365 Movies

Comedian and man behind the Doug Loves Movies podcast, Doug Benson, is, this year, attempting to watch one film a day every single day of the year. Not necessarily exactly in that format but with the aim of having watched 365 films by the end of the year. And I have decided to try it as well.

I constantly find myself at a loss of what to watch and there are so many films in the world, yet I continue to re-watch things over and over again. So I thought that if I were to challenge myself to try and watch 365 new movies this year then I would finally get around to watching some of the many films I have been meaning to see. I only decided to start this in late February so was already behind and finals have slowed down the process, but with them now firmly behind me the real business can begin.

I think I am currently on around 70 films which isn’t anywhere near the target. I have, however, now seen a huge range of films, some very different to what I would normally watch. Writing down everything I’ve seen is also good I think. It is very satisfying to see the whole list growing with every week and will possibly mean I’ll be able to remember if I’ve actually seen a film or not in the future!

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Where did that year go…?

So I haven’t done this in a while.

With my final year of university mostly under wraps (coupled with my continued insomnia and boredom) I thought it would be a good habit to pick up again. I’ll guess we’ll see how well that goes as only time will tell how strong my sticking power will be this time around.

The last year has flew by in a blur of European cities followed by what has seemed like endless reading, essay writing and translations. Now my fourth and final year of uni is over, I am faced with the ever terrifying question of what next. With nothing in the pipeline, my future looms in the distance and everything is about to change. It perhaps goes without saying that there have been many a late night existential crisis and I’m sure there are many to come.

In a vain hope to keep my sanity, I figured that forcing myself to sit down and write about the goings on of the summer and beyond would at least give me some kind of structure to the seemingly endless days ahead. On top of practical life planning, I also have several fun things planned, so lets just see where the whirlwind takes me.

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The Spectacular Now

In my opinion, there is no way that Shailene Woodley is not going to be huge star. Ever since I saw her in The Descendants I thought that she was marked for big things. With two very different upcoming films Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, she is going to be a very interesting new actress to watch.

Last weekend I was looking for a decent romantic comedy to pass my Sunday afternoon and that isn’t exactly what I got. I heard from a lot of sources that The Spectacular Now was very good and as a fan of both Shailene Woodley and co-star Miles Teller, what could go wrong. The Spectacular Now was 100% not what I was expecting, but not at all in a bad way. It was absolutely beautiful and I’ve not seen a film I’ve loved as much for quite a long time. Both leads were incredibly believable and the film was therefore very emotional. There were twists which I did not expect and the story itself was amazing.

For some reason it reminded me of several of my favourite films such as 500 Days of Summer and Garden State. Maybe that was because of its almost wistful, summer vibe or the soundtrack perhaps; I don’t really know why my brain made that connection.

Overall despite it being completely different to what I expected I absolutely loved it. Both lead actors gave wonderful, emotional and real performances and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!

 

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Track of the Week – 17/04/2014 – Stranger in Moscow – Tame Impala

Slightly slow on the uploading of this week’s track of the week but it has materialised nonetheless. This week’s song once again comes courtesy of those incredible Aussie’s from Tame Impala and their latest offering is a cover of Michael Jackson’s Stranger in Moscow. An absolutely brilliant cover with Tame’s signature stamp, it mostly makes me wish for more original stuff! Despite the release of a live EP for Record Store Day and two upcoming albums from Pond men Jay Watson and Joe Ryan things on the Tame side seem relatively quiet on the new material front.

Over the last few weeks the band’s lead singer Kevin Parker has been showing more and more of his disco and hip hop affiliations, with hints from fellow Aussie pysch god Jay Watson that he has enough material to release a disco album. From the snippets that I have heard I can only imagine that this would be incredible!

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Track of the Week – 03/03/2014 – Waterloo Sunset – Temples

This week’s track of the week is Temples’ cover of Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, recorded for OuiFM. As the sun has been shining in Paris over the last few days it seems only right that Waterloo Sunset be my track of the week. It always reminds me of hazy spring and summer evenings and although it still may be slightly early in the year for sitting in the sun drinking until nearly 10pm, I will take all the feelings of summer that I can get.

Suiting Temples’ lead singer, James Bagshaw’s  voice down to the ground, despite the fact this cover doesn’t really do anything strikingly new with the song it is very good nonetheless.  Yet another sign that this band are ever growing and heading in an excellent direction this cover shows their talents brilliantly.

More to come.

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Only Lovers Left Alive

After a short hiatus due to a very busy week, I’m continuing the film portion of this blog with a quick review of Jim Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive.

The film follows the centuries old romance between vampires Adam, Tom Hiddleston and Eve, Tilda Swinton. Tom Hiddleston plays a suicidal, nostalgic musician who has become a recluse due to the fact that he thinks humanity is doomed and he is at the end of his tether with the ‘zombies’ (humans). Fearing he may take his own life, Adam’s lover Tilda Swinton leaves her home of Tangiers to rush to his aid.

Filled with both historical and vampire references throughout, the witty script was warm and genuinely funny. The sets were beautiful and I would happily live in either Eve’s Tangiers residence complete with as many books as you could read in a lifetime or Adam’s rundown Detroit house filled with music paraphernalia. With additional performances from Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin and John Hurt the cast is excellent, only adding to the quality of the film. Given that one of the characters is a reclusive, infamous musician it is perhaps a given that the soundtrack would be interesting. Jarmush’s arguably challenging musical choices were, in my opinion, perfect for the mood of the film and served only to enhance the filmic experience.

