Watched – Week 5, 2021

The Revenant (2015)

Film

The Revenant (2015). Rewatch. The film that Leonardo DiCaprio finally cried in, thus winning him his first leading-man Oscar. Tom Hardy over-acts, as is tradition. But this is still excellent. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is beautiful. I think it would’ve been improved with twenty minutes of the more art-house dream-like elements shaved off though. I was very impressed by Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter throughout. Their characters felt very real and fleshed out. 83%

Birdman (2014). Rewatch. After the Revenant I watched another film by Alejandro G. Iñárritu: Birdman. I remember being utterly wowed by this when I saw it in the cinema. It felt so lively and original. But with each subsequent rewatch my love for it has diminished. It’s so visually engaging on first viewing that you don’t notice the slightly thin plot. And there’s something pompous and over rehearsed about the film. It’s still great, but not the masterpiece I thought it was first time around. 79%

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020). I love an Aaron Sorkin script. They’re usually full of wit and each line says something (if that makes sense). This is his first time directing and he does an admirable job. Courtroom dramas, believe it or not, are apparently extremely hard to shoot. And overall this is very good. There’s a few minor criticisms. Such as a slightly schmalzy score, the strange use of a modern song for one big scene when it was calling out for a 60s/70s banger, some of the characters coming dangerously close to caricatures and a mildly rushed ending that doesn’t fully land. But I’m nitpicking. This is one of the films of the year. It’s on Netflix, watch it. Oh also, Sacha Baron Cohen has been nominated for a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Golden Globe for his performance in this. I’m surprised. He was okay, but his accent was rough and he was amateurish at times. The film has a huge, fantastic cast and all the performances are stellar. Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance (always insanely good), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and especially Yahya Abdul-Mateen II all put in better performances than Sacha Baron Cohen. I would have preferred one of them getting a nomination nod instead. 77%

Zombieland (2009). Rewatch, background. Another film I was wowed in the cinema by. This is endlessly watchable and fun. 74%

The Spy Who Fell to Earth (2019). I adore these spy documentaries. And this one is edited masterfully, with lots of zip and you it never lose track of what is going on. 74%

The Power of Netflix

The landing page of Netflix is one of the most powerful influencers of common culture on earth.

If a television or film is prominently displayed on that remarkable digital billboard it will quickly and swiftly enter the cultural zeitgeist.

It can literally drag years old and forgotten content and push it onto the world stage.

I noticed this recently in the UK with “The Fall”, a mildly popular BBC TV show that aired between 2013 and 2016.

Netflix purchased the rights, advertised it prominently on its landing page, and it quickly became extremely popular. It was trending on Twitter and people were talking about it in the same way “Game of Thrones” was talked about the day after a new episode aired.

And I spotted a similar occurrence yesterday. The 2004 film “Mean Girls” had just arrived on Netflix and it was main thing presented to me – and I’m sure many other people – when I logged in. Today? It is number one on Netflix UK.

If I was the director, scriptwriter or producer of a new movie that was being shopped around I would gladly take less money to be on Netflix than more money to be on say Amazon Prime Video. Simply because the chances of my work being seen, enjoyed and entering the public imagination is far higher on Netflix than anywhere else.

Watched – Week 4, 2021

Still from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

Film

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). Rewatch. I tend to watch this every year. So when it snowed recently in England I thought it was time once again, as this film is very snowy and Swedish. My last two viewings I’ve connected with it slightly less the usual for some reason. And I wish the two main characters teamed up slightly earlier. Still it’s fantastic and my film of the week. 88%

A Star Is Born (2018). Rewatch. There’s tremendous music and Lady Gaga’s acting is actually okay. A remarkable first film from Bradley Cooper. I think it’s hard to dislike this. Everyone in my family enjoyed it. It’s just a smidgen too long. 85%

Three Identical Strangers (2018). You’ll read the synopsis and you think you know the story. You don’t. A fascinating documentary. 78%

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010). Rewatch, background. This isn’t great, but there’s just enough fun to make it watchable. 53%

Television

Tiger. Rather than two 90 minute episodes I felt this deserved a full series run of five 60 minuters. I would have liked a bit more focus on his golf and a little bit less on his personal life. But on the whole, this is good. 72%

Bob’s Burgers (Season 11). In a world full of pain and suffering Bob’s Burgers is always a welcome tonic. It’s up there with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Parks and Recreation” when it comes to comedy shows that aren’t always funny but that have a sickly sweetness that makes up for all that. Season 11 isn’t its strongest outing, but it’s still good. 69%