April 2020 Film Round-Up

Okay about three seconds ago I decided to start a new series on this blog, a monthly series that recaps everything that I watched this month and what I thought about it. Now, it won’t be like a proper WTCR recap where I spend 4 paragraphs talking about “the gorgeous cinematography” or “Michelle Williams’ immaculate performance”, no. It’s going to be very brief because I watch a lot of stuff normally, so there’ll be a lot to get through.

So this is how it’s going to work. I’m going to split my post into “first time watches” and “rewatches”. I’ll be using my Letterboxd diary because I log everything religiously for nerdy statistics reasons, and it’s pretty meticulous. I have no doubt April will be a lot longer than May, because I went through a stage of watching 3 movies a day for a while. Yeah…Miss ‘Rona be doing me like that. I’m not going to specify each movie’s watched date here, but it will be chronological.

I’d like to know if this is something you’d like to see again, but you know I’ll probably do it again regardless because it’s fun and I want to.

So without further ado, let’s journey back all the way to April Fool’s Day (Spoiler Alert: I’m the fool) and you’ll see how I spent my month.

First Time Watches – April 2020

  1. The Way Back (2020) dir. Gavin O’Connor

Pretty impressed with this. Quite run-of-the-mill as sports movies and movies about alcoholics go, but Ben Affleck gives what is perhaps a career-best performance here.

2. Onward (2020) dir. Dan Scanlon

Lacks Pixar’s usual emotionality for me, but tells a fun story for both kids and adults. Quite disappointing for me, if I’m honest.

3. Emma. (2020) dir. Autumn de Wilde

Turns out that Anya Taylor-Joy can’t sustain a film just by being amazing and talented. Was looking forward to this one, but ended up quite underwhelmed.

4. Downhill (2020) dir. Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

I haven’t seen the original, Force Majeure, but I quite enjoyed some of this. Julia-Louis Dreyfus is reliably incredible, but the themes don’t go nearly as hard as they could. Perfectly adequate.

5. Underwater (2020) dir. William Eubank

Honestly just watched for Kristen Stewart. She was pretty good, the production design was nice but the lighting was way too dark and the script way too ordinary to sustain any huge interest.

6. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) dir. Eliza Hittman

You can check out my full review here, where you’ll see that I loved this film and it is absolutely worth your time!

7. Dolittle (2020) dir. Stephen Gaghan

I want to know how much they paid Gaghan for this. A complete misfire on all fronts, even the voice acting from some usually reliable actors. I guess some scripts are totally doomed from the start.

8. Gladiator (2000) dir. Ridley Scott

Yes this was my first time watching this all the way through in one sitting. Pretty good, not as amazing as I expected. Go hate me in the comments, I know I’m right.

9. The English Patient (1996) dir. Anthony Minghella

Surprisingly enjoyed more than I thought I would, even if it was overlong. Enough gorgeous music and framing to keep me heavily invested. Also: JULIETTE BINOCHE!!!!!

10. The Hateful Eight (2015) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Another one I’d not seen all the way through because good lord it’s long. And also insanely average, with the first 20 minutes being the highlights. I usually love ‘bottle episode’ type things, but this just didn’t do it for me. Jennifer Jason Leigh: MVP. Also: Bad Times at the El Royale did it better.

11. Straight Outta Compton (2015) dir. F. Gary Gray

The first half is a deeply engaging story told with a lot of directorial vibrancy. The second half is decidedly less impressive. Great script though.

12. Two Days, One Night (2014) dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Marion Cotillard shines in this paragon of realism from the Dardenne brothers. My first foray into their work, but it certainly won’t be the last!

13. The Judge (2014) dir. David Dobkin

It’s a solid ‘no’ from me. There’s not much to like about this, performances are overwrought, screenplay is shoddy and it all feels a little preachy when it comes down to it.

14. Flight (2012) dir. Robert Zemeckis

Denzel Washington is brilliant in the lead role, but it’s rather uninteresting and can’t sustain its runtime after the initial inciting incident. Love Brian Geraghty in everything though.

15. Braveheart (1995) dir. Mel Gibson

Felt a lot like Gladiator to me, in which it didn’t have enough story to justify its runtime and a vastly overrated lead performance…oops.

16. Forrest Gump (1994) dir. Robert Zemeckis

Another one I’d only seen bits of but not the full thing. Liked it quite a bit, still think it’s too long. Honestly think Gary Sinise is the MVP of this movie, bet that’s an unpopular opinion but he’s truly terrific here.

17. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007) dir. Cristian Mungiu

If you’re after an intense story that hides behind startling tranquility that’s greatly acted and plotted? This is for you!!

18. This Is England (2006) dir. Shane Meadows

Honestly didn’t think this would be my kind of thing, but the writing is top-notch, the performances are breathtaking, and it has one hell of a third act. Can’t wait to watch the series!

19. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) dir. Paul Schrader

Beautiful to point it risked being unaccessible. Exceptional writing and the score…my god even if you don’t watch this movie just track down the score, it’s absolutely sublime.

20. Unforgiven (1992) dir. Clint Eastwood

One of the better Eastwood films, with great writing, fantastic cinematography, and a Gene Hackman performance that’s every bit as good as you would expect from him.

