Well, it’s been a while. Longest writing break I’ve ever taken. I’m going to try and pick it up again more regularly. But, for now, we’re in lockdown 3 and in January I decided to try and knock off as many movies from my watchlist as I could. I use Letterboxd to track the movies I watch and want to watch - my profile is here.
I watched 21 movies in January, so let’s kick this off with the worst - let’s get them out of the way.
The two worst movies I watched in January - Mile 22, and Outside the Wire.
Outside the Wire should have been good. It wasn’t on my watchlist but it had a decent cast and a pretty good idea. It has that sweet Netflix money, and it starts off pretty well. I was starting to enjoy it - but it goes off the rails about halfway through. There are some pretty good action scenes but in the end, I didn’t enjoy it at all.
Mile 22 also should have been good. I had high hopes - good cast, good setup. Again, some pretty great action scenes but much of the dialogue was awful. The plot wasn’t great either - and the double-double-cross ending was pretty annoying. Checked off the list but should have given it a miss.
Better than bad
We’re skipping the bad - there were a few. But there was also a good few movies that weren’t bad but weren’t that good either. The middle of the road:
- The Force, which was a super boring documentary but an important subject.
- The Art of Flight - also boring but stunning. Red Bull made a beautiful movie.
- The Midnight Sky, great performance by George Clooney, but too many holes in the story for me.
- The Irishman - Scorsese should just have hired some younger actors. The bad CGI and clearly geriatric De Niro trying to play a much younger man was disappointing. But dialogue and plot saved it from being an outright bad movie.
- The Founder - I enjoyed this movie a bit. But 4 hours after the movie I had completely forgotten what I had watched that morning.
21 Bridges worked better than expected. The plot was somewhat ridiculous, but quite a bit of fun. Great performance by Chadwick Boseman. But I wonder if I would I have liked it as much if I didn’t know now what he was going through at the time.
My wife is a big Jane Austin fan. So we watched Emma in January, and I was pretty impressed. I was ready to not like it - I enjoyed the BBC adaptation with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller. But it turned out to be pretty good. Johnny Flynn was a good Mr Knightly - and he has a song on the soundtrack that is excellent.
Mosul was a great watch - I enjoyed it. A war movie that could have that a Hollywood studio would have been proud of. The story is from the point of view of an Iraqi SWAT team. They’re trying to travel across their city of Mosul after ISIS split the city in half. According to the description, it is based on true events. There was a lot to like about the movie. It felt like DREDD or The Raid - one long action scene, with only a few breaks to reset. There was a great story to it too.
My watchlist brought two new favourite movies to my attention this month. I watched Les Misérables, which was excellent. I’m not a great musical fan but this was a great movie. The ending, in particular, got to me. I loved it.
The other movie that I loved this month was the Australian zombie movie - Cargo.
Since I became a father a year and a half ago, few movies have affected me as this one did. More than once, times this movie broke me. I couldn’t help but imagine myself in the same situations and what would happen, and what I would do. And to be clear, I would be dead straight away. But the movie, it was a great Australian spin on the zombie genre. It was full of the usual zombie cliches but with some nice extras. There was one scene right at the end that seemed a little out of place, but that didn’t stop me loving this movie. The soundtrack really set the scene too - some great music added to the atmosphere the movie was going for.
So there it is - quite the mix of movies from my watchlist in January. Depending on how long this lockdown lasts, I’ll get a few more movies off the watchlist.