Worth Watching January 2011

Worth Watching:

  •  Murphy’s Law Series 1 (2003, pilot 2001), Colin Bateman – British crime series in which the very first scene of the first episode is to the sound of a Gorillaz track, which is a big plus. Smart, wryly funny scripts and James Nesbitt in good form maintain the interest.
  • 24 Season 8 (2010), Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran – This final season of one of my all time favourite shows starts slowly with a lesser cast than other series. But this is still 24, with Jack Bauer so for me, definitely worth watching. The second half turns it into one of the most, if not the most intense of all seasons as Bauer goes on a bloody vendetta.
  • The Book of Eli (2010), Albert Hughes – Some lazy characterisation has opened up the film for simplistic readings, but I think the film is infinitely interesting. The film is boosted by some exhilaratingly shot action sequences and Denzel being his usual awesome self. Mila Kunis initially lacks gravitas but grows into her major role as the film goes on.
  • The Green Zone (2010), Paul Greengrass – Poorly marketed Damon/Greengrass film that slipped under the radar, unfortunate cause it’s close to the best film on the Iraq war yet. Mainstream American filmmaking at it’s best. A war thriller about a man’s commitment to a cause, and his right to question it.
  • The Tourist (2010), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – Only von Donnersmarck will know why he followed his powerful best foreign flick Oscar winner with this light piece. But the good news is it’s much much better than you’ve been told. Won’t change your life, most films won’t, but will pass an arvo entertainingly. Timothy Dalton, fantastic in a small role, makes you wish he worked more.
  • A Single Man (2009), Tom Ford – This day in the life of a man who feels he has nothing to live for is a pretty special piece of work. Colin Firth delivers his best performance, and first time (but hopefully not last) director Tom Ford brings his fashion industry honed eye to bear on this film which is both beautiful and interesting to look at.
  • Jonah Hex (2010), Jimmy Hayward – One of the most maligned films of the past couple of years, I think is worth a look… just. Preferably half-watching with a beer or two and good company. It’s good, stupid neo-Western fun.
  • The Hurt Locker (2008), Kathryn Bigelow – Yep, this is worth a look. It’s a very well made, gritty war film with some nice doco-stylings and slow-mo stuff going on. But in my opinion its status amongst films from the past 18 months is overstated – it’s overhyped and at times a bit obvious.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Alfred Hitchcock – An incredible ensemble cast (including Peter Lorre’s first English speaking role) deliver an initially stagey but overall really intriguing espionage thriller. And possibly the most awesome chair fight ever committed to film.
  • Space Jam (1996), Joe Pytka – It’s hard to botch a family film with ready-made characters as good as The Looney Tunes (been done before though). This amusing film is greatly enhanced by Michael Jordan’s willingness to mock his own baseball career, and some brilliant sequences involving Charles Barkley & other NBA superstars as they struggle to cope with the loss of their athletic prowess.
  • Unstoppable (2010), Tony Scott – This is pretty standard action fare. But as far as standard action fare goes, this is really enjoyable. Exciting, tense and featuring an interesting central odd couple. Nice to see no one phoning it in, with good performances all round, the excellent Rosario Dawson the pick of them.
  • Morning Glory (2010), Roger Michell – Well judged and funny Saturday afternoon fluff. Like the above shows the value of good performances in this kind of film, with Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams taking the honours in this one.

Not Worth Watching:

  • The Haunted House (1921), Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton – I never thought I could dislike a Keaton film. But this short is tiresome & incomprehensible. Set mainly in a bank – not even Keaton can make that funny.
  • Salt (2010), Phillip Noyce – Lovin the return to old school spy film norms, double agents and the Russians are even the bad guys. But a cool first half descends into silly twistathon of a second half. Good thrillers require suspension of belief and a good twist, but not too much, which this has.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Mike Newell – It aims for Indiana Jones for a video game generation, and it fails totally. No texture, doesn’t look real and shows exactly how special effects should not be used. Mind numbingly bad.

If you only have time to watch one The Green-Zone

Avoid at all costs Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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