I had wanted to see this film for ages and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Touching and, ironically, very human, the characters are what make this film so watchable and brilliant. I would definitely recommend it and it looks like everything that Tom Hiddleston is touching is turning to gold at the moment.

More to come.

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Track of the Week – 17/02/2013 – Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

After this week’s Culture show special, I have chosen Damon Albarn’s title track of his debut solo album, Everyday Robots, as my track of the week.

Described as the first truly personal album he’s written, it is set for release this April. Albarn expertly blends a skilled piano part with electronic synths to create a kind of ethereal, eerie sound; a theme which is allegedly carried through the rest of the album.

The video for Everyday Robots is also partly why I have chosen this song. A digital portrait of Damon by artist Aitor Throup forms over the course of the video and even uses scans to map and create his brain on screen.

This song and the glimses of others I have heard, along with the prospect of collaborations with Brian Eno and Natasha Khan, fill me with great hope for how much I am going to enjoy the album as a whole.

More to come.

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Track of the Week – 10/02/2014 – Retrograde -Lorde

In addition to the odd music reviews I’ve decided that I will also add a ‘Track of the Week’ feature in an attempt to even out the film to music ratio.

So the first track of the week is Lorde’s cover of James Blake’s Retrograde, recorded for triple j’s Like A Version. Previously producing one of my favourite covers of all time, Tame Impala’s Prototype (originally by Outkast), Like A Version has yet again struck cover version gold. The arguably slightly left-field choice of a cover is one of my favourite tracks from last year, along with pretty much everything else James Blake did. I think it is perfectly suited to Lorde’s style and her voice shines through to produce this haunting version of the song.

In recent weeks Lorde has obviously been the centre of much media attention from tweeting about paparazzi to her bizarre performance at the Grammys and her celebrity seems to be ever-increasing. Despite criticism she has received for her awkwardness and also that it’s potentially forced and self-designed, it is hard to deny the fact that Lorde is fast becoming a star. With this excellent choice of a cover I think it is going to be interesting to see where she goes next.

More to come.

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Sun Structures – Temples

In an attempt to keep up with the latter half of the name of this blog, I have decided it’s time I wrote something about music.

And what better to start with than the debut album from Temples released today on Heavenly Recordings (boasting other psychedelic offerings, Toy and Stealing Sheep). In recent years most will have seen the psych revival fast approaching. When it first started seeping back into the mainstream a few years ago the big guns came from down under. Thanks largely to Kevin Parker et al with Tame Impala and to a lesser extent Pond, psychedelia has been firmly cemented back in our consciousness. Some may say it’s cashing in on their successes, others might think it has something to do with not wanting to be out done by the Aussies after a dismal ashes performance, but it can’t be denied that we Brits are hitting back with our own brand of psych coming out, of all places, the Midlands.

With their debut single, Shelter Song, realised in November 2012 they have since attracted the attention of Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr. After several festival and supporting slots, the Kettering boys first LP is without a doubt a very mixed bag, although definitely listenable. Shelter Song and The Golden Throne stand out as being well written and there is a colourful quality to the album which makes me feel like it would be better listened to outside in the blazing sunshine rather than in bed on a cold, grey Parisian day. However, I felt the second half of the album lagged slightly and lost some energy along the way. It kind of feels like they are sticking too much to the format of what is deemed to be ‘psychedelic’ and ignoring where the music is organically going. Having said this, all in all I very much enjoyed the album and having not given them much time prior to this I can say I could well be turned into a Temples fan yet.

More to come.

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Dallas Buyers Club

So with another addition to the Oscar nominees that I have seen in recent weeks I am fast approaching my goal of seeing every single one of the Best Picture nominees prior to the big event. Initially I think I’ll start this review by saying that I think I liked Dallas Buyers Club more than Her but way less than The Wolf of Wall Street. However, I’m not sure where exactly it lies in relation to 12 Years a Slave so we’ll leave that decision until I’m held at gunpoint by a film maniac and forced to choose.

Another film based on a true story, Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of AIDS sufferers in 80s Dallas. The protagonist, homophobic, philandering, drug taking, cowboy, Ron Woodrooff, played by Matthew McConaughey who is continuing his streak of remarkable roles after Mud, is given 30 days to live after being diagnosed with AIDS. Woodroof illegally smuggles drugs into America in order to attempt better treatment of AIDS and to avoid being caught by the FDA sets up a Buyers Club where patients are paying for membership and getting the drugs free so Woodroof is technically not breaking the law.

Despite McConaughey’s skill, the most startling and, in my opinion, most outstanding performance comes from Jared Leto. Taking the form of Woodroof’s unlikely friend and business partner, a HIV positive transgender woman, Rayon, he is incredible from start to finish. Genuinely moving, witty and believable. It is a beautiful performance and one which I hope he wins Best Supporting Actor for, as he truly deserves it. Both McConaughey, but even more so Leto’s emaciated frames show just how much they have put into their roles and adds a certain gravity to the plight of these characters. Furthermore, Woodroof should, in theory, be an incredibly unsympathetic character but you cannot help but feel for him and eventually grow to like him. The second anti-hero of Oscar season along with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort, McConaughey’s character development is another astonishing feature to be noted. His romantic relationship with his doctor, Jeniffer Garner, is very sweet and her performance adds another level of warmth to the film.

To be perfectly honest I can’t really speak highly enough of this film and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The incredibly moving story was littered with funny moments which gave the whole story an incredibly human feeling and if Jared Leto doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor I will be shocked and very annoyed.

More to come.

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