The Film Project 2015 – off and running.

I have to say I’m a lot less prepared for this year’s film project than I have been in previous years. I have planned quite a few challenges, got my lists going and got in some new DVD’s and Blu Ray’s to watch. I really need to sit down and plan my link challenges, only managed one of them so far. I’ve got this month to do that.

I have a good range of cast and crew challenges, though Spielberg and John Williams are a little bit of a cheat, yet I’ve decided to do all of Spielberg’s films, I mean it’s Spielberg it’s wrong not too. Clint Eastwood is an actor I’ll be paying a lot of attention too, and Marco Beltrami as well in my composer challenges, has a good body of work.

As for my personal challenges the horror themed ones, vampires, werewolves and The Devil will all be big challenges, hoping to do a 100 for the first two, as I don’t think there are 100 Devil films to have a go at. There are some which will take care of themselves, From Page to Screen and some which tied up with other challenges nicely. Having a World Pot for Spain and Pedro Alamovodar films is a bonus.

the-woman-in-black-angel-of-death-400x242So I opened this years project with 2 films at the cinema, Woman in Black – Angel of Death and Unbroken. My review of the Woman in Black is over at Real Reel Scares. Both got me challenges, with Marco Beltrami scoring Woman in Black and Unbroken brought me 3 challenges, From Page to Screen, Actresses directing films and Biopic’s. A really good start to the campaign.

I did really enjoy both films.

Right back the planning!

The Film Project 2014 – Over and done with.

Well I had so many plans, write a great blog about my exploits with the Project last year, but I just couldn’t pull it off. Just couldn’t fit it all in, I mean Decembers challenge, Winter Blockbusters I did in two days, The 3 Hobbit films, (the first 2 extended) and then Mission Impossible 4 in 1 day followed by the two Sherlock Holmes films; the Robert Downey Jr ones and then finishing with Tron Legacy the next night. With still 20 films left to watch after these for my 1000 films I just couldn’t let up. I won’t be watching a 1000 films this year.

Yet it’s been a superb project for me, with Martin and Steve joining in again it’s been a great fun discussing the vast range of films we’ve seen. The challenges we had really allowed us to explore some interesting film topics, from a range of years. But that’s the beauty of the project it really pushes us to look for new films, or revisit films we’ve not seen in a long time.

I have no real favourite challenges, I’ve really enjoyed them all. However the 100 Martial Arts films in a month was brilliant. It woke me up to the brilliance of Donnie Yen! Having done 2 years of 100+ horror films I doubt I’ll be doing this again. The made in the 80’s became a really good challenge, it allowed me to re-watch some of my favourite films, clocking up another 100 titles in that challenge.

My Bacon link challenge fell apart, when I came to watch JFK and found I didn’t even own it. With time running out I had to just watch anything I could which was linked to Super. This meant I didn’t end the challenge on a Bacon film!

I completed the #unlimitedcard challenge at the Cineworld Cinemas ending the year on 219 with the Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies being my final film of the year. This will be another challenge I won’t be trying to beat – though if it happens I’ll take it.

So that’s Project 14 done and dusted.

Must do Better!

Well that fell apart! I did say I was going to be more active on my blog; HA! Trouble is I’ve been far too busy watching films, going to film festivals and setting up a genre based review site with 3 friends from Frightfest to do any writing on here (I’m making excuses I know!). However do check out Real Reel Scares, it’s not bad at all, if I do say so myself.

As for The film Project 14, I’ve not given up on it. It still drives my film watching even though I did complete all my personal and cast challenges in June! Project 15 is underway, challenges have been drawn, planning in progress and a couple more have joined in. Though I’m not sure they really understand what they have let themselves in for.

number_1000The problem was I’ve got hung up on my 1000 films for the year challenge, which isn’t really a challenge of the project, it’s just become a personal challenge for me. Also doing a couple of 100 films a month challenges, Martial Arts and Horror, doesn’t allow much time for anything else. Especially writing about them. I’ve also decided to do 100 films made in the 80’s, which I’ve really enjoyed doing, but this is a yearly challenge and much easy to pull off then the monthly ones.

