Monthly Film Roundup: January 2021

Films Watched: 41

How Many Were New: 37

Best Films: Oldboy (2003), 12 Angry Men (1957) and Snowpiercer (2013)

Worst Films: Animal House (1977), Man Bites Dog (1992) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977)


It (2017)
Enjoyable visual style and strong mystery element. Thought the writing was predictable and the tone was totally confused

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (2011)
A satisfying conclusion with stunning design and exciting action. A huge improvement on the previous two instalments

Snowpiercer (2013)
An incredible action sci-fi from Bong Joon Ho. Fantastic visuals and a bizarre but fascinating story

Paths of Glory (1957)
A Kubrick directed anti-war film that features the usual technical achievements, but also Kubrick’s cold and clinical style. This means the emotion of the simple story isn’t present enough

The Death of Stalin (2017)
A darkly hilarious satire from the creator of The Thick of It. Cam be summed up as a bunch of powerful but useless white guys with evil and selfish intent. Sound familiar?

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
A sparkling musical comedy from the golden age. Fabulous performances and catchy tunes (including ‘Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend’) make it a winner

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
An interesting but somewhat dated horror. Not as shocking as it once might’ve been, and anti–climactic in its conclusion

Pretty Woman (1990)
Despite being overly long and totally superficial, the fabulous chemistry between Gere and Roberts make it an enjoyable watch

Strangers on a Train (1951)
A tense and exciting thriller from the master of suspense. A fun central conceit with great twists and turns

올드보이 ‘Oldboy’ (2003)
An incredible South Korean revenge thriller that sports stunning visuals, fantastic performances and a shocking narrative

Hellboy (2004)
Stylish, action-packed and massively entertaining. A thoroughly enjoyable comic-book movie from Guillermo del Toro

Black Narcissus (1947)
Lavishly designed with stunning cinematography and a tightly crafted psychological story. Despite being nearly 75 years old, it feels like it was made only yesterday

The Searchers (1956)
Similar to most westerns, The Searchers features beautiful scenery and some exciting moments, but also problematic portrayals of indigenous people. Not only that, the story dragged in parts, and the emotional climax didn’t feel worthy of the runtime.

The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
A rare Film Noir that doesn’t outstay its welcome. Despite some script issues, it sports thrilling set pieces, great performances and a knockout finale

American Animals (2018)
A stunningly tense and thrilling docu-drama with nauseating scenes that examine a feeling of guilt and lack of purpose

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
The first ‘Beatlemania’ film is delightfully silly fun. Totally captures the spirit on an era with daft set pieces and surprisingly entertaining performances from the non-actors. Plus, it obviously sports a great soundtrack

Bowling for Columbine (2002)
An inflammatory documentary exploring the Columbine High School Massacre and the state of US violence. Cutting and satirical, it’s a 19-year-old film that echoes as strongly now as it originally did

Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Despite a rushed ending, this Frank Capra political romp is a fantastically watchable film, thanks in no small part to another stunning performance from James Stewart

Spoorloos ‘The Vanishing’ (1988)
A shockingly dark missing persons thriller from the Netherlands. Restrained performances place nicely into the bleak horror of its narrative

American Made (2017)
A fascinating story told in an interesting way, with a great performance from Tom Cruise

12 Angry Men (1957)
One of the best written, directed and performance movies I’ve ever seen. Examines the entirety of humanity within a microcosm. Absolutely thrilling

Dead Ringers (1988)
A well-paced and intriguing psychological thriller. Jeremy Irons shines in the dual role of identical twins

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
A genuinely effective found-footage horror that uses human psychosis as its main weapon. Nothing is seen, therefore out imagination is able to terrify us

Forbidden Planet (1956)
A pioneering sci-fi film with spectacular effects and a though-provoking story. Genuinely revolutionary, without it we’d have no Star Wars, no Star Trek, nothing

All the Presidents Men (1976)
A tense political thriller detailing the exposure of the Watergate scandal. Excellent performances excuse the slightly overstuffed narrative

Animal House (1978)
Thinly plotted and overly-long, this dated and audacious comedy never quite earns its laughs due to being a little too far behind in political correctness. When ‘gags’ include adults dating 13 year olds and being called a “homo” for refusing to commit sexual assault, you know you’re on shaky ground…

Hitchcock (2012)
A simplistic but entertaining romp detailing the making of ‘Psycho’. Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren provide great performances in this hugely fun and watchable biopic

Rebecca (1940)
The only Hitchcock film to win a Best Picture Oscar is a perfectly crafted Psychological thriller. Excellent performances and lavish design means the dark but romantic story grips from the start to the end

Le Mans ’66 (2019)
A pulse-racing and surprisingly funny film with some of the best made race sequences ever put to film. Christian Bale shines once again. Loved it when I first saw it, still do now

Trainspotting (1996)
An intense but rewarding watch that sports fantastic performances and excellent filmmaking techniques. Any film that can pull of the tonal shift of going from “the dirty blanket” to “the baby” is a winner in my books

Whisky Galore! (1949)
A dated but still entertaining comedy that’s probably better described as a light-hearted drama. An interesting premise and short runtime make it an easy watch

C’est arrivé près de chez vousMan Bites Dog‘ (1992)
This dark Belgian mockumentary is a tough, uncompromising and often upsetting watch. What starts as an interesting premise very quickly becomes an exercise in bad taste, and for all its ambition and style, the end result is pretty difficult to sit through

Monty Python: The Meaning of Live (2014)
I adore this documentary, for pretty obvious reasons. Detailing the 10 farewell shows that Monty Python did at the 02, it’s a hilarious but intimate portrayal of the five surviving members. Since Terry J’s passing, the film has also taken on a far more emotional level

Lincoln (2012)
An epic biopic telling the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Though a little stuffy, it’s still beautifully designed, well directed and (shockingly…) fantastically performed by Day-Lewis and a host of other great actors

千と千尋の神隠し Spirited Away‘ (2001)
Similar to ‘Pans Labyrinth’, I found this film’s story and themes a little too fantastical and ambiguous to fully connect with it emotionally. However, that didn’t take away from the fact that it is one of the most stunningly well animated films I have ever seen

My Left Foot (1989)
A beautifully uplifting drama telling the life of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy who became a writer and painter. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an emotional and stunningly committed performance, that ultimately won him his first Oscar.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
A wonderfully melodramatic gothic horror from Tim Burton. The film used the same cinematographer, production designer and costumer as the 2004 Lemony Snicket film, and therefore it shares the stunningly lavish aesthetic

Love & Mercy (2014)
As a big fan of The Beach Boys, I found this film deeply moving. Examining the severe mental illness suffered by Brian Wilson through the 60’s and 80’s, the film utilises stunning psychedelic sound design to transport us into Wilson’s sonic world. Paul Dano and John Cusack give beautifully tortured performances as Brian in the 60’s and 80’s respectively

Silent Movie (1976)
This might be one of Mel Brooks’ best movies. A wonderfully affectionate parody of Chaplin and Keaton, this very silly comedy features fabulous slapstick and inspired set pieces

The Girl on the Train (2016)
Lots of promise, not much delivered. Someone watched ‘Gone Girl’ and tried their best to replicate it, but ended up with a watchable but fairly flat thriller. Emily Blunt’s performance is incredible though

Cover Girl Killer (1959)
A sleazy, cheap but entertaining thriller. Coming out a year before ‘Psycho’, it’s clear the industry was moving in a more salacious direction

See you next month for February’s watchlist!

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