy pop-culture references, and though that's standard in their filmography, this makes their other works look Oscar worthy. What they try passing off as "jokes" includes the pop-culture references, as exemplified by a nightmarish version of Kung-Fu Panda who makes comments about sleeping with the princess parody of Enchanted. Underlying it all is a genuine nastiness, as cruel barbs at Amy Winehouse open a film littered with casual misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. Easily one of the worst films ever made.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) - 1/5 - A lucky dip of ideas cobbled together, to make something tiresome and crass.

Biggest Surprise: Jackass Number Two

Jackass Number Two (2006) [rewatch] - 5/5 - For their second feature film, the Jackass gang have clearly become more accustomed to the big screen as there's a more refined nature to these unbelievable stunts. From the opening which sees the gang outrunning charging bulls, there's a greater sense of peril as the unhinged ideas arrive in greater quantities. For every The Valentine and The Fart Mask which left me exhausted with laughter, there was a Fish Hook and Leech Healer which left me struggling to watch the screen, making for an excellent fusion of slapstick comedy with transgressive cinema. What's most deserving of conversation is Terror Taxi, a segment which turns racist depictions of terrorism on its head into one of the most gloriously sadistic things I have ever seen. Truly one of the greatest comedies I have ever seen.

Jackass Forever (2022) - 4.5/5 - Of all the films I've seen since returning to the cinema, this gave me the theatrical experience I've longed for. With a quarter-full cinema screen, the audience bonded over the sheer creativity on offer which made them elicit magnificent reactions. From the difficult to watch moments to unimaginable stunts which feel wholly unique to the medium of cinema, this feels like an unhinged evolution from where silent cinema took audiences while offering tender moments which acknowledge the passage of time.

It's also fucking hilarious. The Silence of the Lambs inspired segment is one of the best things I've seen all year.

A Cloud So High (2022) - 3.5/5 - A compelling dive into destructive self-healing.

Worst film of the month: Disaster Movie

Magnola (1999) [rewatch] - 5/5 - No matter how many times I watch this, I find myself engrossed in the characters journeys which mirror the weather in how intense and frantic they become before all hell breaks loose. I also find myself wondering how many different ethnicities Alfred Molina has played on-screen.

Studio 666 (2022) - 2/5 - A feature length Foo Fighters vehicle, this is a horror comedy which misses the mark on being both horrific and humorous. There's fun to be had, particularly with the gory kills, although what surrounds that is undone by lacklustre direction and tiresome writing. After delivering fun turns in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny and The Muppets, Dave Grohl brings that charisma into his role once more while his band-mates are more varied in their portrayals. It says something that Jenna Ortega gets so little screentime, yet outshines the cast with her opportunity.

Best film of the month: Magnolia
Best film seen in cinemas: Jackass Forever
Best film watched for the first time: Jackass Forever
Best film rewatched: Magnolia
Biggest Disappointment: Belfast
Biggest Surprise: Jackass Number Two
Worst film of the month: Disaster Movie

Number of films watched: 16