I watched a total of 23 films during February, even though I made absolutely no use of that extra leap year day at the end. Nine of these were new releases watched at home or seen in the cinema. The standout of the new releases was Spotlight, which thoroughly impressed me with its exemplary acting and sure (though hardly attention-seeking) direction. I also really enjoyed Rams, which I imagine won’t be a huge draw for a lot of people on account of the fact it’s an Icelandic film about sheep farmers (their loss), and Youth, Paolo Sorrentino’s second English-language film. The latter is the best thing that Michael Caine has done in years, even though the film itself has a couple of mis-steps. I should also mention The Assassin, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s much-touted venture into wuxia, though I doubt my opinion on that will properly settle down until I’ve taken on a second viewing. It’s certainly the best-looking film I’ve seen this year, though I can’t quite bring myself to love it in the same way that Proper Critics do. And though there have been disappointments in February – such as Freeheld and The Last Diamond – they have been offset by a pair of impressive genre-movies-that-aren’t-quite-genre-movies, The Survivalist and Bone Tomahawk. Oh, and there’s the little matter of Deadpool, an hour-and-a-half of dick jokes, swearing, occasionally-gruesome violence and knowing wink-winks to the camera. It’s alright while you’re watching it, I suppose.
For my Blind Spot this month I watched Klute, which is excellent, and possibly my favourite part of Pakula’s paranoia trilogy (yes, I like it even more than All The President’s Men). I revisted the American New Wave a couple of other times, watching Haskell Wexler’s fascinating Medium Cool and re-watching Chinatown, which is one of those movies that completely deserves all the praise it receives. The only other older film I watched was war film The Eagle Has Landed, which is nowhere near as good as I remember it being, though it is quite amusing to see Donald Sutherland, Michael Caine and Robert Duvall stink up the screen with mis-placed accents (while all three were arguably at the peak of their powers, too).
I’m still catching up on a few 2015 releases that I missed last year, so caught Manglehorn, Ricki and the Flash, Microbe & Gasoline, Catch Me Daddy and the circus documentary The Show Of Shows, which includes old footage of a child boxing a kangaroo, if that’s your thing (hint: it shouldn’t be). If I had to recommend one of those it’d be the hard-hitting Catch Me Daddy, though the others all have their moments. It’s a bleak, gritty British drama about an attempted honour killing, which made for a cheery adieu to winter, as you can no doubt imagine. (Fuck winter, incidentally.)
Astute readers may notice that’s only 18 films. The rest are bits and pieces from the past decade: briefly…Japanese undertaker comedy-drama Departures, Baz Luhrmann’s candy-coloured version of The Great Gatsby, Ryan Coogler’s impressive and moving debut Fruitvale Station, the enjoyable knockabout dramedy Chinese Puzzle and last, but by no means least, David Fincher’s sprawling procedural Zodiac.
If I had to pick one new release as the film of the month it would be Spotlight, but Rams is also well worth seeing in my humble opinion. As always there’s a bunch of films that I missed that I wanted to see, including A War and A Bigger Splash, but I’ll try and catch them on DVD at some point. There are a few other February releases that I hope to catch up with in the coming days, if time allows, including Triple 9, Chronic (even though it sounds incredibly depressing), Mavis! and King Jack.