Worth Watching February 2014

February was a much, much quieter film watching month for me. I think I only got to the cinema twice throughout the whole month actually. This is also one of those lame months (possibly only the second ever) where there was nothing I didn’t consider ‘not worth watching. So no rants here unfortunately. But it does mean you get a second highly recommended flick.

Worth Watching:

  • An Original Duckumentary (2012), Ann Johnson Prum – This doco on ducks, awesomely narrated by Paul Giamatti, just popped up on my TV randomly. More than just a killer name, this was incredibly informative too and the variety of ducks and the adaptations they have made to survive was all really new information to me. Definitely recommended for any big animal/nature lovers out there.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), Joel & Ethan Coen – I have not always been the biggest fan of the Coens’ films, but this one connected with me. I have been a big fan of Oscar Isaac since Balibo (2009) and he is great here. The amazing Casey Mulligan is even better. This is both a very specific film – a portrait of the Dylan era Gaslight folk scene; and a universal one – we all have to find our way and grapple with our true calling. Hopefully to a soundtrack as good as this too.

llewyn poster

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), Justin Chadwick – I think this film has been a touch unfairly maligned. It is very hard to reduce any life to 140 minutes, let along that of one of the greatest transformative figures of the 20th Century, but they do a good job. Perhaps it’s my ignorance, but I for one learned things from this film. Surprisingly, I also didn’t feel like the film deified Mandela. At times he looks weak or even selfish. Yeah it is sometimes a bit biopic by the numbers. But when the numbers belong to Mandela and they are brought to life through wonderful performances by Naomi Harris and especially Idris Elba, that ain’t so bad.
  • Twister (1996), Jan de Bont – I watched this following the passing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and I am really glad I did. It still holds up as a blockbuster action pic. The effects are incredible for its time (actually still incredible by today’s standards). In addition to Hoffman, Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt lead a great ensemble. It is so nice to see Hoffman in such a joy-filled performance. “Loser! Move on” may be the greatest line of his career.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Mike Newell – The quidditch World Cup gives this a cool, lighter start than the norm. The effects, which are put to world-building use, are very good. In fact all the sets are perfect, as is the inclusion of the mighty Brendan Gleeson. His character is wonderfully unhinged. There is some unnecessarily forced tension between Ron and Harry which is an annoyance which reflects a story that is perhaps not as focused and direct as it could be. But the script is good at tinging the film with humour and capturing teen angst in a fantastical setting nicely. Another good entry into the series.
  • 1 (2013), Paul Crowder – Way to make your film nice and easy to google. I have never been all that invested in F1, but even I found this doco worthwhile. The footage chosen conveys the speed and intensity of the pursuit. The film examines the place and acceptability of death in the sport. There is a focus on safety and life and death aspects of the sport rather than it being a comprehensive historical document. Some of the fatal crashes that you are bombarded with are exceptionally confronting. And the strong involvement of Bernie Ecclestone and friends does make the objectivity of the film rather questionable. Despite all that, still a more than sharp enough doco experience.  

If you only have time to watch one Inside Llewyn Davis

If you only have time to watch two Twister

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18 responses

  1. great job Tim!. I loved Twister. Mandela and ILD were both ok. haven’t seen either of the documentaries you suggest. I gotta re-watch all those HP’s one of these days!

    1. This is my first time through the Harry Potter films and have enjoyed most of them so far (I think the third was the only one I deemed not worth watching). Cheers for your comments. Glad to hear you are a Twister fan as well.

  2. Some good films here mate. Glad you liked Inside Llewyn Davies, big fan of that one. Glad Twister holds up, that was one of my favourite films when I was younger! And I agree about Mandela. It was actually alright, just far too much material to fit into one film. Would have worked better as a mini series.

    1. Yeah I get where you are coming from on the amount of material they had to try and cram into Mandela. I think the fact my expectations were lowered by most other people being disappointed with the film helped me to enjoy it more. You should revisit Twister man. I think it still holds up really well (surprisingly even the effects).

  3. I haven’t seen 1 or An Original Dockumentary, but I basically agree on the others. You know I love Llewyn Davis.

    I don’t love Twister or the Harry Potter, but I also don’t think they’re awful. Mandela isn’t great either, but I agree it is has been somewhat unfairly maligned. I think it above average, largely because of some tremendous performances.

    1. Yeah those two lead performances in the Mandela film are pretty exceptional. Glad to hear you really liked Llewyn Davis as well. Was a pleasant surprise for me because I have not always loved the Coen Bros work.

  4. Seems that even though it was a slow month, it was a good one. Big fan of the HP saga, and I loved Llewyn Davis. Agree on Carey Mulligan being a highlight of that one.

    1. Cheers for commenting Fernando. Mulligan is choosing some great roles recently. Just like Llewyn Davis, I kinda wish she was featured a little more in Drive and Shame as well.

      1. I completely agree. Superb in both roles and deserved more screentime.

  5. Ah ha, someone else who had a positive response to Inside Llewyn Davis! I talked to a friend of mine about it a few days ago and his review was so, so harsh. He called the musical performances “forgettable.” Ugh. Those songs, especially the version of “Fare Thee Well” at the end of the film, have really stayed with me.

    Twister and Goblet of Fire are highly entertaining. I grew up being a massive fan of Harry Potter – I used to reread whichever book was about to be released as a movie just so that I could nitpick all the details changed or left out of the adaptation – but Goblet of Fire works pretty well. Even some of the weirder aspects, like that “Magic Works” song and the presence of Robert Pattinson, are sort of enjoyable.

    1. I haven’t heard too many people disliking Lleywn Davis. I definitely did not find the musical performances forgettable at all. But I think that even if I did, I would still have found a lot to really like about the film. Don’t think appreciating it is contingent on buying into the tunes.

      Glad to hear you are a Twister and Harry Potter fan. Do you have a favourite of the HP films?

      1. It’s hard to say. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was a great way to end the series and felt very true to the book, but I have a particular sentimental attachment to the first film as well. There was something really wonderful about being a kid and discovering the magic of the books, then seeing the first film with all those talented child actors who were around my age.

  6. All good films Tim, although I haven’t seen Goblet of Fire. Or 1. Or Original Duckumentary. They all sound good. Lol. ‘1’ might be #1 on my list, as I quite like the sport of F1 racing. So intense. Prob helped me enjoy Ron Howard’s Rush that much more.

    1. If you are a F1 fan, then you should definitely try and get your hands on 1 man. Don’t think you will be disappointed.

  7. Great list here!

  8. I like the sound of Duckumentary!! Hmm… Wasn’t a huge fan of Inside Llewyn Davis. Nice reviews. : )

    1. Could I ask what you didn’t like about Llewyn?

      You should check Duckumentary out if you get the chance. Twas really good stuff.

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