Every film I saw in March 2019

This month I immersed myself in a huge variety of films. From tentpole releases to classics, from obscure genre films to dramas, March saw this cinephile engage in a lot of exciting cinematic stories. From this month I’ll be stating if I’ve seen each film before and just for fun, how I saw them-

  • Get Out

Have I seen it before? Yes.

How did I watch it? Netflix.

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is one of my favourite horror films. A extremely original and blackly comic take on suburbia and race, Get Out can make you laugh one minute then have you with your mouth on the floor with the bizarre and brutal world Peele concocts. Daniel Kaluuya more than proves he deserved the Oscar nomination for Best Actor with his tour de force central performance as Chris, giving Bruce Campbell a run for his money as greatest “Final Guy” in horror history. It could have been easy for the film to simply be a “racism is bad” message but it’s a lot more complex than that, examining the mentality behind rich white American suburbia and the subtleties of race relations. I cannot stress just how funny and quotable this film is and whilst it is technically a horror film it is mainly a satire and whilst it can occasionally be uncomfortable viewing it is always one step ahead of the game and presents the audience with twists and turns that just captivate you. I highly recommend this film to the three people who haven’t seen it.

  • Donnie Darko

Have I seen it before? No.

How did I watch it? From the free Director’s Cut DVD that came with a decade old Sunday Telegraph that my house had lying around for years.

This. Film. Is. Weird. You may have heard of this one as the “giant bunny time travel film” but that only vaguely covers it. It’s so insane and crazy I literally had to read up the official explanation after watching it because it was that confusing. And yes, I understood Inception the first time. That’s how insane Donnie Darko is. Did I like it? I loved it. I can’t explain exactly why but suffice to say I will definitely be rewatching this one in the future. It’s the psychedelic tone, the wacky and endearing characters and performances and the way it sticks in your mind for ages after watching it. It’s clever without being pretentious, mainly due to its self-awareness, humour and wackiness that stops it from being an incomprehensible brood piece. The ending left me utterly perplexed but intrigued and really ties the whole film together. It is incomprehensible but in a really really good way. Do not watch this film if you something nice and easy to digest. It’s anything but formulaic.

  • Captain Marvel

Have I seen it before? Duh.

How did I see it? Duh.

Look at me, being lazy and simply posting the link to my review here. The reason for this is because I write these end of month posts as I see the films so my short review is my immediate thoughts for a film I’ve seen for the first time or a abbreviation if I’ve seen it before. So if I do a big review of a cinema release, I don’t wanna write it out again in brief. For completionists sake I’m including cinema trips but for the major superhero releases I’ll be doing a full review so I won’t elaborate more in these posts. Super lazy mode indeed.

  • The Goonies

Have I seen it before? No.

How did I see it? Netflix.

My on-going quest to watch every 80’s movie continues. Two big names make their debut here- Sean Astin as lead character Mikey and Josh Brolin as his very, very 80’s brother, weird hair and all. They lead a group of kids into a quest to find treasure that will help them be financially secure and prevent their neighbourhood from being flattened. Unfortunately some very silly and idiotic criminals stand in their way. This movie is a classic for many people and it is very entertaining provided you’re in the right mindset of accepting really silly scenarios. For example, I find it highly unlikely that such a dumb group of villains ever managed to do anything so bad one of them ended up imprisoned but hey, silly 80’s kids film with Steven Spielberg’s involvement, so I’ll take it for what it is (although he probably won’t like the fact that I watched it on Netflix). And yes, you can watch the whole film believing that the quest is to find the Infinity Stones or that Sean Astin’s character is actually going to help destroy the treasure.

  • A Quiet Place

Have I seen it before? No.

How did I see it? Sky Cinema.

One of the most hyped up films from last year, I am happy to say that A Quiet Place does not disappoint. There are only three films that have made me physically wince- the first was The Descent, the second was Hellraiser and the third is A Quiet Place. If you’ve seen the film you can probably tell what part it is. Focusing on a family as they hide from creatures that hunt on sound, the film is full of tension and nail biting moments as any noise made by the characters will result in the monsters coming. As expected there’s little to no dialogue but the outstanding production means the film works just as well without this element of film. Quite how the film only managed one Academy Award nomination (that it didn’t even win) is beyond me as this is the kind of revolutionary horror film making we have been enjoying for a while now. I do wish we didn’t see as much of the monsters as we did though- sometimes less is more- but the scares are less about the creatures and more about the tension trying to escape them. If you like originality, check out this film.

  • Superman

Have I seen it before? No.

How did I see it? Sky Cinema.

Finally, after years of being a comic book movie obsessive, I have seen the original film that preceded them all- Richard Donner’s Superman, with the legendary Christopher Reeve as the titular character and John Williams’ immortal score. This is the only live action version of Superman that everyone likes and for a good reason. The first half an hour does a wonderful job of establishing the mythos, with Marlon Brando as Jor-El and an understated first half that gives the audience a firm understanding of just who Kal-El is before the superheroics begin. The film does get sillier as it progresses- Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor is nothing like the comics but is clearly having so much fun chewing the scenery- but it retains a human touch throughout, and of course Christopher Reeve is the undisputed best Superman. Unlike other interpretations he is completely different as Clark Kent and Superman to the extent where I can actually believe them as two different people. The time travel solution is beyond ridiculous but outside of that this is one of the finest DC films.

