Here are ten more movies I’ve watched for my self-imposed challenge!
DAY 154- THE WINDMILL (2016)
A fun, campy, if sometimes predictable horror film with an original concept. The Windmill follows a group of strangers who all board the same tourist bus in Amsterdam. Their bus breaks down in the middle of the forest, forcing the group to hunker down in an abandoned shed next to a windmill. As their members start being picked off one by one by a mysterious killer, the survivors have to figure out how to get out of this hell they’ve found themselves in and why they’re being targeted.
The story is actually refreshingly original, and I loved the twist the story took. The kills are brutal and gory, and the backstories of the different characters are fascinating. The acting is sub-par, though, and there are some predictable moments and stupid decisions made by the characters. This is a fun watch if you’re a casual horror fan looking for a fun time, but the weak of stomach/horror aficionados may find this film lacking.
DAY 155- PATERSON (2016)
Paterson is the latest film from director Jim Jarmusch, and stars Adam Driver as the titular character. Paterson lives in Paterson, New Jersey, and this film chronicles a week in his life. Every day, he wakes up next to his beautiful wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), goes to work as a bus driver, writes poetry during his lunch break, returns home, walks their dog Marvin, goes to the bar, and goes to bed. The next day finds Paterson resuming his routine, with some minute differences.
This movie revels in the simple routine of human life, while still adding layers to Paterson’s life and uncovering new details about his home life and dreams. Paterson is a film that you’ll either adore for showing an honest portrayal of life, or you’ll find it dreadfully dull, since not much happens besides the cycle of a routine, blue-collar life. I personally adored this film, and connected with both the character of Paterson and his wife Laura. Wanting more out of life, having big dreams, being creative… all of these aspects resonated with me, and made me feel closer to the characters.
DAY 156- THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (2004)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is another brilliantly quirky film from Wes Anderson, and I adored this gem. The movie follows the titular Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), an oceanographer who is on a revenge quest to kill the mysterious jaguar shark who murdered his partner Esteban (Seymour Cassel). Along the way, he meets a man who’s possibly his son (Owen Wilson), struggles to work with his estranged wife Eleanor (Anjelica Huston), and allows a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett) to accompany him on his adventure.
This film follows Anderson’s template: quirky characters, gorgeous visuals, a palette of bright, primary colors, and unique camerawork. If you’re a fan of Anderson’s work or love unique films, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a special treat of a film.
DAY 157- BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999)
WOW. This film totally blew away any preconceived notions I had about it (in the best way possible). Written by the brilliant Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Anomalisa) and directed by Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Her), Being John Malkovich stars John Cusack as Craig, a man who dreams of being a professional puppeteer but has to accept a job as a file clerk. The office where he works his on the 7 1/2th floor (yes, really), and there just happens to be a portal located behind a file cabinet that allows him to slip into the mind of John Malkovich (played by Malkovich himself). He and his wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) quickly decide to use Malkovich’s body to have sex with the woman they both have fallen in love with, Maxine (Catherine Keener).
This film is as bonkers as it sounds, AND IT’S BRILLIANT. I adored how weird and original this movie was, and the acting was superb. I absolutely love Kaufman’s writing and Jonze’s directorial style, and Being John Malkovich blends both of these into a smoothie of cinematic perfection.
DAY 158- KEVIN HART: WHAT NOW? (2016)
I adore Kevin Hart. He’s one of the only comedians who can successfully make me belly laugh (which is a notoriously difficult task). Sadly, this comedy special didn’t live up to my admittedly too-high expectations. Most of the jokes land, but there are a few that just aren’t that funny. Plus, the way too long and unnecessary intro and outro distract from the actual stand-up and feel like padding to make this into a feature-length film. I did laugh so hard that I started crying at many of the jokes, but I feel this would have benefited from having the cinematic aspects trimmed from the special.
DAY 159- HACKSAW RIDGE (2016)
What a powerful film this is. Based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who refused to handle a gun but managed to save the lives of at least seventy-five men during one night of the Battle of Okinawa, this is an emotional, heart-wrenching cinematic achievement. Andrew Garfield is exceptional as Doss, imbuing him with charm and a steely conviction. The supporting cast (including Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, and Teresa Palmer) are uniformly excellent, but Hugo Weaving deserves accolades for his portrayal of Desmond’s father.
Mel Gibson handled this film with grace and respect, and even though this film is brutal and gory, none of it felt gratuitous. He portrays the events that took place as horrific, and the actions of Doss as heroic and a feat of strength and faith. I’ll admit that by the end of the film that the backs of my eyeballs stung and there was a lump lodged in my throat. The bravery of this man is inspirational, and this is a film the you MUST watch.
DAY 160- PLANET TERROR (2007)
One-half of the Grindhouse Double Feature, Planet Terror is the standout of the two films. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, this is a fresh, fun, extremely gross take on the zombie genre with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments. This film knows it’s campy, cheesy fun, and it revels in that. I adored the character of Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), and Rodriguez’s love of balls to the wall action and explosions adds to the delicious tone of the movie. Sure, it’s silly and often puerile, but most importantly, it’s pure, unadulterated FUN.
DAY 161- SLAM (2016)
Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, Slam follows the life of Samuel (Ludovico Tersigni), a sixteen year old who is obsessed with Tony Hawk and dreams of moving to California. Until he meets the beautiful Alice (Barbara Ramella), and ends up knocking her up. Finding himself facing impending fatherhood and the end of his dreams, he must cope with his new reality and figure out what the hell to do.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the novel, and sadly I feel the same way about the film adaptation. It’s cute and charming, but the characters frustrated me and the plot is incredibly predictable (even if you haven’t read the novel). There have been some changes from book to screen, but these aren’t enough to elevate the film beyond average viewing.
DAY 162- THE VOICES (2014)
Directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), The Voices follows Jerry (Ryan Reynolds), a man who works at a bathtub factory, has a crush on his gorgeous coworker Fiona (Gemma Arterton), and returns home every night to his pets. Normal, right? WRONG. Jerry’s pets, Bosco and Mr. Whiskers (both voiced by Reynolds) talk to him, and he talks back to them. After accidentally murdering Fiona, he dismembers her body, only for her decapitated head to come alive and talk to him as well. What follows is a bizarre trip of a film, as Jerry wrestles with his mental illness and his urge to keep killing.
Some will be turned off by how fucking weird this film is, but I loved it for that aspect. Yes, it’s outlandish, crude, and gory, but it’s incredibly fun and well-acted. Plus, Satrapi shows her range with how well she directed this film. A treat for anyone who likes a dish of bizarre cinema with a side of black humor.
DAY 163- HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (2015)
What a charming little gem of a film this is. Hello, My Name is Doris finds the titular character (played by Sally Field) dealing with the recent loss of her mother and the massive crush she has on her coworker (Max Greenfield) who is half her age. As the film progresses, Doris discovers who she really is as she befriends the young people she meets and says yes to everything life throws at her (besides dealing with her suppressed grief). Even though this is a predictable film, Doris is such a charming character and her quirky personality is endearing. A fun, yet thought-provoking, film about what it really means to LIVE and to follow one’s dreams.
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