Viewing recap for May

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
I should start by saying that superhero movies are not my favorite, so that’s a factor for this review. In the latest X-Men, there’s suspense and impressive visual effects, but the similarities to other movies was distracting:
Watchmen and the course of history, Terminator when he asks for the guy's clothes, slow-motion bullet time from The Matrix, the robots kind of look like Iron Man, a scene that resembles “these aren't the droids you're looking for” from Star Wars,  And I haven’t even mentioned all the other X-Men movies.
Besides the basic story, the subtext I noticed is how medication can prevent us from unlocking our true selves, as is the case with Professor X, who is able to walk, but his mutant powers are reduced and this affects him psychologically. This theme of a cure is not exactly new, and was seen in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
Perhaps the filmmakers figure the characters have already been fleshed out in previous installments. There are so many characters and it moves so swiftly, that it's tough to become emotionally attached to any of them.
The best part was the slow motion “Time In A Bottle” scene with Quicksilver. Jim Croce is having a resurgence, Tarantino also used his music in Django Unchained.
Jennifer Lawrence is cute in that hat, I must say.
Spoiler alert: 
 I do like the message of Days of Future Past, that those who are different shouldn’t hide and be ashamed of who they are
As with Prometheus (2012), the new X-Men points towards future X-Men films to resolve the ending, which may frustrate some viewers. A sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, is scheduled for release on May 27, 2016.
Favorite quote (spoilers): “You built these weapons to destroy us. Why? Because you are afraid of our gifts, because we are different. Humanity has always feared that which is different. (…) And to my mutant brothers and sisters out there, I say this: No more hiding. No more suffering. You have lived in the shadows in shame and fear for too long. Come out. Join me. Fight together in a brotherhood of our kind. A new tomorrow, that starts today.” (Quote found on tumblr)
Rating 6.5/10

The Trip to Italy (2014)
Watched the 3 hour TV-version on dvd, which is six half hour episodes.
You almost forget they are on a restaurant tour, because the food evaluation takes a backseat to the pop culture conversations, comedy, and symptoms of midlife crisis. Many of the impersonations we have already heard in the first series, but there are new ones too, my favorites are of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises(hell anyone could do that by covering their mouth!), Marlon Brando, and Robert de Niro.
However the more I watch Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon insult each another, the more I wonder why they are even friends at all. Perhaps there’s pleasure in constantly mocking and degrading the other. There were many instances where I got the feeling they disliked one another, but they do share some laughs and good times as well. 
According to Coogan in recent video they get on better when the cameras are off, and the friction is fictionalized, to create tension. You probably have to be there to know if they get along. 
They really just play two grumpy middle-aged men, who are sad their younger days are gone, and who happen to be good at doing impersonations of celebrities.
Episode 5 and episode 6 drag a bit, although the scenery is impressive.  The duo definitely overdid it with “guess the bill”, and the Al Pacino + Roger Moore impersonations, which become tiresome. 
So to sum up, season 2 has its fun moments, especially the first 4 episodes. I would recommend watching the dvds on your computer, as the many references to movies and culture I found myself googling while watching. In fact the references this time around are almost as interesting as the comedy.
There are typical sequel problems, trying to recreate the magic of the original, but not quite as fresh anymore.
If you enjoyed The Trip (2010), the sequel offers more of the same. I certainly enjoyed The Trip To Italy, an entertaining follow-up. The shorter movie edit is probably even better, which was the case in 2010.
Rating 7/10

A Story of Children and Film (2013)
Out on dvd. In the 100 minutes or so it lasts, narrator Mark Cousins does a good job of picking out great scenes and finding visual and thematic connections between both familiar (Kes, 1969; E.T., 1982) and virtually unknown gems of children’s cinema.
As with 2011's The Story of Film: An Odyssey(which I reviewed here),  A Story of Children and Film (2013) you could likewise rewatch, because there's so much to digest.
I had seen a few of them, ET, Moonrise Kingdom, 400 Blows, Big Business, Gasman , Great Expectations, The Red Ballon, The Kid, I Wish, The Mirror, The Night of the Hunter.
Want to see: Los Olvidados by Luis Bunuel, Zero for Conduct, Kes, Forbidden Games, Yaaba, Kauwboy, An Angel at My Table, Beed-o baad‎.
I was surprised Mark Cousins skipped over the films of Dardenne’s and Majid Majidi. And childhood films such as: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Stand By Me, The Goonies, Lord of the Flies, and Salaam Bombay.
Also the whole horror genre is missing, for example: Let The Right One In, Village of the Damned, The Exorcist, The Shining, and The Omen. I guess you can’t have it all.
Rating 8/10

Time of the Wolf (2003)
Apocalyptic drama directed by Michael Haneke. Suspense is maintained by not revealing why there has been a meltdown of law and order.
It’s dramatic and well-acted, but we’ve seen the scenarios before, when violence, injustice, and sexual exploitation occurs. The scene with the boy and the fire is probably among Haneke’s best endings. Lesser known, and not the director’s best. Worth a look, if you are a fan of his work.
Michael Haneke quote: “I wanted to do a film for our superficial society. Those who are doing well who feel comfortable, who watch the end of the world on TV because it’s at a distance, and to give them a taste of what it would be like if it happened to them”
Rating 7/10

