In my quest to become a film critic, the most important thing I’ve found is this: keep watching movies. Whether they’re new releases, older movies you’ve never seen before, or a film you’ve seen a hundred times – just keep watching. Sometimes I find it difficult to motivate myself to watch more movies as often as I can (especially when there’s so much good TV out there at the moment), so I’ve decided to take up Movie March, where I have to watch a movie a day, any movie, and then after each week I’ll summarise them here. New releases count, and so do my old favourites, and hopefully I’ll get into a habit and watch a movie a day for the rest of the year! So to kick off Movie March, here are the last seven films I’ve watched:
1/3: Pushing Dead
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney last week, where I got to see one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in a long time, Pushing Dead. From first time director Tom E. Brown and starring Psych’s James Roday, Pushing Dead is about a man named Dan Schauble who, after receiving a $100 birthday check from his mother, isn’t eligible for his health cover and can’t afford his HIV medication. Roday’s deadpan, sarcastic sense of humour as Dan tries everything to raise the money and get back on his healthcare plan sheds a light on what life is really like with HIV in a world where no-one wants to talk about it, and Brown’s simple yet witty and powerful script makes great use of a manic supporting cast: Danny Glover, Robin Weigart and Tom Riley, just to name a few. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough, with its big belly laugh-antics of Paula, sweet moments as Dan falls in love, and subtle but brilliant ending making it one of my best cinema-going experiences of the year so far.
2/3: The Impossible
I saw this film when it was released back in 2012, and all I can remember is crying the entire way through it. Even though I didn’t cry as much this time, The Impossible is such an emotionally devastating movie, a real-life story based on a family who was separated during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand and tries to find their way back to each other. Naomi Watts is a powerhouse as injured mum Maria, the epitome of struggle and strength as she leads her eldest son Lucas (a young and wonderful Tom Holland) to shelter, and Ewan McGregor’s devoted Dad Henry will stop at nothing to find all of his kids and his wife, searching every hospital in the area in the hopes of reuniting his family. Though director J. A. Bayona’s shots of a devastated Thailand are enough to make your heart sit in your throat, this family’s mission to find each other will catch your breath and sicken your stomach at times, before finally bringing those tears at the very end.
3/3: Logan (review to come)
Oh hell yes, Logan was awesome. This is Hugh Jackman’s ninth and final outing as the Wolverine in a film that truly does the character justice, a gratuitous, bloody, crude affair that sees Logan trek across the country with a debilitated Charles (a very grizzly Patrick Stewart) and a mysterious young girl who has special ties to Logan through her mutant powers, Laura (Dafne Keen). More of a Western than a superhero film, Logan puts the characters and the story first, telling a story of redemption and debilitation, and most importantly, family. But it also has enough headshots and ripped throats to satisfy the hard-core superhero fan, finally allowing Logan to stay true to the comics and be as violent and vulgar as he likes, and ultimately tells a satisfying and heart-wrenching story that is a true send-off for Jackman, and a film that X-Men fans like myself truly deserve.
4/3: Jasper Jones (review to come)
Adapted from the book that’s a classic for high school English students, Jasper Jones tells the story of Charlie Bucktin and the titular Jasper, who find a girl hanged by the river and go on a journey to find out who’s responsible. A classic Australian 1960s whodunnit, Jasper Jones’ strength is ultimately in its recreation of Australian life in the 1960s and its strong coming-of-age themes, leaving the mystery a little undeveloped, seemingly coming out of nowhere towards the end. However, great performances from a star-studded supporting cast of Hugo Weaving as Mad Jack Lionel and Toni Colette as Ruth Bucktin elevate the mediocre mystery to a well-rounded drama, and a shocking ending makes you leave the film on a high.
5/3: Iron Man
Full disclosure, since this is my space: I’d never seen Iron Man before this weekend. But now I have, so don’t lynch me. And it was awesome! The humour was typical of the billionaire-Playboy-philanthropist that I’ve come to love in the other MCU films I know and love, but the serious Middle-Eastern war setting for most of the movie was quite unexpected to me, mixing surprisingly well with the light-hearted tone of its main character. This movie makes me realise why Tony Star is the star of the MU, since Robert Downey Jr. gives such a brilliant performance, not just commanding the screen but allowing Tony to be complex, and occasionally quiet, too. The AC/DC was amazing, Jon Favreau’s direction was superb, Terrence Howard was really fun as Rhodey, and it was just a masterpiece. Now I know what I’ve been missing out on, and I’m sorry.
6/3: Iron Man 2
I was on a roll, and figured, why stop now? Iron Man 2 was obviously not as good as the original, with pacing issues and some cringe-worthy moments, but its development of the MCU cannot be underestimated, giving Nick Fury a bigger role and introducing us to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Even though she wasn’t well developed, her bad-assery cannot be denied, and the action climax towards the end was fun and exciting. But Tony’s character development was the most interesting part to me; his complex relationship with his father and the decline of his arc reactor affecting his health made for a very multi-faceted performance from Downey Jr., who always rises to the occasion, surrounded by a wonderful cast who push him to breaking point, including a memorable villain from Sam Rockwell, an interesting foil in that he’s so similar to Tony. This made the film’s character conflict the highlight, which always makes a superhero movie stand out for me.
7/3: Bridge of Spies
I’ve been putting off watching this for so long, and now I don’t know why I didn’t. Tom Hanks is one of my absolute favourite actors, always bringing both emotion and a little bit of fun to every role he plays, and his New York attorney James Donovan who becomes embroiled in a Cold-War spy exchange is such a whole, human character, flawed but loving and driven to do the right thing. Even though Mark Rylance, in his Oscar-winning turn as Rudolf Abel, the captured and accused Russian spy, steals the show in many of his scenes through his seemingly carefree nature, this is truly Hanks’ film, aided by a gripping script by the Coen Brothers and epic direction by Steven Spielberg, as he braves East Berlin to bring not one, but two captured Americans home. Starting off slow, Bridge of Spies will take your breath in the final act, hoping everything will be okay, and definitely does not disappoint in its heart-warming final scenes.
Well there you have it, my week in film! These weekly round-up posts will go up every week in March, as I watch more films and tell you why I love them. If you have a film that you love and would love me to watch, let me know in the comments and I’ll definitely give them a go!
Photos taken from IMDB.com: