Tuesday, 8 October 2013

What I've Been Watching This Year: Epicly Proportioned Waffle, Part 2

So, before you ever expected it, and in an unprecedentedly quick move, here’s Part 2 of this post sequence.  All that stuff I have been watching this year (though obviously I am NOT going to bother you with any thoughts I had while watching William and Kate, The Movie, which was a bit of a taste failure on my part, despite my much vaunted love of crap TV movies)…


  1. Confetti
    (Lovely little English comedy, enjoyed a lot.  Loved the weddings at the end – sort of want a Busby Berkley wedding myself now
  2. Eyes of Laura Mars
    (AGAIN!  Watched for a blog post I’m writing.  Did not enjoy as much as I usually do.  Found it tiresome and rather silly, especially Faye Dunaway.  But there is nothing wrong with Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in this.  He is astonishingly good, something very present yet absent in his face, as befits someone moving between personalities.  And the scene at the end where he says “its me you want”, that camera angle and the semi blank look on his face – never bettered, shiver shiver.  It’s his film through and through.)
  3.  Stagedoor
    (AGAIN!  Even wittier than I remember.  Ginger Rogers steals most of the film, and it has that late Depression era wisecrack feeling all over it.  Apparently a lot of the dialogue was improvised – in which case what astonishingly sharp wit they all had; makes us all look like dullards now.  Lucille Ball looks amazing: what a complete babe she was.)
  4. Exorcismus
    (Interesting horror – Spanish crew, English base and actors. Had some interesting camera work and a nice low key feel.  But dragged appallingly toward the end and lost its atmosphere.  But an interesting idea, that the priest wanted the devil to come.  I still wonder why we believe in devils that are affected by exorcism.  The Stephen King idea of it being belief fighting belief, the reason placebos work is sound.  But…still it doesn’t quite make sense.  The fact we have consciousness that no other animal appears to share in the same way or degree would seem to make us marked out and different.  Does this mean different cosmic rules apply to us, different laws of physics?  Is it arrogance to say there is no God?  Or arrogance to assume there is one, and that that god would be supremely interested in us and using us in a battle for, what?  Anyway, this oddly slow moving film had me thinking some of these thoughts.)
  5.  The Last Exorcism
    (MOST interesting.  As in, it was the last exorcism for Cotton Marcus, who may have lived or died doing it, we don’t know.  First it seemed she  - the ubiquitous girl, in this case, rivalling Linda Blair in her lovely innocence - wasn’t possessed, then that she was; then that she was suffering from acting out in a very ignorant environment, then she was again, and the only reasonable people in the film turned out to be the nutters invoking the devil.  Rollicking good fun film that was rational the whole way through and went Rosemary’s Baby and Devil Rides Out at the end, just for the hell of it!  I would recommend this!  A good time had by all!)
  6. The Awakening
    (A strange and sad ghosty/horror film that changed tacks several times.  Made me feel very sad.  At essence, a film about grief.)
  7. Source Code
    (Had a lot of soul for an action film.  Some strange acting though; I wasn’t entirely convinced by Jake Gyllenhaal [and that would be the first time ever.  Goodwin was a good character.  Very interesting film though. Most watchable.)
  8.  Criminal Minds, Season 1
    (Wonderful stuff that went from watchable to unmissable.  Stand out episodes: The Tribe and Riding the Lightning.  Only sort of duds were The Fox and the last episode, the far fetched season finale.  But I love the characters and I love the profiling.  Bit of an obsession at the moment.)
  9.  Criminal Minds Season 2
    (Still excellent despite a slew of substandard melodramatic episodes early in the run: The Boogeyman, North Mammon, Empty Planet.  Those were weird and far fetched, as was the 2 parter involving Reid’s kidnap: The Big Game and Revelations.  It introduced the interesting sub plot that didn’t have much made of it, of Reid having a drug problem…But then there were quite a number of very good indeed episodes – early on P911 was so heartbreaking I had to go away for a few days and watch something else lighter, it was just too horrible.  The Shemar Moore episode Profiler, Profiled finally gave the man backstory, though again, it did tend to get melodramatic. Lessons Learned was very good. )
