#30DayFilmChallenge – Week Six

Cineworld’s campaign on social media is the perfect fit for my blog, so I decided to do a post a week for six weeks, combining brief answers with more comprehensive rambles.

It’s interesting to ask yourself these questions and try to think of anecdotes, because it’s those experiences that truly resonate – and why we love films and the cinematic experience.

That is what I miss the most, and will miss even more the longer that I can’t safely return to my local cinema!

(Read part one, including days one to five, here; read part two, including days six to ten, here; read part three, including days eleven to fifteen, here; read part four, including days sixteen to twenty, here; and read part five, including days twenty-one to twenty-five, here)

IMG_20200611_122612Day 26 – a film that made you feel happy

A nice question to start this final challenge week off! I’d narrow it down to comedies and certain action films to be honest, given that most other genres are liable to be more gloomy or just not my thing. So I’ll go with another old favourite.

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Will Ferrell is absolutely an acquired taste, but I liked him even before I saw this film – another one I can quote endlessly, and which remains a big favourite of mine as well as a lot of my friends. It’s got that surreal, weird improv energy in a flawlessly depicted ’70s setting that means you’re taken out of reality for a bit and enter the bizarre world of alternate universe San Diego.

There’s not much more I can say beyond the fact that watching this film, with all its stupid comedy bits and the exaggerated nonsense of it all (especially some of the more borderline weird line readings) always makes me laugh, which in turn makes me happy. Boring and to the point unlike some of my answers!

An honourable mention here during lockdown has been another Will Ferrell film, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – which was that perfect blend of Ferrell weirdness and Eurovision cheese, with some amazingly catchy songs to boot.

Day 27 – your favourite superhero film

I would have said The Dark Knight for this had I not already used it, but I’m going to go with something more recent from the other side of the comics divide!

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I remember 2008 gave us not only The Dark Knight, but later on Iron Man (or it may have been before) – which got a lot of us who’d been invested in the original Spider-Man films interested for its talk of being the first in a “series” of films based on Marvel comics. The individual films before had been pretty good (Blade is still epic), but this was a major gamble – and I enjoyed Iron Man, as I did Thor and Captain America.

The idea of having separate film characters then team up in their own movie was surprisingly novel in 2012, but the cinematic experience brewed up by Marvel, its cast and director/writer Joss Whedon was astonishing. From Alan Silvestri’s epic score to the bantering, quip filled character interactions, it all just seemed to fall into place perfectly.

This remains my favourite (and is run a close second by Infinity War) mostly because of how great this first team up was. It works so well even now, and yet it was still a gamble. One that has rather spectacularly paid off for Marvel and Disney since, obviously – but this is another film I will always struggle to turn off when I see it on TV.

Day 28 – a film that changed your life

I’ve been saving this up and hinting at it for the past few blogs on this subject – and as I mentioned before, three films in a series mean three options for this challenge!

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It’s mid 2002 – and 14 year old Will is all “Harry Potter’s awesome”, so having turned 14 the previous year, I was stoked for Philosopher’s Stone at the cinema. I’d seen all these trailers for Fellowship of the Ring and thought “whatever, it’s no Harry Potter”. So when our neighbours offered to lend us the DVD of Fellowship in 2002, I sat down to watch it wondering why some of my friends had been keen to see it the previous Xmas.

Wind forward time about two and a half hours, and me sat – no hyperbole – mouth wide open, emotionally destroyed and wondering how I could have made such a poor judgement. My mum and sister, not expecting much either, were both in floods of tears and I was beginning to realise what it’s like when something drops into your consciousness and changes everything.

Seven years later, I handed in my dissertation for marking at university, which focused on the adaptation of Gandalf from book to screen. Between those two points in my life, I read the trilogy multiple times, invested in the normal and extended DVDs (I now own the extended Blurays), watched the series so many times that I could quote scene after scene word for word, and basically became obsessed with all things Middle-earth.

The fact is, while I’ve not read the trilogy for a long while now, and I’ve not watched the films for a good few years, I’ve not gone off them at all. From the day I first saw Fellowship that was it – I was, as kids say now, an LotR stan. I joined forums and message boards, scoured the (dial-up) internet for new trailers and news, and even read The Silmarillion (multiple times).

Pretty much the entire reason we are (maybe, who knows) going to New Zealand this winter is because of these films. It’ll feel like a pilgrimage (I’m so lucky that I happen to be with someone else who enjoys the films as much as me), and I can honestly say that my life was changed by watching this film, no question.

Day 29 – a film that you didn’t want to end

Shit, I already used Return of the King (lolz). This is a weird one, because it’s a perfectly good question to ask, but more often than not a film is perfect because it knows when and how to stop, without going on too long and blowing all of its promise. So I’ll go with a film that I soaked up in the cinema and recently rewatched (therefore more certain in my memory) – and would happily have watched a much longer version of.

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My review says it in more detail, but Knives Out is such an intelligent, funny and entrancing update of the murder mystery that it could have been a mini series on TV and I’d have watched every episode in a binge. A sequel is planned and I cannot wait to see it – Rian Johnson’s surefire direction and intricately interwoven script match perfectly with an astonishing cast on top form, to the point at which even when you know who did it, and you rewatch it, you still enjoy it.

Honestly, if Johnson got paid to make a series of these films with Daniel Craig’s unforgettable private investigator, or even a big budget HBO show, I’d be all over it. It creates such a rich and detailed microworld onscreen that even a series about the idiot rich family (much like the unparalleled Succession) would be awesome.

Day 30 – a film with a beautiful ending

Here we are at the end, with a great question. And as I’ve put something positive above, I’ll end with something nasty because beautiful doesn’t always have to mean positive – you can appreciate something being beautifully shocking or hilarious, so I’m gonna go with that.

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To say any more about the ending to this film would be to ruin it for anyone who’s not seen it, but GODDAMN this is a daring way to end a film, and one I always come back to when I think of a film that perfectly ties off everything that’s taken place in such a way that you can’t imagine it ending any other way.

All I will say is that Stephen King didn’t have the same ending for his original, and actually told director and writer Frank Darabont (yes, him of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption) that his ending was better. And that I saw this at university with some friends who had no idea what was coming, and whose reactions I shall treasure forever – one laughing and telling the inanimate, innocent computer monitor to “fuck right off” and the other not particularly chuffed at what they’d seen.

Those reactions are why this, despite not being beautiful in the conventional sense, is a beautifully brave, ballsy and satisfyingly mad way to end a film.

Thanks for sticking with this and reading these posts, hopefully you’ve learned some interesting things about my film experiences and tastes, or you’ve been motivated to try and answer these questions yourself.

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