The Week That Was 8 – 14 October

Welcome to The Week That Was where I take a look back at what I have watched over the last seven days.  Due to a work trip to Sydney and then hosting some visitors back here in Canberra it was a pretty light week and it wasn’t until the weekend that I finally found some time to sit down and catch up on some flicks. The weekend was pretty chilled though and I managed to get in 6 films including a second screening of Looper.

The big news this week was finally biting the bullet and buying myself a Blu Ray player.  Now this was a bit of a turnaround for me and you can read the background to it here, but I am really glad that I did.  My first Blu Ray was the 1975 classic Jaws, which just looked glorious in full high-definition, in particular the party scenes filmed at dusk on the beach.  The danger of transitioning to a new platform is the temptation to upgrade all your back catalogue.  I have had to lay down some strict rules in this regard which you can read here.

Ok, so let’s get into it then and here is the tale of the tape for the week.  As always you can check out my full 2012 watch list here.

Cinema Screenings

Killing Them Softly  – Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik re-team this time to tell the tale a mob enforcer hired to investigate who took down a local card game.  This was a gritty gangster flick with return to form performances from a stella supporting cast including Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Vincent Curtola.  Personally I found the constant political undertones a little too obvious, but the fiscally prudent interactions between Pitt and his mob-handler Jenkins more than made up for this.  Not as good as I expected but well worth a watch. ★★★

Looper – Second time round for this time travel tale with Bruce Willis and JGL which I think I enjoyed more than my first viewing.  So much so that it goes up a star. ★★★★★

Couch Screenings

Jaws – My favourite film of all time and Bruce looks even better in full high def goodness. ★★★★★

2 Days In New York – Julie Delphy continues her 2 Days of series, this time alongside the straight acting Chris Rock in his best role for years.  Delphy apparently wrote the role with Rock in mind and the chemistry between them is evident with echos of Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise/Sunset.  Whilst a little stereotypical at times, an enjoyable romp but not one to stick in the memory too long.   ★★★

I Love You Phillip Morris – Jim Carrey again proves that he has proper acting chops in this engaging true life tale of Steven Russell, a gay man who comes out in his mid 40s and turns to crime to fund his extravagant lifestyle as he realises that being gay is really expensive.   Think Catch Me If You Can mixed with Priscilla Queen Of Desert. ★★★

Margin Call – Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons are the real highlights of this timely tale which, over a 24 hour period, follows key individuals of an investment bank at the start of the global financial crisis.   A touch TV movie like, but still really quite watchable.  I have no idea why Demi Moore was in it though.  ★★★

TV Shows

Breaking Bad – Finally finished off Season 4 so now the cold turkey really begins.  I am intrigued to see what they do in Season 5 (which will be the last) as come the end of this season it seemed to reach a natural conclusion.  To help me through the wait I have ordered Season 6 of Dexter from the UK.


Two albums purchased this week including The Sapphires Soundtrack, which due to it being unavailable in the UK iTunes store I actually bought on CD, which must be the first CD I have bought in close to five years.  After a couple of listens I am itching to see the film again on the big screen.  The second was the latest from Pink The Truth About Love, another raw and autobiographical album which paints a turbulent picture of life at home.

2012 Score Sheet

Cinema Screenings – 45
Couch Screenings – 61
Total (new films) – 106
Re-watches – 40
2012 Total film count – 146
How about you guys, seen anything good?

Blu Ray: A Turnaround In Perspective

One of my very first posts of this site was DVD or Download where I summarised that I could remember the exact moment that I moved from buying films on DVD to purely downloading films instead.  The moment in question was when my eldest daughter managed to figure out how to open the DVD player.  That was game over for the DVDs there and then.

Over recent months though I have had gradual change of heart.  As I mentioned in the earlier post scrolling through a screen has none of the tactile attachment of films on a shelf and indeed almost none of the extras that come with disks.  This has lead me to feel increasingly detached from my movie collection and as I watched the ever lowering price of Blu Rays and indeed Blu Ray players I began to question my original decision.

So as I was strolling around JB Hi-Fi yesterday I came across a region free Blu Ray player for a smidgen over $100. This was very tempting. Region free is very important to me as even though I live in Australia most of my library comes from when I was in the UK, therefore  I need one player to play everything.  As I looked around the store I also noticed the plethora of Blu Rays for $15, as well as deals such as 2 for $20 and 2 for $30.  These prices were cheaper than download, better quality (1080 v 720) and come with all the extras.  A light suddenly came on in my head and the next thing I knew money was exchanged and out the shop I strolled with my shiny new region free Blu Ray player under my arm.