Monkey Business (1931)
Marx Brothers comedy. Opening credits are pretty inventive, with the names on the barrel, while it rolls round. They are basically stowaways on a ship.
Famous for the sequence when the brothers all pass themselves off as singer Maurice Chevalier, which probably isn't as funny now, because not everyone knows Chevalier these days. For me, the puppet show scene is the highlight, Harpo sure knows how to pull a funny face!
Groucho Marx has the best dialogue, yet it is implausible he gets away with all that rudeness. Horse Feathers (1932) and Duck Soup (1933) make more sense that they tolerate Groucho’s antics, because in those films he’s in a position of authority. Still, the dialogue and situations are funny.
Favorite quotes: Why not send for the old swine, let his beard come later? I sent for his beard. You did? It’s coming by “hair mail”.
“Sorry I have to go, the captain's waiting to chase me round deck”
Rating 8/10

Horse Feathers (1932)
Marx Brothers comedy. Parody of college life. Harpo is my favorite, even though he doesn’t say a word. The coins he collects, holding up the traffic, eating a banana. It’s so simple, and just fun to watch.
The jokes are a bit one-note, though. You can’t burn a candle at two ends; and then we see it. Cut the cards; and then the pack of cards are chopped by axe. While amusing, the jokes become slightly repetitive.
Favorite quote: Why don’t you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out?”
Rating 6/10

Duck Soup (1933)
Rating 8/10
Full review here

Seen anything great this month you want to recommend? Have you watched any of the above films? Agree or disagree? As always, comments are welcome


  1. I've just added X-men to my monthly recap since I just saw it last night. I know Hollywood movies sometimes lack of originality, especially superheroes. They try hard to be something big and remembered, but lots fail. I was entertained enough, but I've seen better. Nice to see you love the life lesson quote.

    1. @Andina: I’ll have to check your thoughts on new X-Men, thanks for letting me know. I did quite enjoy the film, it wasn't that bad, even though I complained about some stuff here :) And yes, love that quote, and love the message of the film!

  2. I wasn't aware there was a new version of The Trip. I watched the 2010 film not too long ago and enjoyed it for the most part. I'm not sure I could handle three hours of them though. Their impressions started to get old after a while.

    1. Eric @The Warning Sign: I enjoyed the impersonations a bit more in the first Trip, though the sequel has its moments. It’s not for everyone, listening to those two guys chatting away. For some it becomes tiresome, especially if you don't know all the UK celebs they are impersonating.
      I would assume the weaker moments from the 3 hour tv-version are edited out of the 2014 108min movie. I probably shouldn’t have watched all 3 hours in the space of 2 days, I’ve read it’s better to watch 30min weekly.

  3. Wasn't aware there was a second season of The Trip, so will be watching that as I enjoyed the first one.

    So does Cousins still use the same way of talking for this doc?

    1. @Nostra: The Trip To Italy was quite enjoyable, I gave it a lower rating than The Trip (2010), because it’s not as surprising anymore. I felt the tv-version had some weaker moments, which hopefully have been cut out in the shorter movie.
      Yes, Mark Cousins continues to speak in the same way in this doc, I don’t think he’s able to change. I think he wants his voice to be memorable :)

  4. 'Time of the Wolf' looks quite intriguing. I will have to find out more about that film. I too didn't really care for the new X-Men film. I know that everyone else loved it, but it was just "ok" for me. It was a little much in some ways. It's like we get it--you're superheroes.

    Admittedly, my favorite scenes were all about Quicksilver. Evan Peters was fantastic.

    1. @msmariah: Time of The Wolf is not my favorite post-apocalyptic film, if the premise sounds interesting to you, it’s worth a look. Of the 10 Michael Haneke films I’ve seen, it’s in 10th spot, though:
      I liked some things about the new X-Men, also had a few problems. Agree Quicksilver scene was a highlight!

  5. I enjoyed The Trip to Italy but it wasn't as good as the first series in my opinion. Still, I love the impressions but wasn't impressed by the retread of old ground with Coogan's PA and the one-night-stand love interest.

    1. @Dan: The duo have excellent chemistry and the semi-improv is impressive, but yeah, not as groundbreaking as the first season. If they’re going to do a 3rd season, I’d like to see them wait 5-10 years, so that, similar to Before trilogy, they are older and perhaps have a new outlook on life.

  6. Great recap! I skipped this month as I was away, too lazy to do it now, ahah.

    I enjoyed X-Men DOFP more than you, in fact it beats my expectations. Oh I really want to see The Trip! I saw Philomena on the plane which was excellent, interesting to see Coogan in a serious role, but it's all about Judi Dench. Definitely an Oscar-worthy performance.

    1. @Ruth: No shame in skipping your recap if you were on holiday! Perhaps X-Men DOFP will grow on me over time, at the minute I prefer a few of the other X-Men films in terms of characterization, there were just too many cameos and such in the new movie I thought. Philomena I too enjoyed, Dench was indeed Oscar worthy.

  7. The new X-Men was awesome! I love that they basically hit the reset button on the first few films, and I'm interested to see where Apocalypse takes the characters. I hope they can bring all of those cast members back.

    I can't wait to see The Trip to Italy! While the first one isn't remarkable, it's hilarious, and I laugh every time I watch it.

    1. @Josh: Happy new X-Men movie worked for you! I liked parts of the film, I’ll probably still watch the sequel, though

      The Trip is a fun little movie, I enjoy rewatching the impersonations.


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