I’m currently on 81 made in the 80’s and 949 films for the year, both are in reach, especially the 80’s one. If I failed to see the 1000 I would only have to try and do it next year and I don’t want to do that. As well as this major goal, there were the 209 Cineworld films I had to try and beat this year! Which I did at the end of November, so I’m hoping to finish this challenge on 220. Another challenge I will not be attempting to beat next year!

The-Lost-Boys-David-e1343767482755As for next year’s Project I have some restrictions now, monthly challenges will be a maximum of 40 films. Cast and Personal challenges I am going to pick a few to do extended challenges for, Vampires and Werewolf’s I will be doing a 100 films for. While I plan to do the majority of films Clint Eastwood has acted in; there are quite a few I’ve not seen, or not seen in a very long time.

My highlight challenges in the monthly;

Cineworld Retrospective – where I can see any film I’ve watched at Cineworld, that’s over 1000 films to pick from!
Birthdays * 3 – one of my favourites from this year’s project.
Cannes – any film that has shown at Cannes

In the Link’s section I have;

Genre Link – 12 films all from the action genre with standard links.
Music Band – Start with a Band’s song in a film and then move to the next film by another song from that film.

From the Actors /Actresses section;

Jarted Leto, Clint Eastwood, Janet Leigh and Ziyi Zhang

crime-movies-dirty-harry-callahan-clint-eastwood-via-theedgeoftheframeI also have Steven Speilberg in my Director list, another one I think I will be doing his full catalogue. (And in order!)

As for Personal challenges – I have so many good ones!

Vampires, Film Noir, Werewolfs, Spanish films, Once a thief, Monster Movies and They came from Stephen king.

I might do a 100 Spanish films as well, as I have Pedro Alamovodar, I may do all his films as well. So I’m not going to rush to complete challenges, though I will try and tie them together as best I can; in February I have 60’s movies, a perfect time to do my Janet Leigh films and start my Clint Eastwood challenge.

So back to the planning and film watching.

Personal Challenge – Female Directors – Completed

Men dominate the directors chair; but should they? Some of the work produced by female directors is excellent, and this was a challenge I was looking forward to.

One of the most famous female director’s is Kathryn Bigelow, even more after her infamous Oscar victory over her Ex-Husband James Cameron. Funnily enough I didn’t start with that film and watched her superb cop thriller Point Break (1991) instead. Keanu Reeves (one of my cast challenges) and Patrick Swayze head the cast as Reeve’s cop goes after a bunch of surfing bank robbers. Boasting one of the finest foot chases on film and some rather fantastic surfing cinematography this was a great film to start the challenge with.

One Day (2011) directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson was a little all over the place. While I like Sturgess not really sure he was right for this role. Hathaway was very good though, even with her dodgy accent, she just couldn’t settle on one. It was a little bit of a let down really.

The Tempest (2010) directed by Julie Taymor and starring Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, Djimon Hounsou was an interesting adaptation of the play. Having not seen the play or any other adaptation I did enjoy this; to a degree. Like many play’s sometimes it’s quite difficult to keep up with what’s going on! I had that problem here at times! I will be rewatching it.

Whip it (2009) directed by and starring Drew Barrymore. I thoroughly enjoyed this, coming of age drama centered around the sport of roller derby. A decent cast and a decent script combine to make a sharp and witty comedy. Page in the lead role delivers a fine performance, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this. If you’ve not seen it check it out.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986) directed by Penny Marshall wasn’t bad at all. I have seen it a long time ago and while nothing had stuck in my memory, I did have a good time watching it. Whoopi Goldberg (a cast challenge) was very good. The script was very funny at times and I don’t really recall it having as much bad language as it had in it, that did surprise me. Not bad at all.

