Welcome to week four of this project. To be honest, this week has been a tough one. After the figures of new COVID-19 cases reached record-breaking heights, Melbourne has been put into Stage 4 restrictions. On top of Stage 3 restrictions, we’re now only allowed one person per household out per day, no travel outside a 5km radius of your home, and a curfew has been implemented from 8pm-5am. There’s no going for drives together (only one person per car), or staying out for more than an hour, or even heading to the supermarket with your housemate. We’ve been given one hour of exercise time outside per day. Things are pretty bleak. It’s lonely. And although the lockdown has been extended, this project will only continue for the original six weeks. I need to take as many things off my plate as possible, and unfortunately “eating” trumps “writing a blog post that 5 people read”.
I’ll be honest, this week wasn’t a great one for films. But, here’s what I watched this week for my COVID-19 Lockdown 2.0 Movie Challenge:
- Wednesday 29 July 2020:
Daniel Andrews’ press conference was the only thing seen today.
- Thursday 30 July 2020:
Spotlight, Tom McCarthy (2015) 4/5
When you revisit past Oscar winners, there’s always a concern that they won’t hold up. Thankfully, Spotlight absolutely does. The dialogue is sharp, acting top notch, cinematography incredible – honestly there’s not much to complain about. The ending still feels a little rushed for me, but that’s a minor concern. Actually no, I have another complaint: why was the entirety of Mark Ruffalo’s dialogue ADR? No, like, seriously… why? And what’s with the talking out the side of the mouth thing? Was it supposed to help his abhorrent accent? I mean, I love him, but to be honest, that knocks almost a whole star off on its own. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, definitely do. It’s much better than I’m making it out to be. It’s probably my favourite journalism film, second only to All the President’s Men, but miles above The Post.
- Friday 31 July 2020:
The Jungle Book, Wolfgang Reitherman (1967) 3/5
I’m sure I watched this film at some point in my early childhood, but I honestly can’t remember it. I remember the snake being scary, and the song Bare Necessities, but not much else. This is a strange film, with very little internal logic (Bagheera is like, “Don’t worry, Wolf Dad, I’ll take care of your son. I love him as much as you do”, and then the first time Mowgli vaguely annoys him he’s like, “Peace, I’m outta here”?!), but if you like a hangout film, sure. There are some definite head-scratchers (Beatles vultures especially), and some questionable scenes for very young children (that snake is still terrifying), but I get it holds a special place in people’s hearts. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t really have the nostalgia to back this up. And before you ask, no, I will not be watching the live action version (although I did hear it was the best of the bunch, so maybe at some point).
- Saturday 1 August 2020:
Southpaw, Antoine Fuqua (2015) 3/5
This film has been on my TBW for a long time, so I’m glad I got around to it. One of the main reasons was because it stars my ultimate girl-crush, Rachel McAdams, but I was unfortunately left a little wanting there (let’s just say there’s a reason she’s credited as “AND Rachel McAdams”). But it’s a good movie! It’s solid! The standout is absolutely Jake Gyllenhaal. If you’ve seen Nightcrawler, there’s a definite through-line between that performance and this one. Southpaw entirely hinges on his acting cred, and thankfully, it pays off. I’m not a huge fan of boxing movies (and detest the sport in real life), but this is right up there with Million Dollar Baby for me. Some of the plot points are handled a little clunkily (“Oh that kid? Yeah, he died.”), and it takes a while for the story to get going, but it’s an enjoyable film overall.
- Sunday 2 August 2020:
Street Food: Asia, David Gelb (2019) 3.5/5
I finally finished this series on Netflix this week, which takes you on a tour around Asia and dipping into various Street Food stalls to explore the food and the chefs who make it. The series as a whole is so interesting, although a couple of the episodes towards the middle aren’t as strong as the first few. Each episode also has a very predictable structure: person wants to cook, person is inhibited in some way from achieving that, person reaches the lowest point (usually due to the death of a family member), person perseveres and succeeds. It’s a little on the nose, but it works if you buy into the schtick, which I did, for the most part. Let me just say: I would die for Jay Fai. Highly recommend this if you’re into cooking (or eating).
- Monday 3 August 2020:
The Old Man and the Gun, David Lowery (2018) 4/5
Another re-watch that also held up. Robert Redford is brilliantly cast in this as Forrest Tucker. It’s metatextuality at its finest. But you know the best thing about this film? Say it with me, *it’s a tight 90*. It’s tightly packaged, self-contained, and easy to watch. It’s everything a film should be! I want more of this! Despite its subject matter, this is a fun film. You can’t help but root for Forrest. I mean, look at his cheeky smile! He can have a little money… as a treat. If you love Westerns, Robert Redford, or heist films, I would recommend giving this one a watch. Cinematography is underrated in this one, too.
- Tuesday 4 August 2020:
Snowtown, Justin Kurzel (2011) No rating
CW: Homophobia, sexual assault, animal cruelty, violence.
Sometimes you watch a dud film, and you give it half a star in rating. And sometimes you watch a film that doesn’t even get a rating, because you were only able to watch 20 minutes of it.
Here’s the thing: I love watching true crime films. The Ted Bundy film I watched recently was great. Zodiac is a masterpiece. Buzzfeed: True Crime is one of my favourites. And although I don’t like horror, the thriller genre is something I am definitely on board with. I even watched Ready or Not and Get Out recently, and really enjoyed them.
But this film is an entirely different beast. I (barely) got through the homophobia. I (barely) got through the sexual assault. And incest. And rape. I even got through the kangaroo slaughtering, albeit with my eyes shut. But when there’s a dog shown in the foreground, and a gun placed in the background, and a quick search on doesthedogdie.com confirms your worst fears, you turn off that film just as the actor says, “Shoot the dog.” I couldn’t get through it. I’m interested in the Snowtown Murders, but I think a documentary overview might be all I can handle. The detailed violence and rape were just a little too much for me. Bear in mind I’m super sensitive about this kind of stuff, so if you have a stronger stomach, go right ahead. But this movie just isn’t for me. Hopefully I’m in for some less intensity next week.