October 2015 Recap

Happy Halloween!!
October didn't quite work out the way I expected. I wanted to work through my backlog of unseen horror films, but a lot of non-horror films were expiring off of Shomi this month so I had to get to those first, and combined with watching through American Horror Story, I only got in a couple of scary movies. And overall, I was once again disappointed with the films I saw this month. I was feeling pretty burned out on films and even the ones I knew were good on a technical level, well, I just couldn't get into them. But I couldn't really give myself a break because so many films I wanted to see were expiring. So, I hope you had a happy Halloween, and keep reading to see how my October went.

First off, a list of the films I saw this month. Titles in italics are those I watched on Fandor, titles in bold are those I watched on Shomi, and titles marked with an * are re-watches.
  •  A Woman Under the Influence
  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
  • Opening Night
  • The Conformist
  • Octopussy
  • Abel's Island (short film)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Far From the Madding Crowd
  • Missing
  • Serena
  • Love & Mercy
  • Watership Down
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Love & Mercy*
  • A View to a Kill
  • The Age of Adaline
  • Clueless*
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • Natural Born Killers
  • Point Break
  • One Hour Photo
  • American History X
  • The Sixth Sense*
  • Hairspray (1988)
  • Batman
  • Batman Returns
  • Pitch Perfect 2 
  • Iris
  • Contact
  • Fire
  • Cinderella (2015)
  • Mad Max
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
  • Psycho*
  • The Fault in Our Stars*
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence*
  • Witness for the Prosecution
  • The Skin I Live In
  • The Cell
  • The Village
  • The Fly
  • Spy
  • The World is Not Enough
  • Die Another Day
Love & Mercy

This film really got to me. I mean, wow. Ex Machina was my #1 for 2015 for months, and while a great movie, it would barely crack my top 15 if it had been released last year. Is 2015 really so much weaker than 2014? And then came Love & Mercy, which... again, I really don't have much more to say than "wow". Granted, it's not perfect; Paul Dano's sections are much stronger than John Cusack's. But when it gets something right, it gets it so right and it's amazing (extra yay for Paul Dano finally getting another great film to shine in, it's been awhile). I highly recommend this to literally everyone; it's going to take some really amazing releases to knock this out of my top 5 for the year.

One Hour Photo

This is another film that really spoke to me. Not since Taxi Driver have I seen a film that so painfully and honestly depicts what extended loneliness and isolation can do to a person. And like Taxi Driver, this really is a one-man show; the story-line and supporting characters are secondary to the powerhouse performance by Robin Williams. I had absolutely no idea he was capable of a performance like this. I still can't think about him being gone without getting upset, but it's comforting to still have so many of his wonderful performances to discover and treasure.   

Batman Returns
 Batman honestly didn't do that much for me, and then came Batman Returns with Michelle Pfeiffer. Oh my god. It doesn't even matter that her Catwoman is less a character and more a series of one-liners because have you ever seen someone have more fun with a role than she does here? There's a few other fun characters but, seriously, they pale by comparison. This is Catwoman's film and it's amazing. 

American History X
I still feel so conflicted about this one. I genuinely enjoyed it, it really is very good, but it's also so heavy-handed that I felt a little cheated by the end. It felt like the writers had a checklist of story beats and kept checking them off, and so many didn't ring true. The biggest one being the scene with Derek's dad, which is meant to be the start of Derek's transformation. Derek seems genuinely surprised by his father's racist beliefs, as if he hadn't ever heard them before. This just doesn't happen. Someone that hateful doesn't hold it in for 15 years. Even people who are just casually racist (spouting off racist stereotypes and things), generally pass these habits onto their children. Someone like Derek's dad would have been instilling this kind of thing into his kids from a young age, and when you see the video of Derek right after his father's death, it's not a stretch for the audience to come to this conclusion on their own. But that wasn't enough, there had to be a "this is how racism is born" scene to tie everything up with a neat bow. There's a lot of scenes like this, and it's disappointing to see them bringing down such an otherwise excellent film (especially Edward Norton's performance-god, I love this guy more with every film of his I see). 
(Also just a disclaimer, racism is definitely a very nuanced subject and I'm not trying to say situations like the one I was discrediting above can never happen. Anything can happen, and if you've experienced something like this than I don't want to invalidate that. But I've also experienced this kind of thing and it did not ring true for me. Take that as you will).

The Skin I Live In
 I think I have to write a separate review for this one, because I have a lot of thoughts but I don't want to include any spoilers here. I'll just say this was one of the best surprises of my year. This film is just so fascinating, and it manages to cover so many complex themes without ever telling you how to feel, instead giving you a lot of things to think about. This is another film I highly recommend-I'd even go a step further and see if you can watch it with a friend or two. I really wished I had seen it with someone else when it was done, it's something you really feel the need to discuss as the credits roll.
Watership Down
 I was obsessed with Watership Down the book as a kid, I read it at least 3 or 4 times (if you've ever seen a hardcover copy of this book in person you'll know this is a big accomplishment). But when I saw the movie, I did not like it. Like many kids, I thought it was scary and disturbing, but more than that, it left out all of my favorite scenes in the book. Re-watching it now, I can appreciate it much better, but throughout my main emotion was still "I need to re-read the book". I kept waiting for favorite scenes and characters from the book that never came. While I can now say with certainty that this is a good film, I wish these resources had instead been put towards a TV miniseries that could have more faithfully adapted the book. 

The Conformist
 This is a movie where I'll really need to to research this time period a bit more before re-watching, because the political aspects of the plot had me so lost. But when a film is this beautiful, who cares if you understand it! Every single shot could be a framed picture on the wall, it's that gorgeous. And these characters really left an imprint on me; even though we don't get to know them that well in the traditional sense, the performances really worm their way into your heart without even needing dialogue, just a look or a touch. Definitely a really special film, and one I'm exited to revisit.

Natural Born Killers
This film is so insane and stylish and man is it so much fun. Sometimes it doesn't matter if something is too blunt or vapid or clever for the sake of it or anything else, it's fun and that's all that matters. That's this film. I don't know what else to say that hasn't already been said, so...
 There you go. That was November. American Horror Story definitely broke my film-watching rhythm, so I'm exited to watch Freak Show and get back into films 100%. And boy will I-my Shomi trial is nearly done, and then it's onto my Netflix trial, which will bring It Follows, White God, The Godfather I/II, Oldboy trilogy, Nolan's Batman trilogy, and lots of other fun things. I also yet again do not have time this November for NaNoWriMo, so instead of a novel, I'm going to try to write at least 25k words for this blog. So you should be seeing a lot more of me. Hope you had a great October, and that we both get to see lots of great films this November :)


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