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) directed by Mary Harron, Harron of American Psycho fame, and a film I will be adding to this challenge before the year is out; directs a biopic picture about Page’s rise to fame as one of America’s first sex icons. While interesting at times it never really gets out of first gear, just seems to plod along; maybe it’s toned done, maybe the story of Page wasn’t really that exciting, I’m not sure. I certainly didn’t dislike the film, like I said it was interesting at times I think Gretchen Mol’ssolid performance as Page saves the film in the end. If you are interested in the furore that the bondage pictures of Page caused then yes it’s worth having a look; I didn’t know she had done material like that, then again I didn’t know very much about her to start with.

My final film of the challenge was Monster (2003). Directed by Patty Jenkins, the film tells the story of Aileen Wuornos, played by Charlize Theron; a prostitute who becomes one of America’s most notorious serial killers. A film I could also use for my real life serial killers challenge. This was a first watch for me, and I have to say Theron is outstanding, with Christina Ricci also putting in a strong performance. Bleak and powerful I did like this film a lot. It’s not something I’d sit back and enjoy once a year, that’s for sure, but one I’m glad I’ve now seen. Theron’s Oscar is a worthy one, infact all the accolades are which she picked up for this role.

A great finish to the challenge, and I’ve still got a few more planned; The Woodsman, The Hurt Locker, Near Dark, A League of Their Own and Lost In Translation to name a few.

Back on the blog…..

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any material. That’s to say I’ve not been at the cinema or watching films since, oh I have. I’ve watched a lot; completing all the personal and cast challenges in July. I know have some serious work to catch up my posts. Frightfest has come and gone, where I did my first interview with Director and Actress Jessica Cameron and actor Ryan Kiser for  the Failedcritics site; which I have started to write for a lot more. Tweeting my experience at the festival for them and then writing some articles around the festival and some reviews of the films. 

Planning next years project, new ideas, new challenges and features. Trying to making it more personal to the people taking part, now we can select some challenges which you really want to have a go at; even bin some that you don’t like the look off. We are getting ready to select the challenges soon as well. 

While I’m still on target to beat last years unlimited record of 209 films, it’s going to be close. But with a summer filled with great films I’ve been back to watch some of them a few times, 1 film I have now seen 12 times, and my twins have seen it 6 times as well. What can I say I loved it!

So in the next few weeks I plan to catch up my challenges and share next years ideas….

Personal Challenge – Italian Films – Completed

Being quite a fan of foreign films, I was glad to pick up a couple of country challenges, Italy and Russia. Either country I hadn’t seen many films for, so was looking forward to them.

Having only 1 Italian film in my collection, I had to buy a few and keep an eye out on TV for any; and to be honest a few did turn up before the project started on Film 4.

Malena PosterOpening the challenge with Malena (2000)  directed by Giuseppe Tornatore and starring the fantastic Monica Bellucci. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, considering it’s content and harsh betrayal of life in a war-torn town. Bellucci in the title role is superb, around her the rest of the cast shine. The cinematography is stunning and it’s a joy to watch. 

Next was Il Postino (The Postman – 1994) directed by Michael Radford and starring Massimo Troisi and Philippe Noiret. Another enjoyable film, with a powerful emotional ending. Troisi is a delight in the role of the simple Postman who is content with his life, but wants nothing more than to fall in love with the local beauty. Noiret helps him in his task and they become unlikely friends. As with Malena the cinematography is superb.

Possible one of the most Iconic images from Italian Cinema.

Possibly one of the most Iconic images from Italian Cinema.

La Dolce Vita (1960) directed by Federico Fellini and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg. While I did like it, it did feel over long, dragging in a number of places, but still a extremely good film. (It also counted for my IMDB 250 challenge). 

Red Desert (1964) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Monica Vitti and Richard Harris. Was a film relying on it’s stunning cinematography, it’s bold use of colour and greys along with it’s strong use of objects. Not as entertaining as the other films, but quite remarkable in other aspects, a film to watch maybe more than twice!

italian_03Life is Beautiful (1997) directed and also starringRoberto Benigni this has to be my favourite film of the challenge; while heartbreaking in it’s ending, it’s upbeat joy and Benigni’s fantastic acting and direction made this a joy to watch. (Another from the IMDB 250 challenge).