  • The Martian

Have I seen it before? Half of it, before my computer’s DVD player decided to die.

How did I see it? DVD, on a big HD television this time.

For all the acclaim Ridley Scott gets, a brief look at his filmography reveals a far more inconsistent output than some of his contemporaries. But when he teams up with Drew Goddard and Andy Weir we get one of his best films, The Martian. With a brilliant performance by Matt Damon, the film is a wide range of emotions from funny to exhilarating to tense. Stranded on Mars after his crew abandon the mission and assume him dead, Mark Watney has to survive on his own, all the while an elaborate rescue mission is set up on Earth. Incidentally, this is one awesome cast, from Sean Bean to Chiwetel Ejiofor. The script combines tons of techno-babble with heart and emotion as Watney figures out how to survive physically and mentally with no one to help him. The amazing visual effects, engaging narrative and Scott’s mastery of the craft means despite having no antagonist and very little action it is still incredibly well paced. The conflict mainly revolves around how the various branches of NASA work past their differences to arrange the mission, and even when all hope seems lost the story ends triumphantly.

  • Kong: Skull Island

Have I seen it before? No

How did I see it? Sky Cinema.

For years I have been saying how a Godzilla vs Kong movie is silly because of how much bigger Godzilla is than Kong. Well, I take that back. I am ready to see this Kong fight Godzilla. Further proving that Warner Brothers do actually know how to make a cinematic universe (ironically borrowing many Marvel actors in the process), Kong: Skull Island establishes the big ape as a force of nature whose battles are just as fist pumpingly satisfying as his future scaled rival. The film is also packed with the same subtext that made 2014’s Godzilla work, this time presenting the conflict between Samuel L Jackson (no I will never call any character he plays other than Mr Glass anything other than Samuel L Jackson) and Kong as an allusion to the Vietnam War, which serves as the film’s backdrop. This film has bonkers action, crazy visuals, a great cast and giant monsters battling each other and to be honest that’s all I need in a film. Bring on King of the Monsters and let’s see Big G one last time before the clash of the titans in 2020.

  • Prince of Darkness

Have I seen it before? No.

How did I see it? DVD.

I’m going to say something really huge here- this is the scariest film I have ever seen. John Carpenter’s little-seen 1987 film delves into ideas of religion vs science, faith vs reality and the idea that humans are so minuscule compared to the Lovecraftian forces of nature that Carpenter establishes in the film. Donald Pleasance portrays one of Carpenter’s greatest protagonists, the unnamed cleric who questions his faith and his actions as an ancient evil is unleashed onto a group of hapless science students. The imagery presented throughout is haunting and strikingly original, with a phenomenal synth soundtrack and an intelligent script that spends time raising huge ideas before unleashing the horror. And the horror… the horror. The reason I consider this the scariest film I have ever seen isn’t just the scares, but because of the atmosphere, the themes, the score, the sense of foreboding, dread and evil that permeates every frame. One of the reasons Carpenter is such a master of his craft is his firm belief that less is more, and in this case that is certainly the case. This may well be my favourite film he’s ever done, and I’ve loved every Carpenter film I’ve seen.

  • Fargo

Have I seen it before? No.

How did I see it? Netflix.

A pair of filmmakers I’ve been meaning to get into are the Coens, and I think this is the right place to start. A simple plot to extract money goes wrong as the body count piles up and a police chief begins to put the pieces together in her head as to the convoluted goings on. This film has some of the blackest humour I have ever seen on film, and as a fan of twisted comedy I greatly enjoyed seeing the characters get what they deserve. The plot is very compact and tightly written, with a wonderful ensemble cast bringing a warped group of characters to life. The highlight is Steve Buscemi as Carl Showalter, one of two thugs who have been hired by a in-debt car salesmen to kidnap his wife in an elaborate money ruse. Sounds simple right? Well things quickly go out of control and it’s a joy to watch in the best and worst possible way. What’s happening on screen is horrible but you can’t help but watch every second unfold on screen. The cinematography and music score are great and sell the macabre, dark mood the film oozes. I love films that just have this unexplained, slightly awkward atmosphere to them and Fargo has that vibe, with dry humour and situations that should be funny being treated seriously and situations that should be serious being treated in a humorous manner. I totally get why this film is so beloved.

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One thought on “Every film I saw in March 2019

  1. I was a very surprised that you had not seen the original Superman before, but I agree with you that it is the best and Christopher Reeves is the definitive Superman. I actually saw this on its opening night in Singapore in 1978 – the only time I have watched a film whilst wearing a dinner jacket!

    Donnie Darko is excellent, but I had to watch it twice to understand exactly what was going on and Fargo is simply brilliant and much better than the decidedly average TV series of the same name.
    I never really got into the Goonies, and simply refuse to believe that Prince of Darkness could be scarier than the ending of Carrie.

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