  10.  Criminal Minds, Season 3
    (Though this season felt a bit odd, it had some very good episodes.  Again, there was a slight tendency to melodrama here and there; and after Mandy Patinkin’s departure they had the team acting as if they couldn’t function well, when I didn’t think that was strictly necessary.  However, some very good episodes – a lot of them being the ones that involved children or innocents in some way: Children of the Dark was heartbreaking and had me in tears; 7 Seconds was windey and worrying, emotional.  In Heat made me cry too – how sad to have to hide who you are in such a basic way; and Tabula Rasa, the killer who didn’t remember…that was an episode begging to be made.  True Night was a silly clichéd stylised episode – but very well shot and very memorable.)
  11. Blue Bloods, Season 1
    (Despite some total and utter cliché about this, and some dreadful cheesiness, its nice to watch an old fashioned cop drama that has an almost Cagney and Lacey feel; and what can go wrong with Tom Selleck about?  The career defining ham cop Donnie Wahlberg is doing is lovely, and Jennifer Esposito is doing something quite laid back and magical as his partner.  Its stooooopid, and mythologizes the idea of being a New York Cop in the ‘Greatest City In The World’ [can you imagine a Londoner going on like that constantly?, no, I didn’t think so…] but very watchable, and some good plots despite some bad episodes.  The stand out one in the first season was early on – Redo, where Erin is attacked, and the one where Tom gets shot…but several thoughtful properly good episodes and lots of pleasing subsidiary characters.)
  12. Lovelace
    (This could have been way more hardhitting than it was.  As a biopic meant to tell both sides of the star of Deep Throat – this was strangely restrained.  Marvellously done 70s atmosphere though.  And excellent performance by the husband character.)
  13. Behind the Candelabra
    (Ooooooooooooo.  Not surprised this one is picking up awards left right and centre.  I didn’t really know much about Liberace at all, but this weird and wonderfully done biopic gave me enough moments of creepy voyeurism to get me interested.  Michael Douglas was scarily scarily good as an extremely camp gay man.  His house was a shiny mausoleum that itself would have made me feel a bit ill [when I went to Russia, I had to leave the Hermitage because all the gold in one place was making me feel a bit sick and overdone; and Liberace’s house reminded me of that].  Matt Damon and the weird kind of love that lets you get your face surgically resculpted to look like your lover was a small triumph of acting.  A very very weird and well done story about a weird and talented man.  HBO is putting out some good stuff lately.)
  14.  Trilogy of Terror (1975)
    (Ahh, the late great Karen Black.
      A portmanteau horror vehicle, made for TV.  The first story was good, and subtle, unusual.  The second was good too – I always like multiple personality stories.  And the last was incredibly stupid which is funny considering the last one is sposed to be the best and the middle one is usually the dud in these films!)
  15.  Criminal Minds, Season 4
    (This season was odd – a lot of it was melodramatic, and beyond implausible.  Dramatic without proper realism – there was also some very clumsy and obvious exposition writing.  However, there were lots of good episodes nonetheless, and a cluster right near the end of the season that were excellent: Omnivore, Conflicted, A Shade of Gray, the Big Wheel, Amplification.  To Hell and Back had a scary animalistic vibe and the noise of pigs was like Evilspeak.  Earlier in the season Minimal Loss, and Pick Up 52 were good.  Pleasure is My Business, also.  A very strange season – the tone was wrong, the writing wasn’t all that in many places, the weakest season so far from a characterisation point of view – yet still hugely addictive.)
  16.  Criminal Minds Season 5