My challenge ended quicker than I anticipated when I went to a 11 film all-nighter, with two Italian films on the play list. Blood and Black Lace (1964) and Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man (1976). The first was a fore runner to the Giallo films (so I’ve been told) and I did enjoy it more than I thought I would (not a fan of Giallo). While the other an Italian crime action film was great, for all the wrong reasons; may have been even funnier with the dubbed version. (Though apparently the score wasn’t as good!)

A very good challenge and one I’ll be adding for next years challenge though I still have a few to watch including Cinema Paradiso for this year.

Personal Challenge – I Directed Ridley Scott – Completed

I enjoy most of Ridley Scott’s films, and this was a good challenge for me; with a decent back catalog to pick films from, a challenge I was going to enjoy.

Legend (1985) starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry. Was my opening film and one I don’t actual recall seeing completely, overall I thought it was a solid fantasy film, maybe let down now by it’s effects. Cruise is good while Curry seems to be channeling Frank-N-Furter into his Darkness character and Mia Sara is always a delight to watch! 

Black Rain (1989) starring Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura. Really enjoyed this, maybe it’s a little underrated maybe? Anyway decent 80’s thriller with a solid cast and some decent action. 

Gladiator (2000) starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen. While enjoying it last year (first watch) on the 2nd viewing I didn’t have the same enthusiasm for it. While Crowe is very good, I actually found it quite dull; maybe watching it so soon was the problem. I also didn’t like the score as much as I thought I had. Yet it’s still a decent film, just not as great as I thought it was.

Robin Hood (2010) starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett. Many don’t like this film; yet I do, fair enough it does have a few problems, mainly accents; mainly Crowe’s accent but aside that I feel it’s a decent story with some decent action sequences. I did enjoy it again!

Another Crowe film and one I hadn’t seen before is A Good Year (2006) starring Abbie Cornish, Albert Finney . Really enjoyed this life lesson film, which a great performance from Crowe. One I could watch again.

scot_04This challenge would not be complete without both Alien (1979) and Bladerunner (1982) while not as keen on Bladerunner as many people are; Alien is just outstanding. While I do enjoy Bladerunner and it’s a 4/5 film for me I just don’t get it’s hype.

Alien then was my favourite film of the challenge, and I’m not sure there is a better film to come. I did see Black Hawk Down as well but that ended up in other challenges; this is a fine film as well.




Under the Skin – Cinema Review

There are times when I go to the cinema in the wrong frame of mind, usually when I’ve seen too much footage; heard very negative comments or sometimes I’m just not in the mood (though this is a very rare occurrence).

Under the skin would be a film that any state of mind other than fully focused, intent on what I’m watching and committed too the cause; then I really would have disliked it.  Yet after so many positive comments and talking to one of the staff at the cinema; who thought it was amazing, I really was in the right frame of mind to watch it.

I wasn’t going to write about it, I sometimes struggle to express myself in regards to a film like this, but it’s played on my mind more than any film this year. I really can’t put my finger on why or what I liked about it so much; it just haunts me all the time.

The premise is simple,it’s just not presented in a simple manner, or even a conventional manner. It’s never really complicated, it just never really spells it out for you. It’s littered with little clues, hints at what you are watching, though never enough to allow you to relax into the film. I was always on edge, never sure what the plot was going to do next; Jonathan Glazer builds the film slowly, crafting layers as it goes; teasing with clues, but each time I thought I knew where it was going it just changed direction. It came to pass that I just stopped trying to guess the outcome and let the story unfold.

under-the-skinVisually this film is stunning, from the strong imagery; like the extreme close up of an eye, a swill of blood and guts, bright lights, black viscous liquid to the dank forests of Scotland; even down to the brilliant angles and camera work while we travel round Glasgow in the van. It always kept my attention, and once the film breaks away from the bleakness of the Glaswegian streets to the even bleaker countryside; we are treated to some wonderful cinematography, as Glazer allows us to watch the spray from a lake whipped into a spiral by the wind.  Accompanying this visual onslaught is a cacophony of sound, giving the impression that Laura (Johansson) has very sensitive hearing, the ambient sounds of everyday life captured and amplified to give this effect and what an effect it is.On top of this is the powerful score; a collection of pieces of music which work beautifully within the film though not something I could listen to on it’s own.