So onto yet another platform it would appear.   This is always a dangerous time for me as there is the constant temptation to update your collection in its entirety.  Luckily though the new player will also play and upscale DVDs which should help to resist much of the temptation, but even so I will still need to stick to the strict rules which are:-

– Only new films can be bought on Blu Ray

– The only exception to rule one are films listed in my personal top 20. These can be upgraded as I think it is important to try and own the best quality you can for your favourite films.

– TV shows cannot be bought on Blu Ray; DVD versions are more than adequate for this.

– I need to figure out a why of hooking up  a shelf to ensure the new player is out of reach of sticky fingers.

If I keep to the above then I should be fine.

So the only thing left now was to celebrate and what better way than by christening the new player.  But what film was it to be? Which film would be my first ever Blu Ray purchase?  As you tell from the picture up top I went for the anniversary edition of Jaws which is probably my favourite film of all time, therefore in full accordance with the rules laid out above.

The Week That Was 31 September – 7 October

Welcome the the Week That Was where I take a look back at what I have watched over the last seven days.  Due to work and home pressures this week got off to a slow start but certainly picked up pace towards the end and saw me pass the 100 new movies mark for the year.  I still hope to hit 150 by the years end, CIFF will certainly help in this regard but I reckon I will still need to put in some solid screen time in November and December.

Talking of CIFF (The Canberra International Film Festival), I finally locked in my schedule and bought the tickets so there is no going back now.  As always there were some casualties along the way and you can read about my CIFF Casualties here.  I am hoping to do some CIFF related posts in the run up to the festival highlighting in a bit more detail the films I hope to watch.

Ok, so let’s get into it then and here is the tale of the tape for the week.  As always you can check out my full 2012 watch list here.

Cinema Screenings

Arbitrage  – Richard Gere stars in this solid thriller about a Hedge Fund manager whose life gets turned upside down by a car crash with unexpected consequences and the financial pressures of trying to save his company.  This was an impressive return to form for the Silver Fox (who appears to be getting younger) as well as Tim Roth who plays a cop investigating the car crash. Not quite as good as I expected but solid enough.  Won’t make the top ten of the year though.  ★★★

Couch Screenings

The Dictator – Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest ‘comedy’ about a Middle Eastern dictator who travels to New York to address the UN.  An offensive, unfunny and poorly judged film.  Cohen needs to look again at what he is doing as he is clearly on the wrong track at present. However once I realised that Anna Farris, who plays the female lead, was the voice from Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs it made the film slightly more palatable, mainly as it reminded me how much fun Meatballs was. ★ 

Guns, Girls and Gambling – The girls over at Reel Insight recently ran a feature on is there an actor for which you will watch anything they are in?  Well for me it appears that it may be Christian Slater as that was the sole reason for renting this cheap Tarantino knock off about 5 Elvis impersonators who get caught up in a heist.  Not good at all, but better than The Dictator.  ★★

The Woman In Black – Or as it could be entitled Harry Potter meets Home Alone.  However Harry has clearly grown up and Daniel Radcliffe puts in a measured and mature performance in this tense hammer horror.  Considering that for a large part of the film it is just Radcliffe inside a house, this shows he can carry a film outside of the franchise.  Beware though, jumpy stuff in places.  ★★★

Marley – I needed to chill out a bit after The Woman In Black and Kevin Macdonald’s raw, honest and compelling documentary which deals more on the man rather than the music was just the tonic.  This is up there with Senna as one the best docs I have seen in recent years.  ★★★★

TV Shows

Breaking Bad – It was a good day on Monday when I found that Season 4 was on Bigpond  download.  10 episodes rattled off in a  week.  Already getting concerned where I will get my next fix from.  Truly excellent television.

2012 Score Sheet

Cinema Screenings – 44
Couch Screenings – 58
Total (new films) – 102
Re-watches – 38
2012 Total film count – 140
How about you guys, seen anything good?

My CIFF Casualty List

After a lot of pondering, my CIFF schedule is now locked in and can be seen in full here.  As with any schedule there are inevitably casualties due to screening clashes and as I am quickly learning you just can’t see everything.

