Every film I saw in April 2019

I didn’t just watch that film (you know the one) this month. I made good use of my Easter holiday to check out some famous, and not so famous, films.

  • The Silence of the Lambs

Had I seen it before? No.

How did I watch it? Netflix

Famous for being the only horror film to ever win Best Picture, The Silence of the Lambs is an iconic film for so many reasons, chiefly the spine-tingling performance of Anthony Hopkins as the immortal Hannibal Lecter. And no, I will not say he is the lead actor, he is a supporting actor. A well deserved Oscar in the wrong category. The lead character is Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling, an phenomenal film hero who stands up to the most disturbed minds on the planet and still survives. The film is a masterpiece of pacing, writing,acting and directing and nearly thirty years on it still has such a strong impact and effect. The film is primarily a psychological battle of wits between Lecter and Starling, with the two trying to one-up each other at every turn, resulting in riveting viewing. Even though I know a lot of the twists and turns the film still gripped me, which is a credit to the talents of Jonathan Demme. His use of close ups and shot composition have gone down in film history and he masterfully directs the extended sequences of Lecter and Starling talking to each other to create some of the most intense dialogue scenes of all time. This film deserves every award it ever got and more. It’s truly spectacular.

  • Shazam!

Duh.

In case you missed my review, be sure to check the latest DC film out. The memories of Snyder have long since faded and the greatest comic book company in the world have finally come to their senses. Long live DC.

  • Batman: Ninja

Had I seen it before? No.

How did I watch it? Netflix.

A Batman anime is… exactly what you’d expect. When Gorilla Grodd’s time machine transports multiple DC characters into feudal Japan (yes you did just read that sentence), Batman must get back to modern times whilst avoiding a war between the Joker, Deathstroke, Poison Ivy, the Penguin, Two-Face and Gorilla Grodd. And yes, they all have giant mechas. This film is insane. Apparently the English dub (which I watched) is very different from the original Japanese film, but it’s still a crazy experience. I love how all four Robins (Dick Grayson as Nightwing, Jason Todd as Red Hood, Tim Drake as Red Robin and Damien Wayne as Robin) were in the film and I loved the art style, beautifully rendering many of Gotham’s rogues gallery into anime villains. The characters are given Japanese costumes and appearances that make this a very interesing “what if” scenario. When Batman’s technology fails him, he must use other methods to get Grodd’s machine and turns to ninja training (I can’t believe I’m writing this sentence) in order to win. Don’t watch this film expecting a serious take on Batman or a comprehensible story- this is Batman in a Japanese mecha cartoon, and if you can roll with that, then check it out.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Had I seen it before? Nope. Never. Absolutely not.

How did I watch it? Netflix.

My third rewatch of this film confirms one thing- this is one of Marvel’s best films. James Gunn’s sequel is a classic example of a superhero sequel that surpasses the original, taking the characters we know and love and making an emotional and profound story out of it. The sense of adventure pours through every frame and the visual style is so unique and gorgeous to observe- the spirit of Marvel Comics lives in every second of frame of this spectacular film. Between the absurd humour and surrealism lies a story about family, grief and belonging. Not a subplot is wasted- Rocket and Yondu’s relationship as unconventional fathers is as important as Nebula and Gamora’s, whilst Star-Lord comes to terms with his own legacy with Ego, played by one of my all time favourite actors Kurt Russell. I love the structure and narrative of this film, presenting the galaxy as huge and vibrant with the Guardians split up and forced to solve problems without each other. I would love to one day revisit this film in depth and go into why I love this film but that’s for another time. It’s a bonafide masterpiece.

  • A Fistful of Dollars

Had I seen it before? No.

How did I watch it? Netflix.

I’ve always found interest in the Western genre, although my main exposure to it has been parodies (Blazing Saddles, Red Dwarf’s Gunmen of the Apocalypse) or homages (Firefly, Doctor Who’s The Gunfighters and A Town Called Mercy). The “spaghetti western” films, shot in the Italian film studios and the deserts of Spain, gave rise to the immortal career of Clint Eastwood. This film introduces the iconic Man with No Name, and this character is simply awesome. I love how nothing is ever revealed or mentioned with regards to who he is, but thanks to Eastwood’s insane charisma and screen presence you still get a sense of his personality and his morals. The plot is a complex corporate scheme involving multiple sides with the Man caught in the middle, and as the film progresses we see him switch sides and alliances in a way that feels nice and organic. I love the atmosphere of this film and how no character is really good or evil, just fighting for their own motivations and goals. I’d love to watch the other two films in this trilogy, particularly the hugely influential The Good, The Bad and Ugly.

  • Cube

Had I seen it before? No.

How did I watch it? Netflix.

Want a weird Canadian horror/thriller sci-fi film which uses one set? If the answer to that incredibly specific list is yes, check out Cube. This film is Weird with a capital W. Five people awake to find themselves in a room with booby traps on all sides of them. No explanation as to how they got there, no memories and no motive behind the events. All they have is each other and a set of deadly traps that will kill them. That’s the plot. The film is primarily a character piece that focuses on the different characters and how they interact with each other- the “lead” is police officer Quentin, but he is not a conventional hero by any means. And when I say one set, I do mean one set. The square room changes colour and is shot in a different way each time to represent a different room but it is one set throughout. Very very clever. The characters are all very interesting- I like how no one knows anything and the audience learn about them the same time they learn within the narrative. There are lots of twists and turns that I did not see coming and it’s a very fun watch because you feel like you are engaging with the story directly. If you like incomprehensible cult films like I do, Cube is well worth checking out.

  • Enter the Dragon

Had I seen it before? No.

How did I see it? AMC film channel.

There are very few film stars as iconic or immortal as Bruce Lee. Even if you’ve never seen one of his four completed films you’ve seen a film or an actor influenced by his legacy. After seeing Enter the Dragon, I can see why. Ignoring the obvious and occasionally hilariously poor dubbing, the film is a martial arts masterpiece that showcases the charisma and screen presence of its leading man and what could have been a flourishing Hollywood career had he not died so suddenly. In the film, Bruce Lee plays himself (no seriously, the character is called Lee, and it’s not you see him as anyone other than Bruce Lee) infiltrating the island lair of a drug overlord by posing as a competitor of a tournament. Let’s be honest though, the plot is secondary here- you’re here to see Bruce Lee fight people and you get that. The martial arts presented are brutal but insanely watchable and entertaining, and the iconic hallway of mirrors fight is a genius piece of filmmaking. Not just an action film, the characters are also interesting in their own way- Lee seeks revenge for the death of his sister but is willing to show honour to his opponents, whilst American competitors Roper and Williams have their own motives and plotlines that are equally interesting. It is a Bond knockoff, but it’s Lee’s presence that makes it unique and a film classic.

  • Avengers: Endgame

Had I seen it before? What do you thinlk?

How did I see it? In the only acceptable way- opening midnight viewing in the most packed cinema I have ever seen and having accidentally booked a 3D screening but loving the added element to it anyway

I don’t want to get into superlatives, but this might be one of my all time favourite films of all time. Granted I’ve only seen it once but I aim to watch it again at some point and unlock the details and nuances that make Endgame the masterpiece that it is. What an end to these wonderful characters.

This was a packed month for me. Next month may be a bit sparse as I focus 100% on exams but I aim to watch the new Godzilla when it comes out and will still try to throw in some film viewings along the way.

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