Under_the_Skin-992104808-largeTo a degree it’s quite hard to discuss what the film is about, without really ruining it. Even knowing what Johansson’s character is takes away some of the mystery really, a mystery which Glazer unveils in a slow and deliberate manor. Aside Laura’s journey; and it is a journey of discovery in the end, Glazer allows us to witness society through her eyes, the good, the bad, the loneliness, the bleakness, the happiness; Laura takes it in, and slowly it does break her steadfast will.

Uniquely filmed, gorilla style which adds to it’s freshness; many of the men in the film are unknowingly filmed (they are told afterwards) as they are lured into the van. One scene is Johansson just being followed as she walks through a crowed shopping mall, it just gives it a chilling realism many films fail to attain.

For me this is Scarlett Johansson’s finest film, it is so far removed from anything I’ve seen her do before, a perfect piece of casting, and a brave and bold decision from Johansson to do it.

I really hope to see this film again at the cinema, otherwise I’ll be buying it on Blu Ray on release; i enjoyed it that much.

(5/5) – Top of the pile of 2014 for me.

Aliens Amongst Us – Challenge Complete

An interesting challenge, and one I thought would have a relatively large collection of films to choose from. While the selection is quite large it’s not that easy getting hold of some of them. That said I’ve managed to catch a couple at the cinema, Almost Human played at Glasgow Frightfest and Under the Skin the closing film for the Glasgow film festival; though I saw it a few weeks later.

Under the Skin, my favourite film of the challenge so far, and my number 1 film of the year as well; was a film which caught me by surprise. I knew it wasn’t a run of the mill sci-fi film, though I wasn’t prepared for what I actually saw or heard. Scarlett Johansson is incredible in the role of the Alien preying on lonely/single men in Glasgow. Visually captivating, with an audio intensity making it very different to most films; disturbing, beautiful, melancholy and mesmerizing at times, this was an incredible film experience.

The rest of the films, were all re-watches except for Almost Human. A film which could have been a great low budget sci-fi horror film, except it had a dire script which left the whole thing rather flat, and by the time it got going I had lost interest.


Lifeforce I’ve always enjoyed, and the Blu Ray from Arrow has an incredible visual and audio transfer; plus it’s a nice looking Steelbook. The Faculty I really enjoyed as well, with a decent cast and some dated CGI at the end this was still worth my time.

Not much else stood out; I am going to continue this challenge, there are some really good films out there, They Live, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Starman; the last two I haven’t seen at all. Obviously Species though I’m not sure if I will progress with them after the first one!

James Bond – March Challenge


It seemed only right to have a month dedicated to one of the greatest film franchises every committed to the big screen. March was my month; so I decided to do the complete series; in just 007 days!

I am a fan of the series, the character, the actor’s who have played the role, but I’m no die hard. I can see it’s faults, Connery isn’t my favourite, neither is Goldfinger the best film for me. Some of the Moore films are really poor, though some are among my favourites as well. I had a stand off with Dalton’s film for years; just couldn’t bring myself to watch them, just thought Dalton was all wrong for the part; how wrong was I?

What I was looking forward to was the intensity of seeing them all so close together, it brings home the differences each actor brought to the role; the formulaic approach the studio adopted after the first 2 films. The influences of the times, Live and Let Die borders on Blaxploitation, Moore’s fall into that generic 80’s comedy, nearly becoming a spoof of the films in the end; the double take pigeon isn’t the sort of thing I want to see in a Bond film!