    (Starts absolutely smoking hot! Drama levels high, a whole Hotch story arc going on – his holding in of his emotions just…so well played.  Character development going on for Rossi and Morgan, and Hotch has his arc that affects everything he does.  And the episodes are hard hitting – I did NOT expect his ex wife to get killed in 100, that was gobsmacking.  Also – the violence depiction level is subtly higher.  First 4 eps are noticeably more violent, especially Hopeless – a truly scary episode about violence for the sake of it, because its fun. The Uncanny Valley and Mosley Lane were 2 extremely surreal and disturbing episodes later on. But as the series progressed something became apparent that’s been creeping in ever since the end of series 2 and Mandy Patinkin’s leaving – some of the episodes just sink into a sort of fantasy.  Not in a surreal way, but you can feel the writers thinking, ‘so how can we do serial killers but differently, this week?’, which leads to some very odd stories that break credibility…which is a shame as the stable of regular characters at these points feel strained and less like possible real people, more like pure fictional stereotypes.  Weird.  That a series can be so incredibly good one minute, and so oddly uninvolving the next – and you can never tell when its coming; plus, the good episodes seem to clump together…)
  17.  The Worlds End
    (Last in the Cornetto Trilogy.  Apart from a daft end, I enjoyed this a lot.  It was sci fi, but I think it was really a paean to drinking with your friends, that’s what it was really about.  And it made me laugh quite a bit, especially arguing back to an alien while very drunk, in a very English way.)
  18. When the Lights Went Out
    (Played straight which was quite a nice surprise for a ghost/ poltergeist story.  Based on that famous case I used to read about all the time when I was smaller that wasn’t Borley Rectory, you know – the other one, with the girl who used to get thrown off the bed up in Yorkshire.  Well, this one had almost perfect 1974 period atmosphere and put its money in the right places, i.e. not all on the effects.  Though it felt as if it had had some of its oomph edited away [like Cursed, I remember, famously, a great Joshua Jackson 18 film that got squashed into a tame shitey little 12 film and lost all its spirit].  But some very nice performances. I felt like it could have gone into a bit more detail and been a touch longer and it wouldn’t have hurt it.  I liked it.  Funny, in a gritty English way, too.  7/10 – it was well on its way to be very good and got a little hung up somewhere – the last sequence and ending, for sure [tsk to that], but also the explanation for the poltergeist activity.  Worth it though, enjoyed.)
  19.  Seance: The Summoning
    (Well.  Dear dear.  A good go I spose, but appallingly overly religious and moralistic – right in your face.  The boy doing the demon was confusing because he was extremely attractively ripped and Cajan ish and by far the best character in the film: am I actually supposed to be supporting the demon in a such overtly Christian film?!  Everyone else was a Bible story.  I wish people would stop trying to re do The Exorcist, as it’s never been bettered in either atmosphere or moral tidbits.  I love seance films, which was why I ended up watching this bit of fluff.  Let me give you a recommendation: the best seance film I've ever seen, is a little 80s number called Alison's Birthday, obscure hard to find little Oz made film: brilliant.  Not overdone, good plot, and an ending that makes you go: ooooooooooooooooo and have chills.  Simple simple simple; not like this overdone clot of effects and moralising we have here, sigh.)
  20.  Smashed
    (A very good low key film about an alcoholic who decided to dry up and how it affects her relationship with her very loving but also very drunk husband.  It manages to avoid drama, sentimentality and theatrics – it’s all very understated but quietly effective.  Elizabeth Winstead Jones does very well indeed, as does Aaron Paul as the husband.  And it doesn’t make the mistake of trying to cover all the issues of addiction, just the ones it is concentrating on, so it feels like a good study of those.  It’s a bit of a study of codependancy in some ways, which is a big issue in lots of addictions of all kinds…)

So, there you have it…some stuff I’ve been watching.  I’ve left out some of the absolute cack, and some of the good stuff too, oddly.  Maybe I shall do another post later, with some more.  See you soon, faithful 3 readers!

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