Therefore I have had to regretfully say farewell to :-

The Angels’s Share – I could only make the opening night screening which was $50 which seems a bit steep for a film that I can rent from iTunes for a tenth of the price

Save Yer Legs – Closing night screening and again priced at $50, decided to take the cheaper option and see Paris-Manhattan instead.

Smashed – Clashed with Room 237 which I was very keen to see.  This was a tough call.  Still not convinced I have got it right.

The Shining – Clashed with Like Someone In Love and whilst it would have been great to see The Shining on the big screen, especially directly after Room 237, I had to prioritize seeing new films over rewatches.

There is also a three-day block in the middle of the festival that I am missing due to a wedding of a good friend which knocks out a whole range of films, but the biggest being Monsieur Lazhar; probably my biggest casualty of all.

The Week That Was 23 – 31 September

Welcome to another Week That Was.  Quite a lot has happened over the last seven days, so lets get straight into it.

First off the Canberra International Film Festival which runs from 31 October – 11 November was officially launched.  The programme is varied with a mixture of strong Australian films alongside plenty of international fare.  I spent a good part of Monday trawling through the programme and even though I will miss out on the middle weekend I reckon I can still get in 20 films.  You can see my provisional schedule here.

Secondly, as you can tell from the rather natty new red badge on the sidebar, I officially became a member of the Large Association of Movie Blogs or The Lamb for short.  I have been reading other Lamb blogs for a couple of years now so it feels good to finally (and officially) be part of the flock.

And thirdly but most importantly, my youngest turned three this week which we celebrated with a Tinker Bell themed birthday party and a trip to see Tinker Bell: The Secret Of The Wings at the cinema.  Having 18 kids round for the party was truly exhausting, but worth it.

In amongst all of this I managed to get back into the cinema again, so here is the tale of the tape from the last week.  As always you can check out my full 2012 watch list here:-

Cinema Screenings

Beasts Of The Southern Wild  – I went in with very high expectations after reading nothing but glowing reviews for this gritty, intelligent and highly emotional drama about a family in the Southern Delta dealing with all that life and Mother Nature has to throw at them.  I am pleased to say that this held up incredibly well to its billing and will no doubt be in my top ten of the year.  Highly Recommended

The Expendables 2  – Exactly the opposite to the above.  I went in with very low expectations after reading nothing but damming reviews of this sequel to the 2010 ensemble 80s action reunion, but this time with added Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme.  Unfortunately this also lived up to its billing with a script full of badly timed puns and cringeworthy cliches, which when coupled with badly executed and over the top action set pieces, produces a film very wide of the mark and not even close to the classic action films it is trying to imitate.  Jean Claude Van Damme was great though.  Approach With Caution

Looper – An intelligent and highly entertaining sci-fi  drama which just about stays on the right side of believable.  Look out for the review later this week. Still can’t believe how good Emily Blunt was, this woman can do no wrong.   Highly Recommended 

Tinker Bell: The Secret Of The Wings – Part three in the Tinker Bell story and this time Tinkers gets all rebellious and crosses the border to the winter side.  Don’t worry she doesn’t go all Darth Vader like but manages to get into a few scrapes along the way.  Another fun and really quite watchable tale which went down a storm with the girls.  Watch It 

Couch Screenings

Jeff Who Lives At Home – I didn’t like this Duplass brothers film about a stay at home Jason Segal who after being sent on an errand by his mother embarks on a journey to try and find his own destiny.  I just couldn’t connect (or care about) any of the characters and the plinky plonky (attempting to be ever so indie) score, alongside the awful script almost had me tearing my hair out.   Approach With Caution.

The Loved Ones – Well, was this a surprise on the same level as Holy Motors from a few weeks back.  Went in knowing nothing about the film except that it was an High School Aussie film which I assumed was going to be a comedy drama type thing.  Oh no, not even close.  This turned out to be an exploitation flick, which bordered on torture porn on occasion, about how far a young girl and her father will go if you turn down an invitation to the prom.    Probably great if you like that type of thing; me not so much.  Approach With Caution (quite literally)

TV Shows

Nothing new started this week.  Trying to narrow down what my next series will be.  I suspect either season 4 of Breaking Bad or Season 5 of Dexter.

2012 Score Sheet

Cinema Screenings – 43
Couch Screenings – 54
Total (new films) – 97
Re-watches – 38
2012 Total film count – 135
How about you guys, seen anything good?