While with each new incarnation of Bond, came the stronger films, the full reboot should we say is my favourite set of films; yes even Quantum of Solace has grown on me the more I’ve watched it. Yet it is still a massive dip in comparison to Skyfall and Casino Royale.

skyfallSo let’s start at my favourite Bond – Daniel Craig; I really wasn’t sure about his appointment, but I was hoping he would prove me wrong. Well he did, after 20 minutes of Casino Royale I was happy with Craig, happy with the what they were doing with the reboot; happy that they had given Bond a new lease of life. For me they sealed the deal with the last line of the film, when he announces his name in the trademark fashion followed by the classic Bond theme. Then they dropped the ball; Quantum of Solace just seemed so out of step with what Casino Royale had given me. I was disappointed, but I’m over that and seeing it again wasn’t so bad. Sam Mendes however delivers a film that for me is better than Casino Royale, Skyfall is my favourite Bond film period –  here is my Letterboxd review.

Again Dalton was an actor I didn’t feel was the right choice, so much so it was nearly 15 years before I watched his 2 films. How wrong I was; Dalton’s Bond (my 2nd favourite) is a class act, darker, gritty and actually looks the part. I really enjoyed watching The Living Daylights and License to Kill again, and would have been happy with Dalton doing a couple more.

Bond_-_Sean_Connery_-_ProfileConnery who the majority of people think is the quintessential Bond, though I don’t think that. True he brought the character to life; his delivery of Bond’s introduction was one of the best and he carried the character with ease. Yet i do think he got quite bored of it all, very evident in Diamonds are Forever, a film I used to think I liked a lot, but after this re-watch, its actually rather poor. On the whole Connery’s first four films are all decent efforts, Dr No’s lack of back story, leaving Bond’s character a mystery to the audience was a great idea. It also didn’t drag the story into a typical origin film. I had forgotten how good From Russia with Love was, Goldfinger and Thunderball while not fantastic films are the first to really set the formula that the rest of the series followed. Goldfinger was the best Bond villain of the early films.

Lazenby has to be the unluckiest actor to play Bond; On her Majesty’s Secret Service isn’t a bad film at all, and Lazenby’s Bond is pretty good. While taking the Bond Formula, they actually did more with it. The villain (Savalas) was on a par with Goldfinger, the action was great, giving Bond a heart possible the films biggest fault; and maybe sealed Lazenby’s fate!

Brosnan came in after Dalton and along with Martin Campbell on directing duties they deliver a great Bond film in Goldeneye. I really liked this and Brosnan was a solid Bond, from looks to the one-liners. Having thought Goldeneye was my favourite Brosnan film, I actually found I enjoyed Tomorrow Never Dies more; 2 for 2. Then came The World is Not Enough, while not has bad as some of the Moore films, I could sense the downward turn in quality. Die Another Day continued the slide spectacularly taking the Bond franchise to it’s lowest point for me; my worst film of the series.

Moore’s Bond campaign started very well; Live and Let Die is amongst my favourite films, while The Man with Golden Gun isn’t as good, it has been a long time since I’ve seen it. I enjoyed watching it again. The Spy who Loved me was also a good watch, aside the Ashton Martin, the white Lotus is my favourite car! It then becomes a roller coaster of good and bad films, with A View to A Kill actually derailing the whole thing. It got to the point where I was quite bored of Moore’s Bond.


While there are a number of films I could watch over and over again, there are a few which I doubt I’ll ever load into my DVD player; A view to a kill, Die another day and Diamonds are Forever are easily my worst films.

Now as for the Bond song, one of the worst is Quantum of Solace’s, closely followed by Die Another Day. I never liked Casino Royale’s when I first heard it but that has grown on me quite a lot. Goldfinger and Diamonds are forever are great, though I think Moore’s collection of films had the stronger title songs. Live and Let die For your Eyes only, even A view to a kill are all very strong, but my 2 favourite James Bond themes are; Skyfall and Nobody does it better.

A great monthly challenge – though I doubt I’ll ever do all 23 in 7 days again!