Merry Christmas – Week in Review

So here’s a new thing I’ll be doing primarily because there have been a few movies that I just don’t feel like writing reviews for or that I won’t write reviews for because I’m doing something else with them (i.e. the Bond Series).

If you ever want a head start on these you can check out my film diary at letterboxd here to see what films I’ve seen that week (I promise it will be updated with obsessive frequency). I’ll be posting these every week on Sunday and covering all the films and television I’ve seen that week with the occasional book or graphic novel I’m sure. The other plan is around genres where I want to keep running lists of my favourites. More on that later. 

This is going to be a part of my more frequent posting and will hopefully include a day of links (inspired by thefilmexperience.net) to articles and videos and other things related to film television and culture. These articles could be recent or they could be academic texts from decades ago. 

Any ways onto this week. 

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This week can be divided into Bond films, Oscar Bait, and David O. Russell films. 

For the Bond films this week has been excellent. I watched through Michael G. Wilson’s tenure as writer and producer and it shows how important his presence is to my appreciation of the series. He was a writer for For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, and Licence to Kill, and a producer on every film of the Brosnan and Craig eras. He has an obvious taste for depth in Bond films as all of those films are darker and have more character development than most of the films before them. On my ranked list only three films from before that era make the top 10 which to me makes Michael G. Wilson one of the most important people to the Bond Franchise. More details on the individual films will come when I finish the rest of my posts on the series. 

The Oscar Bait films from this week were American Hustle, 12 Years a SlaveLee Daniel’s The Butler, The Wolf of Wall Street and Saving Mr Banks. I don’t feel like writing much about Banks because it was so over blown and over done in every way that I want to forget about it as quickly as possible. It features my second most hated Emma Thompson performance (aside from Peter’s Friends) and I would rather watch Mary Poppins any day of the week. 

Finally I started going through all of David O. Russell’s films after seeing American Hustle and that has been an enlightening experience. Prior to The Fighter I had only seen I ❤ Huckabees so my opinion was obviously tainted to the weird side of his filmography. Silver Linings Playbook was one of my favourite films of 2012 and while my opinion is definitely mixed on Hustle I wanted to see his first three films and then watch the others again so I could see what David O. Russell was really about. First there was Spanking The Monkey which was an undeniably weird film about incest and was Russell’s take on the coming of age drama.

Next there was Flirting With Disaster which is an idiosyncratic take on the family film, however this one was laugh out loud funny and has been in my head ever since. It has one of the best ensemble casts ever and is probably my favourite Ben Stiller performance (although that is not saying a whole lot).

Following was Russell’s first really mainstream film in Three Kings. Definitely still a Russell film but this one is in Iraq just after the first Gulf War ended and is a satirical take on the action war film. Its not a funny film, but it says something kind of timeless about  American military intervention which is very well done.

Then I moved into the films I had already seen with I Heart Huckabees. Its such a bizarre film but if you can stand listening to dialogue that you won’t understand on the first (or second or maybe third) viewing, its a fun ride that leaves me feeling happier than I often leave movies. 

The first year that I got into watching movies seriously was 2010 and so The Fighter was on my list for that year. Going back to it I couldn’t remember exactly why I loved it, but its truly a David O. Russell film. While the film is about boxing, the film is primarily about a family and relationships. So while the boxing scenes are expertly done (better than any Rocky film and on par with Raging Bull), its the acting that makes the film special. The relationships involved are so interesting and so real. Mark Whalberg and Amy Adams are a couple worthy of David O. Russell’s track record and the two of them feel like full real people. Melissa Leo’s character is a twist on the neurotic mother with fleshed out desires and emotions. Christian Bale is the standout performance here with the energy and verve to make his scenes electric despite how desperate a character he is. 

Then there’s Silver Linings Playbook which I think best merges the idiosyncrasies of Russell’s early films and the mainstream success he’s achieved since Huccabees. The film is tightly written and perfectly acted but the real strength is in how he takes a pretty average romantic comedy story and makes it electric again. 

Here’s the ranking of his films now that I’ve seen them all recently. 

Finally, I promise later review posts will not be this long, the holidays are just when I get the best chance to watch a multitude of films. 

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