Monday, 14 May 2012

My Week in Film: May 14, 2012

Re-instating My Week in Film & getting back to my roots.

Planning, planning, planning

My Week in Film Returns!
Okay , so that picture doesn't have any films in it... but it was part of what set in motion the events to bring this post series (back) to life. I've been thinking a lot about this site, how its grown over the years and what I consider truly essential to the site. When I thinking about that I realize that one piece fell off the board at some point, which was simply sharing something about the films I've seen, the experience of watching film and film culture. It may crop up here and there but its home was rooted in My Week in Film post (* see history below). And I've decided to bring it back, because roots are good. I like roots. They keep me grounded, and I could really use that right now so here we go, back into the root-fold!

I love that irony in the fact that I am bringing this column back when I haven't seen any new releases. Maybe I had this big realization because I had time to think when I wasn't at the theatre all the time! The mind works in mysterious ways. Although I didn't see any new theatrical releases, I did get a chance to tackle the first film in the Bondathon with Dr. No and also caught up with 2 Owned/Unseen list films, which I'm very happy about as it's May and I've barely made any progress there this year so far. But first, let's have a look at Mr. Bond.

Bondathon Film #1: Dr. No
Wow, great way to start the Bondathon as re-visiting Dr. No I realized I quite like this one. I was particularly in love with the art direction and lighting (yes, I know that's odd given all the possible things to love), but also was so impressed by the fact that so many quintessential Bond elements are present from the very beginning. How he says his name, the quintessential drink, the worldly travel, the high-society living, a great villain; all of these are strong elements in the world of Bond and are firmly cemented here. That was wild to see. I was also impressed but the espionage elements in the film, not only active but also proactive and preventative, and the strong awareness of danger/deception but not letting that shake him. That's confidence for you! Overall, I'm ranking this one pretty high. Oh, I guess I should rank them. I'll have to remember to do that. Dr. No was definitely a strong start to The Bondathon and I'm so happy it's begun!
See also: Bondathon: Dr. No Vlog and the Bondathon Post with Film Schedule here

Owned/Unseen: Drive Angry & Hitman
Ah, the Owned/Seen pile gets 2 films shorted with viewing both Drive Angry and Hitman. Let's start with Drive Angry; I really wanted to see it in the theatre due to the over the top attitude, supernatural feel and awesome casting (I'm huge Billy Burke fan - he plays Charlie, Bella's dad, in Twilight). On top of that several people I know have seen and loved the film so I thought this was going to be a sure fire win. I'll admit - there is a lot of craziness in there, Nicolas Cage doing the awesome over the top thing, William Fichtner is incredible as the big-attitude, smart mouth, kick-butt guy, Billy Burke is also great as the crazy villain and Amber Heard also kicks some serious butt. There is lots of violence, in almost all ways, and it's usually stylized and over-the-top and often played with dark comedy in mind. I understand that, but I was completely thrown out of the film for the repeated gratuitous nudity - which made me IMDB the film to reveal that ah, yes, it's the same director as the My Bloody Valentine re-make, a film that created a new level to gratuitous nudity. I just find it boring, and ridiculous, and it throws me out of the film. It's too bad, because there are a fair amount of great things in Drive Angry, but I likely won't even re-watch it now because of this as it makes it a film where I could have been the target audience and let's me know that really I'm not. Quite the disappointment.

Oddly, a lot of the same themes of gratuitous nudity and violence carry over to Hitman, although my reasoning for seeing Hitman is very different. I don't remember if I wanted to see it initially (hard to tell, it came out during Reel Asian in 2007 so I was busy that week), but I wanted to see it as the film came to me at a strong, and repeated, recommendation from my Mom. And that just floored me. Any time it was on TV she'd call me and let me know - and I'd check with her that it's the one about a hitman, based on the video game, protagonist with shaven head, and yep, yep, yep that's the one. Wild. So I watched it and I was floored by the supporting cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Robert Knepper and Henry Ian Cusick? Seriously? Wow. And I enjoyed them in the film, along with Timothy Olyphant whom I like in pretty much everything he does, but I couldn't get over the fact that is character was a hit man, yet you could easily pick him out of a crowd with that shiny head. Seriously. There is no being incognito there. I would assume that's to continue the stylization from the game, but I couldn't believe that he wouldn't garner way too much attention. There was also some pretty disturbing torture in the film, although that may only be on the Unrated DVD version I had. But as a stylized action film with a different twist and setting for a film, I felt it was actually pretty entertaining - often ridiculous and over the top, but entertaining nonetheless and for that I would likely re-watch it. I never thought that out of Drive Angry and Hitman the one I would enjoy more would be Hitman, but it is.

The thing with watching owned/unseen films is that they are often impulse buys, or add-ons for free shipping, or I so-great-a-deal-I-can-buy-it-from-my-change-purse kind of deals. When that's the case, I give the film a little more leeway as my expectations are lower, but in this case I actually was truly interested (or at least curious) in the films, so not loving them stings a little bit. Especially Drive Angry. But, seeing these 2 films brings me up to 3/20 on my Owned/Unseen Challenge. YAY for progress!
See also: 2012 Owned/Unseen List and Week in Film vlog chatting Drive Angry & Hitman

* A Brief History of My Week in Film at Movie Moxie
Week in Film Vlog previously stopped when I started the Movie Moxie Podcast, and My Week in Film written posts previously stopped when I started vlogging instead (my last written post for Week in Film was way back in 2009 with a last push at watching Oscar nominees). One of the reasons I love having a blog is that I can go back and find out why I did something, or at least find a clue. The answer may not always be obvious and sometimes I don't get an answer, but it can often jog my memory enough to remember why I made a decision. That being say, I'm bringing My Week in Film back, and sharing it in multiple formats: written posts like here, vlogs and also audio version on The Movie Moxie Podcast. See this weeks Week in Film Vlog here.

It's wild to see things come full circle, or maybe even in this case, full spiral as I've chosen to do what I'm doing now, plus add back things I've done before.

That's it for this weeks My Week in Film! I'm hoping to get out to The Avengers and I *have* to get out to Dark Shadows this week, so hopefully I'll be checking in on those with you next week with continuing the Bondathon with From Russia with Love and starting to work through the Alien films in anticipation for Prometheus.

Bondathon starts strong with Dr. No

Tackling the Owned/Unseen Pile

Happily returning to vlogging

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