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Film: March 2011’s Films

Here we have the last of the March round-up posts. This month we kicked off with the books I read, followed by the games I played and the TV I watched. Now it’s time for the films I viewed.

As ever, watching so few films does mean that making the title image is pretty darn simple.

Image sources: Ponyo, Shaun, Ben, Partridge and V.

Five films then, two more than February’s meagre haul but two less than January’s, which was already a little on the low side. Oh well, here’s what they were:

March 6th - Ponyo (DVD)

I don’t watch a great deal of Japanese animation but I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli’s work and have all their films on DVD (in fact I’m disappointed that more didn’t make their way into last year’s 30 Movies in 30 Days project, with Grave of the Fireflies being the only one that scored an entry). Shamefully Ponyo was a birthday gift last year but I only just got around to watching it in March.

Like most of Ghibli’s output it casually throws around ideas that just didn’t come up in the majority of Disney’s work pre-Pixar, when they were very comfortably set in their themes of princesses, heroes, villains and time-filling songs. I’d put Ghibli up there with Pixar in terms of creativity and the writing and characters, and they do great things with mostly hand-drawn, 2D animation. Ponyo has some great visual moments, tells a touching story of friendship and was really rather good.

March 9th - Shaun of the Dead

In my comments about Hot Fuzz back in January I said that I didn’t find Shaun of the Dead to be as good a film as I’d expected it to be from the praise it had been receiving, but those expectations could have played a part in my response. Having watched it again in March, removed from any hype, I would definitely say it’s a better film than I initially gave it credit for. It’s a lot of fun.

March 16th - The Running Man

The Running Man is one of the Schwarzenegger films that fully embraces the cheesy post-kill puns that the actor became famous for (and which have been heavily parodied since), but I don’t think it does it as unashamedly or effectively as Commando (which seemed hellbent on just making the ultimate over-the-top Arnie film). It’s not bad but it’s a bit silly.

March 22nd - Equilibrium

I forget what it was that got me in the mood to watch this, possibly this spoilery video (though YouTube seems a bit unclear about when I watched it it, wrongly thinking it was six months ago). It’s a very stylish film, which helps me overlook the fairly nonsensical combat discipline practised by the Clerics that allows them to avoid bullets and achieve the maximum amount of killing in the shortest possible time. Though it’s mostly just an action movie (and a good one) it does have some reasonably interesting ideas about emotion, and includes a quote that I really like:

[begins to read from Yeats]

Partridge: “But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” I assume you dream, Preston.

I remembered Equilibrium being the film where John Hurt played the oppressive figurehead of the Big Brother-style authoritarian regime, which I liked because Hurt played the victim of such a regime in the 1984 version of Nineteen Eighty-Four (and of course the original book is where the term ‘Big Brother’ stems from). I was mistaken though as in this film it’s John Pertwee, I was mixing up Equilibrium with V For Vendetta.

March 23rd - V For Vendetta

Which is why I then watched V For Vendetta the next day, and I really do like the film. V is an excellent character, Natalie Portman’s great and it tells a good story. Like Equilibrium it’s big on style (an inevitability from a film produced by the Wachowskis) but I’d say it’s a better film, likely thanks in part to its source material. It really is very good.

*****

March Verdict

Quality – Once again I’d say they were all good films, with The Running Man by far the weakest.

Quantity – The number of films I watched was still lower than I’d like. I really should be able to manage a couple each week, not five in a month.

Timeliness – None of this month’s films were released in the last few years, with Ponyo being the most recent as a 2008 release. All the rest were at least released within the last decade, except for 1987’s The Running Man.

NewnessPonyo was the only completely new film this month, but I remembered almost nothing about The Running Man so that practically counts. Shaun of the Dead was a second viewing and the other two films have been watched multiple times.

Goals – April goals should be fairly easy, seeing as in this verdict I didn’t do well on most categories. I should be watching more films, watching some newer releases, and ideally only watching things I’ve not seen before. I own plenty of unwatched DVDs (though not so many recent releases) so that should be easy. I really would like to go to the cinema and see something, maybe Source Code.

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