An Update: Films Watched in February and March

Yeah I haven’t been keeping great tabs on this here update thing. Here’s a list of all the films I watched in February and March with awards. It’s April already? Geeze.

FEBRUARY

21. 2/2 – Wake in Fright* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067541/
22. 2/2 – The House of the Devil* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1172994/
23. 2/3 – Time of the Wolf* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0324197/
24. 2/3 – Long Weekend (1978)* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079482/
25. 2/5 – The House of the Devil – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1172994/
26. 2/6 – In the Loop – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1226774/
27. 2/9 – Romeo and Juliet (1936)* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028203/
28. 2/13 – The Burrowers* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0445939/
29. 2/14 – The Killing of a Chinese Bookie* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074749/
30. 2/14 – Broken Flowers* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0412019/
31. 2/16 – Romeo and Juliet (1968) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063518/
32. 2/17 – Revanche* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1173745/
33. 2/19 – Hunger* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0986233/
34. 2/20 – The Long Good Friday* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081070/
35. 2/24 – Crazy Heart* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1263670/
36. 2/25 – A Prophet* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235166/
37. 2/25 – Nine* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0875034/
38. 2/26 – The Crazies (1973) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069895/
39. 2/27 – Shutter Island* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1130884/

Best film (new viewing): A Prophet
Yes, I fell in love with The House of the Devil and both Revanche and Hunger blew me away in a period of three days, but A Prophet was the film that stood out among my new viewings. It’s a stunning character study film centered around a jailed individual and his rise from nothing to something inside prison. It’s a film full of subtle nuances and pays absolute attention to detail. I really wanted Jacques Audiard to win best foreign language film for A Prophet at March’s Oscars, but so be it.
Runners-up: The House of the Devil, Revanche, Hunger, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

Best film (repeated viewing): In the Loop
Duh. One of my absolute favorite films of 2009 was an easy choice here. But to be fair, it didn’t have super stiff competition, as it only went up against Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (a class assigned viewing) and George A. Romero’s The Crazies (a very good infection film before 28 Days Later was the hot thing). But yeah, if you don’t know my opinion on In the Loop already, just search my blog for it. That or go watch one of the most missed comedies of 2009.
Runner-up: The Crazies.

Most surprising film: Wake in Fright
After watching the Not Quite Hollywood documentary about Australian “ozploitation” films, I got the hankering for some of the actual films. One that caught my eye in the documentary was Wake in Fright. I expected a good time, but I certainly didn’t expect an actually profound and meaningful film. Wake in Fright was a bit cheesy and absolutely hilarious, but the film is an absolute trip into outback hell. I can’t even really explain it. It’s something better served to yourself. Check it out.
Runners-up: Long Weekend, The Long Good Friday.

Most underrated film: The House of the Devil
One of my favorite horror films in a long time, Ti West’s The House of the Devil was an exercise in subtle, slow and classic horror that channeled the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski, among the other talents making genre pictures in the 1960’s. The content though was straight 1980’s, as was the production of the film. Give this film to someone who is unfamiliar with it and they wouldn’t think it was made a year ago. That’s how authentic to the era it looks.
Runners-up: The Crazies, In the Loop, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

MARCH

40. 3/2 – Spellbound* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038109/
41. 3/3 – The Five Obstructions* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0354575/
42. 3/4 – Repulsion* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059646/
43. 3/9 – Climates* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0498097/
44. 3/10 – An American Werewolf in London* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082010/
45. 3/14 – Walkabout* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067959/
46. 3/16 – Read My Lips* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274117/
47. 3/19 – Taking Woodstock* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1127896/
48. 3/27 – A Serious Man – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1019452/
49. 3/27 – The Informant! – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1130080/
50. 3/27 – Me and Orson Welles* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1175506/
51. 3/30 – Othello (1952)* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045251/
52. 3/30 – Survival of the Dead* – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1134854/

Best film (new viewing): Spellbound
Alfred Hitchcock teamed up with Salvador Dali on dream sequences in what might be one of Hitch’s best films ever. Dali helped make the film remarkably memorable for the patient dream sequences towards the end of the film. But the rest of the story is Hitchcock being Hitchcock, creating tension and suspense between characters like no one else could.
Runners-up: Walkabout, Repulsion, Read My Lips, Climates.

Best film (repeated viewing): A Serious Man
The Coen Bros’ latest film is something I wish could have gotten more press and buzz during awards season. Some people say I’m wrong when I call this absolutely hilarious, but I’m not sure why. Sure, it’s a terribly dark comedy, but I like that sort of thing. I’m pretty sure the Coens’ intentions was to make this a laughing riot. It worked for me. Michael Stuhlbarg was one of the most snubbed actors this year along with Viggo Mortensen (The Road).
Runner-up: The Informant!

Most surprising film: Me and Orson Welles
And I tell you why. Zac Efron can actually act. His portrayal of the youngster who gets intertwined with an Orson Welles stage production isn’t perfect and it isn’t the best, but it is promising and it is the kind of performance that he needed to help him get out of the Disney Channel stigma so many young actors that find fame early fall prey to. I’m not saying this kid is going to win awards, but don’t be shocked if he is in contention someone in his future. He has a long acting life to live if he can prove to not be typecasted.  Otherwise, the film itself isn’t bad. Christian McKay does the difficult thing and pulls off a good Orson Welles performance, something that will certainly help him get future roles.
Runners-up: The Five Obstructions, Othello, Walkabout.

Most underrated film: Survival of the Dead
Really because I just want to talk about George A. Romero’s latest zombie film. Okay, I know the old man has gotten some negative criticism ever since Land of the Dead and (especially) Diary of the Dead. But hey, I didn’t think those two films were so bad. They were still smart films filled with at least some semblance of social commentary. Sure, neither of them were close to his first three zombie masterpieces, but who cares? They’re still worlds better than most (but not all) modern zombie films. And Survival of the Dead, taking place just after Diary of the Dead, improves on Romero’s last film. Here he pits two families off in an argument about whether the zombies should be killed or left alive in hope of a cure (remember, this is only six days after the initial outbreak and supposedly around the time Night of the Living Dead took place — just with our technology). This creates a good conflict and Romero ignites it with the inclusion of a National Guard group looking for safety. It’s not great, but it isn’t bad. He certainly has lost the magic touch that made his first three (and other feature films) so good, but he hasn’t lost it all.
Runners-up: Walkabout, Repulsion.

Good. Now that this is out of the way, maybe I can return to doing DVD picks of the week.


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