Sunday, 6 July 2014

Intermission: The half-year in review.

Well, hello there.

This is a quick state-of-the-blog-address as we've just skipped over the halfway point of the year. Regular readers may have noticed a slightly erratic posting schedule over the last month or so. This is due, in part, to the Summer Movie Season playing havoc with the programming at my local cinema, and due to me going through a spell of what I can only describe as writer's block (even though I'm hesitant to even use the term as I'm not actually A Writer™). Anyhow, that seems to have passed (thankfully) with the assistance of a couple of astoundingly shite films to get my teeth into (here and here).

That said, with footballs and tennises filling the TV schedules (and apparently people riding bikes - that's a sport now), the UK's film distributors have resorted to not knowing what the hell to put out when. This isn't a new thing, of course, and it's not like they're not showing anything in the meanwhile. Just nothing I really fancy seeing again.
Here's the running schedule for Transformers: Age Of Extinction at my local cinema:

the running schedule for Transformers 4 at my local

Seven times a day, overlapping to ensure screenings are regular enough to be convenient for the public, and five 3D showings vs two 2D ones. Which is fine when you're trying to get bums on seats, but that coverage of robot-action doesn't leave room for much else in a five-screen cinema. And obviously, I refuse point-blank to see Mrs Br*wn's B*ys. Obviously. What I'm trying to say is, unless there's enough variation on offer to make it worth me scooting down to London for another #FilmDay, it's likely to stay fairly quiet round here for the time being.

* * * * * * *

Looking back at the year so far, three of the films which have stood out as being exceptionally awesome have been 12 Years A Slave, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Edge Of Tomorrow...

Click to read the 12 Years A Slave Review Click to read the Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review Click to read the Edge Of Tomorrow Review

12 Years I had great hopes for, which it easily surpassed and I think it's already cemented its position as An Important Film™ to watch. If you haven't seen it yet (perhaps because of the subsequent hype), rest assured it's every bit as powerful and brilliant as the reviews have lauded it to be. April's Spider-Man sequel was more of a surprise, if only because I think of the web-slinger as the weakest of Marvel's A-game canon. But Marc Webb's follow-up has more depth and lasting-impact than the Avengers-timeline's recent entries, and if Sony can keep this up, it bodes well for the future of their slice of the Marvel pie. And a complete surprise was the Tom Cruise actioner, Edge of Tomorrow. Deftly written and performed with a knowing grin, it works both as a dumb alien-invasion flick as well as slightly more experimental logic-gate. It's not quite at the level of Looper or Inception, but it has far more out-and-out fun with its time-travelling premise. I'd expected to be entertained by the film, but it's nice to see that there are still some movies which you'll need your brain for.

Honourable mentions of the year-so-far go to The Lego Movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Inside Llewyn Davis (by which I mean that I didn't award them full marks under my seemingly arbitrary rating system, but they've all left me thinking about them some months later).

Click to read the Lego Movie Review Click to read the The Grand Budapest Hotel Review Click to read the Inside Llewyn Davis Review

If you'd told me at the end of December that six months later I'd be encouraging my readers to watch a Coen Brothers film and a Wes Anderson one, I'd have disbelieved you to say the least. While I have no great distaste for their previous works, I've always found them to be massively self-indulgent, at best. Of course, exactly the same can be said of Inside Llewyn Davis and Grand Budapest Hotel, but something's either clicked inside my brain whereby I now 'get' it, or these will be the sole films by the directors which I ever enjoy; the exceptions which disprove the rule. In Davis's case, it's that rare beast where the soundtrack doesn't work at all in isolation, and only becomes 'good' when you have the context of the film behind it. Likewise, once you know the soundtrack, the film becomes even better, and the two feed off each other, each becoming more intricately entwined with subsequent viewing/listenings. Yes, I know that sounds like a twattish thing to say, thank you. My enjoyment of Budapest is only slightly less twattish, as in addition to the sharp and underplayed comedy, a geek like me appreciates the switching between colour pallets and aspect ratios for the different time-periods in the film. The second time I watch the film, I think I grinned all the way through. Anyway, there's very little that's pretentious about The Lego Movie, and I grinned throughout that as well (although I still stand by my belief that Will Ferrell isn't a great choice for the film's final reel).

* * * * * * *

And so the year drawn inexorably on, and the next big blip on my cinematic radar is Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy. Part of their Avengers timeline, it promises to put some fun back into the continuity (which is sorely needed, even I have to admit). The film lands in UK cinemas on July 31st, but I'm hoping with all of my damned celluloid that Cineworld's Secret Screening on the 15th could well be Star-Lord's introduction to a cinematic audience. There's every chance that it won't be, of course, but I do know that the screening will be in 3D (as will GotG), and will be "a major new film well ahead of its UK release".

The cynical part of me thinks that it could just be Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, but that opens nationwide a mere two days after the Secret Screening. And when I tell you that the last one of these screenings brought us The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, when Cineworld were due to run advanced screenings of the film only a week later anyway, it suddenly doesn't seen that crazy an idea. There's also the possibility that it could be Sin City 2 which is apparently in 3D. Time will tell, but I assure you that I'll be at the first screening of Guardians, whenever it is.

Finally, astute readers will have noticed*(1 that I've quietly, and prematurely, retired the #365DoW project. The idea was that I'd watch, read or play something Star Wars centered every day for a year, and write briefly about it here. It's not the first time I've tried this, and it's not the first time I haven't been able to make it work. Cruising my way through Dark Horse's Clone Wars comics was straightforward enough, but once I hit the animated TV series, that's where the wheels fell off. There are many excuses reasons for this; I wanted to use the exercise to finally work my way through the episodes in hi-def, but I'm not always in front of my BluRay/TV every day (or at least not at a time when I can set the speakers to Bastard Loud™); watching the episodes is one thing, but having something useful or constructive to say about each one, without being repetitive, is far more challenging that I'd thought; sometimes, the Star Wars I'm in the mood for isn't what's next on the agenda, and I at least wanted to stick to the OCD nature of the programme, so ended up using writing/screenshotting time for other things. The fact is, it's the kind of project which would be ideal for someone with time on their hands. This isn't me. I already don't have enough time for all the media I want to consume without setting a rigourous schedule for more. And so, I am still determined to watch the entire Clone Wars run before the end of the year, but I won't be writing about it (not in the #365DoW format, anyway). And as it's been about a month since my last SW post and catching up will be a nightmare, it seems easier to let the thing go. If you disagree, by all means let me know in the comments.

Come and click 'Like'. Validate my existence. And that's that. The film reviews will continue, albeit at a pace dictated largely by the schedule planners at Cineworld, and when I'm not rambling here, I can be found rambling over at the World Of Blackout Facebook page or Twitter page.

Come over and let me know what your favourite (or let's face it, most disliked) films have been so far this year, and what you're looking forward to. Come and tell me why I didn't get on with Godzilla or Under The Skin. Come and tell me why the 300 sequel was better than I had it down for. Just don't come over defending I, Frankenstein; I'm not sure I could handle that...

Yen, Blackout Towers, July 2014.

*1 Although if they did notice, they didn't say anything. Well done, I guess?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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