21. Driving Miss Daisy (1989) dir. Bruce Beresford

Perhaps the most predictable film I’ve ever seen. And if you know me you know how hard it is for me to say this but…Green Book was a lot better. Yeah. I know. I can’t believe it either.

22. Rain Man (1988) dir. Barry Levinson

Pretty good in a lot of places, but didn’t bring the emotion I was expecting from this until the end. Cruise’s Charlie is just thoroughly unlikeable and you rarely get a break from his incessant whining which ruined it a lot for me.

23. The Last Emperor (1987) dir. Bernardo Bertolucci

Incredibly captivating but so so long. Beautifully shot and written, but so content to bask in its own pretentious triumph that it often overlooks its shortcomings just so it can show off some more.

24. Spirited Away (2001) dir. Hayao Miyazaki

Oh my god I adored this. Anime usually doesn’t capture me as much as other animation styles, but this story and the world building are too luscious to ignore. Perhaps there’s too much to absorb on a first viewing, but it definitely invites you back for more. This film is everything.

25. Chungking Express (1994) dir. Wong Kar-Wai

It’s Wong Kar-Wai, of course I loved this. Not quite as much as In The Mood For Love, but repeat viewings could contest that. The second half is just so lovely to watch and the way it moves is so alluring.

26. Close-Up (1990) dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Oh I loved this. So inventive in its storytelling devices and so truthfully acted and one of my favourite courtroom sequences for sure. A must-watch!

27. A Bug’s Life (1998) dir. John Lasseter

Yeah it’s absolutely fine and even a little smart in places, but it’s just not as emotionally engaging as other Pixar movies (okay I watched the first two Toy Story movies either side of this and both were miles and miles better).

28. The Last Full Measure (2020) dir. Todd Robinson

Admittedly watched this for Sebastian Stan, but I didn’t realise how stacked the rest of the cast was. Most were thoroughly disappointing as was the story. Dual timelines did not work and the result was well-intentioned but tedious.

29. Bad Education (2020) dir. Cory Finley

After Thoroughbreds, I was interested in what Finley could bring to this script and his direction is great. The script is great and so are the performances. But…something about it just didn’t grasp me. I don’t think I loved the actual story contained within the beautiful writing. Hello to scene-stealer Rafael Casal though!

30. Misbehaviour (2020) dir. Philippa Lowthorpe

Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley shouting about taking down the patriarchy? You bet I loved this.

31. The Lodge (2020) dir. Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Riley Keough was in this for more than 15 minutes and showed exactly what she can do with a great character, a tight script, and the right amount of screentime. Keep this in mind, Hollywood! She’s one of your best right now. NOTICE HER!

32. The Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967) dir. Jacques Demy

Sublime filmmaking in every way, hit me like a bullet train with beautiful dialogue and lyrics. The choreography is incredible as usual with Demy and Catherine Deneuve is just so compelling to watch.

33. Victoria (2015) dir. Sebastian Schipper

The famous ‘one-take movie’ from 2015, I enjoyed enough but 24 hours later I found myself not thinking too kindly about. Laia Costa is great but honestly a waste of some fine potential in its execution with a dull, slow story, uninspired characters, and amateur improvisation.

So there we go! 33 new movies in 30 days! Some pretty great, most not very. Below I will list the films that I rewatched this month without comments because otherwise I really would be here for days.

Films I Rewatched This Month

  • The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012) dir. Stephen Chbosky
  • Black Swan (2010) dir. Darren Aronofsky
  • 1917 (2019) dir. Sam Mendes
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) dir. Céline Sciamma
  • All About Nina (2018) dir. Eva Vives
  • Searching (2018) dir. Aneesh Chaganty
  • Columbus (2017) dir. Kogonada
  • Lady Bird (2017) dir. Greta Gerwig
  • Leave No Trace (2018) dir. Debra Granik
  • The Room (2003) dir. Tommy Wiseau
  • The Book of Henry (2017) dir. Colin Trevorrow
  • Life Itself (2018) dir. Dan Fogelman
  • Schindler’s List (1993) dir. Steven Spielberg
  • Honey Boy (2019) dir. Alma Har’el
  • Jojo Rabbit (2019) dir. Taika Waititi
  • The Irishman (2019) dir. Martin Scorsese
  • Knives Out (2019) dir. Rian Johnson
  • Gone Girl (2014) dir. David Fincher
  • Toy Story (1995) dir. John Lasseter
  • Toy Story 2 (1999) dir. John Lasseter
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) dir. Marc Webb
  • Waves (2019) dir. Trey Edward Shults
  • The Social Network (2010) dir. David Fincher
  • La La Land (2016) dir. Damien Chazelle
  • Phantom Thread (2017) dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019) dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
  • Arrival (2016) dir. Denis Villeneuve

Including rewatches that’s 60 films this month! And that’s not including a bunch of shorts! And I watched some TV too. I guess I have too much time on my hands…don’t we all! Not sure it’ll be this crazy in May but who knows?

Anyway, do I have taste? Do I watch too many movies? Let me know as always in the comments or on Twitter. I also do script editing/proofreading if anyone has anything they want appraised?

This will be back at the end of the May (probably including another 17 watches of La La Land, but what else is new?). Hopefully have some other stuff posted, including the second instalment of my director’s series featuring a highly divisive auteur!

As always, stay inside and stay safe everyone!

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