96 – Snow White & the Huntsman:
So here’s the first fantasy film on my list. And I assure you, it will be the first of many. I make no secret of the fact that I love the fantasy genre, even though I’ll admit it’s an acquired taste for many. Fantasy as a genre is a lot like comedy, in the sense that it’s often looked down on. When the awards come around, fantasy usually gets nominations in the technical categories and that’s about it. I can recall talking films in a group a few months ago and one guy took special time to wrinkle his nose and say to me “I bet Lord of the Rings is your favourite movie” in a tone that suggested I should feel the greatest shame. I can see where some of the snobbery comes from. After all there are plenty of fantasy features out there that exchange plot and characterisation for CGI effects and mindless action scenes. But to argue the opposite, there are just as many Oscar Bait dramas out there that exchange good story telling for failsafe tactics to nab as many awards as possible. So personally I always look forward to seeing if a director can try to build an interesting world and really show off his or her imagination in a fantasy film. And if they succeed then you can be sure I’ll praise them for it. So I don’t think I need to tell y’all what I think of Rupert Sanders’s Snow White & the Huntsman.
97 – Seeking A Friend For The End of the World:
I don’t know what it is but I have a weird thing about comedies. When I was going through the first list of 100 films, I kept going on about how much I didn’t like them. While I am more likely to roll my eyes at a slapstick comedy’s trailer, I’m much more open to them these days. I didn’t realise I’d been in something called the Comedy Ghetto – where comedy in general is seen as an inferior form of entertainment. Given that there are plenty of comedies on my list, it’s safe to say I’m not in the Ghetto anymore. American Beauty advertised itself with the tag line ‘if you think a comedy can’t be moving, look closer’ – and that’s exactly what I’ve chosen to do with Lorene Scarfia’s directorial debut.
98 – Rope:
Mention ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ among film buffs and what usually happens? There’s a lot of the slow nodding and that ooh-ing and ah-ing of appreciation. The name Hitchcock is almost synonymous with eerie respect. He was a filmmaker that was, by all accounts, quite unnerving to work with. If one watches his films, that shouldn’t be surprising. In his heyday, he was thought of as only an entertainer, rather than the respected director he is today. But what’s not surprising is the intense amount of work and innovation that went into each of his films. The surprise may come from the experiment he tried with today’s piece. Based on a British play with the same name, Rope was Hitchcock’s attempt at replicating theatre on the big screen. He wanted a film to unravel completely without any cuts. While the technology of the time didn’t allow for such a thing, it didn’t stop Hitch from trying. Let’s get started then, shall we?
Number 99 – Hard Candy
Definition 1 – “an underage girl – often aged 12 to 16 – who is particularly attractive and/or gullible”
Definition 2 – “a sugar candy, called so because it becomes stiff and brittle once it approaches room temperature”
Okay now that we have our two main definitions of the phrase, have a guess which one today’s movie will cover. If you don’t feel like guessing, I’ll explain where the inspiration for the story came from. There was apparently a series of reported incidents in Japan – where schoolgirls would track down older businessmen suspected of child abuse. They would then lure them to meet in public, only to ambush them with a gang. As the film was to deal with some very mature and controversial themes, the budget was kept as tight as possible to keep studio interference to a minimum. Funded with a measly $950,000 and shot in the director’s house, the film ended up grossing $7 million altogether. It also helped launch the careers of its two leads – Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page. So let’s play a game of cat and mouse, shall we?
So a few years ago I first started blogging with an idea of mine called ‘100 Days, 100 Films’ – where I made a list of my Top 100 films, watched one every day and would put up a review the day after. I got through all one hundred of them – and the reviews are utterly cringe worthy to read. Back then I had zero clue what I was doing or talking about. However I still think there’s something to the idea.
Avatar was a pop culture sensation that came out seven years ago. It was the film everyone was talking about. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing something Avatar-related. James Cameron first got the idea for it as far back as the mid-90s. However the technology required to create Pandora wasn’t quite as advanced at the time – and the project was shelved for years. After the success of the Lord of the Rings films, Cameron was convinced that the technology was finally up to speed. Avatar was shot mainly on a digital backlot against blue and green screen effects – with about 40% done in live action. Thus a huge portion of the hype came from this innovative way of shooting. And a lot of the criticism came from the accused shallowness of the main story. So let’s hop right in then.
Happy New Year to everyone out there in Internet land! I trust everyone had fun ringing in 2016 in their own special way. My way of ringing in the New Year is by paying tribute to the place that was probably my third or fourth home in 2015: the cinema. I think this year I may have clocked some kind of personal record for the amount of films I saw. There was one point in Autumn where I was actually going every week. Thankfully the films I did see had a wide range of diversity – Oscar-winning dramas, mellow Slice of Life comedies, Biblical epics, sci-fi blockbusters, campy superhero movies, big budget fantasy adventures and even the occasional Disney flick. Since y’all know I love rating things out of ten, here’s a low-down of the films I was lucky (and sometimes not-so-lucky) to watch on the silver screen.