Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What I Watched - June 16-22 2014

Note: A busy week of movie watching, including three more entries in Tune in June, a number of documentaries and plenty of Netflix viewing (after being without Netflix for a month or so I've been catching up).

WHAT I WATCHED - June 16-22:

Eyes of the Mothman (2011) Netflix
- Documentary about the Mothman legend of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, made famous by the 2002 Richard Gere movie, Mothman Prophecies. Fairly interesting, with a lot of interviews with local townsfolk, college professors and the like. Definitely worth watching if you're interested in unexplained phenomena, whether you're a believer or a sceptic.

Cashback (2006) Netflix
-  With a concept like this (guy learns how to stop time while working late nights at a supermarket), the easy route would be to turn it into a teen comedy full of toilet humour. Instead English director/writer Sean Ellis crafts a funny-but-heartfelt romantic comedy full of fantastic acting performances, particularly from leads Sean Biggerstaff (HARRY POTTER movies) and Emilia Fox. Yes, there is plenty of nudity, but it is handled in a smart way, while leaving room for plenty of humorous moments.

Open Season 2 (2008) Netflix
- Father-son movie night. I haven't seen the first movie, but this one was adequate enough and my son enjoyed it (to be honest there's not much animated that he doesn't like). The highlight was the little creature voiced by Scottish comedian Billy Connelly.

TUNE IN JUNE: Condor (1986) Netflix
- See full review here.

TUNE IN JUNE: Time Trax (1986) VHS
- See full review here.

Of Two Minds (2012) Netflix
- Documentary about bi-polar disorder, focusing on several individuals with it. Doesn't go too much into the science, instead shining the spotlight on what it's like to live with mental illness, both for the sufferers and their family and friends. A decent enough time waster.
Only God Forgives (2013) Netflix
- I'm a huge fan of Drive, so when I heard that director Nicolas Winding-Refn and star Ryan Gosling were getting back together to make another movie, I was excited. Unfortunately I was disappointed by Only God Forgives. I wanted to like it, I really did. But what was great about Drive (long periods of contemplative, beautifully-shot scenes mixed with brief moments of intense violence) comes off here as over-indulgent. The Thailand setting is refreshing, and Gosling continues to be badass, but Only God Forgives seems to be trying too hard and falls short.

Madhouse (2004) Netflix
- A horror movie set in an insane asylum starring a trio of late-90s, early-2000s "stars" (Blair Witch Project's Joshua Leonard, American Pie's Natasha Lyonne and Cabin Fever's Jordan Ladd). Like Shutter Island there's a mystery to solve (who is killing patients?), but on a far lower budget. Some nice stylistic touches and a decent twist ending, and it's always good to see Josh Leonard getting work.

You're Gonna Miss Me (2005) Netflix
- Music doco about psychadelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson and his downward spiral from musical success in the 1960s and early 70s, to institutionalisation and then ending up as a shell of his former self, living with his mom in poverty. Less a documentary about music and more a frank look at mental illness (a theme I can't seem to get away from at the moment!) and the effects of bad parenting.

TUNE IN JUNE: Brian's Song (1971) AVI
- When I decided to do Tune in June I looked up lists of the top made-for-TV movies, and this one was mentioned on a lot of lists. I'll admit that I knew nothing about it, other than it was about an American Football player who died young. That's the crux of it, but what makes this so special is the great acting by James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, and the way they're able to bring the true-life friendship of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers to life. Truly touching.

The Tall Man (2012) Netflix
- I think Pascal Laugier's Martyrs is one of the greatest horror movies of the last decade. It's suspenseful, brutal and I was left thinking about it's content for days afterwards. I was excited to hear that Laugier had followed up with this tale of children going missing in a small US mountain town. Whereas Martyrs is a decidedly French movie, this moves to English language, an American setting and American stars, headlined by Jessica Biel. The result is not as brutal as Martyrs but just as thought provoking and suspenseful. Get this man more work!

Strongman (2009) Netflix
- Another documentary, this one about Stanless Steel, a powerful middle-aged showman strong enough to bend pennies with his bare hands. But he's living in poverty, his family is messed up and his relationship with his live-in girlfriend/announcer is hardly ideal. There's no real point to this doco, no real point that it builds to, but it's a frank and honest look at a man who thinks he should be famous but isn't.

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