Friday, 17 April 2015

What I've Been Watching In: April

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore
I had a feeling that I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when it came to watching Mockingjay Part 1 and in a way, I was completely correct. Just as things start to get really interesting the end credits roll and you're left there thinking 'how many months do I need to wait now?' Thankfully I watched this on DVD, as it was released at the end of last month, so I don't need to wait as long as those who saw it first at the cinema but this just cemented in my mind the fact that I really hate it when movies break that final book into two parts. I understand that financially it more than makes sense for them to do it that way as they instantly double their money (or more) but it just left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth about Mockingjay, which wasn't exactly how I wanted to remember it. Now that's not to say that I didn't enjoy Part 1 but the lack of anything truly exciting or memorable was a little frustrating to say the least. Plus Mockingjay Part 1 really felt like it should have been called 'Where's Peeta?' and since I'm not his biggest fan (I really don't get why Katniss is completely obsessed with him all of a sudden) that wasn't enough to keep me enthralled throughout. Mockingjay Part 1 was good but just not as great as the previous two instalments.
I also think that I've ruined The Hunger Games franchise for myself completely by watching The 100. If you haven't already caught The 100 and you are a fan of The Hunger Games then I really urge you to watch it. I reviewed the first season a couple of months back (link here) but it's went from strength to strength and is even better than my original review implies.
But saying all that, I am excited to see how The Hunger Games concludes. I guess I'll just need to bide my time until Part 2 is released on DVD.

The Departed (2006)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg
Now this is a movie that I have been meaning to see for years now and it just so happened to be on Film 4 this month, so of course I had to make sure and watch it. I'm a big Scorsese fan, with Goodfellas being one of my favourite movies of all time so I had exceptionally high hopes for The Departed and it certainly did not disappoint.
An undercover cop (DiCaprio) infiltrates the criminal underworld, led by Jack Nicholson, as a career criminal (Damon) infiltrates the police department so that he can tip off Nicholson and his gang. But when both the police and the gang learn that they each have a mole in their operations, both DiCaprio and Damon are forced to figure out each other's identities to stop the other one from discovering them and ultimately getting them killed.
This movie had me hooked from the very beginning and when you take into consideration the fact that this movie is considerably over the two hour mark, that makes it all the more impressive. I felt like I'd been sucked into another world, mostly because of the strong Boston accents throughout but that's what I love about great movies such as this, the fact that it can take you somewhere you never knew you even wanted to go. There was one scene in particular, which seriously shocked and stunned me as I definitely wasn't expecting something like what happens to occur but the way in which the story unravels and the chase progresses really heightens the enjoyment of a movie like this. I only have one question though. How does Leo not have an Oscar yet?! How?! Now that really is criminal (if you pardon the pun).
If you haven't seen this already then I would definitely recommend checking it out when you can.

Burning Love (2012-)
Starring: Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, June Diane Raphael and so many other amazing actors/comedians
I was having a little scroll through Netflix, as you do (for what can sometimes feel like hours), when Burning Love popped up on my screen. I vaguely remembered hearing something about it a good number of years ago and as soon as I saw the list of actors and comedians names attached to this I pressed play almost instantaneously.
Burning Love parodies those pretty embarrassing American dating shows, most notably The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad and despite never having seen a single episode of any of those shows the Burning Love series gets it exactly spot on. Burning Love, which was originally a web series, comprises of three brilliant seasons, each of which are between two to three hours long. The first season, which parodies The Bachelor, follows fireman Mark Orlando in his quest to find love and instead of the traditional rose giving ceremony that you might have seen on these dating shows, he asks the women if they will 'accept his hose' (since he's a fireman of course! Hehe). If that's your kind of humour then I have a feeling that you'll love Burning Love. The second season follows one of the girls from Mark's season, Julie Gristlewhite and I was so jealous of the men fighting for her affection. Amongst the potential suitors were Adam Brody (!!!), Adam Scott (aka. Ben from Parks & Recreation), Martin Starr (aka. Bill from Freaks & Geeks), Michael Cera, Joe Lo Truglio (aka. Charles Boyle from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Nick Kroll (aka. The Douche from Parks & Rec). Now how amazing would it be to have those men competing for your love?! Then the third season sees a host of ex-contestants from both seasons competing for $900, which they constantly refer to as life changing.
With that many incredibly funny people involved to make up a cast of great characters and a great sense of humour about dating shows, Burning Love is well worth your time.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams
You know that you're running out of horror movies to watch on Netflix when you start delving into the many remakes, reboots and sequels that they have to offer on there and that's what happened with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Having never seen the original Halloween movie or it's myriad of sequels and reboots, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I wasn't sure if this movie starred Jason or Michael or even Freddy but after a couple of scenes it was made clear, which was certainly helpful for a new viewer like myself. I liked that it did kind of give you a recap of the original movie through some of the discussions that the main characters were having. It was also nice to see that Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the protagonist in the original movie, reprised her role 20 years after the original. It would probably have been a very different movie if she hadn't done that, despite the fact that I couldn't stop seeing her character from Freaky Friday every time she came on screen. It's safe to say I was a pretty big fan of the Freaky Friday remake (Lindsay Lohan before she went off the rails + Chad Michael Murray when he was my one and only crush = a great movie to teenage me). But back to Halloween H20, first of all, this is Josh Hartnett's very first movie! Oh yeah! Even before he was Trip in The Virgin Suicides. A young Michelle Williams also stars in this as does a pre-teen Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The story itself was good enough for one of these kinds of movies and it did prompt me to buy the original so I would expect it to appear in my May What I've Been Watching post.

Food Fighters (2014-)
Starring: Adam Richman
Adam Richman, of Man v. Food fame, is back on Food Network UK with one of his two brand new shows (his other show Man Finds Food is basically a rip off of Man V. Food except instead of him participating in any eating contests he looks for hidden menu items and restaurants. He does have his new figure to maintain don't you know!) This is essentially a show where a home chef is pitted against five professional chefs to make five different dishes for the chance to win up to $100,000. Can you tell that I spend a lot of my free time watching Food Network shows?
These five dishes are the home cook's favourite dishes and they get to pick what chef they compete against when it comes to their dishes of choice. After both chefs have cooked the dish is taken to a 'dinner party' for a blind taste test by five 'ordinary diners.' The first round is worth $5,000, the second; $10,000, the third; $15,000, the fourth; $20,000 and in the fifth and final round the contestants have the chance to double whatever they have won up until that point. And what really surprised me was the fact that if the home chef loses to the professional chef in one of the rounds and therefore doesn't win any money, they still continue on to the next round. Like could you imagine that happening on a British show?
The series only consists of eight episodes which was a little upsetting for me to hear as I think I've already watched about half of them now but that means I have four more to catch up on. 

My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith
Clearly I am at the point of exhausting the list of somewhat passable horror movies on Netflix, as I have already demonstrated above. Again, I hadn't heard much about this movie apart from the fact that it was a remake but that was hardly a surprise since most horror movies released between 2000 and 2010 were. I vaguely recognised the main actors in this (aka. that guy from The Vampire Diaries (I personally don't watch it), that actress who's friends with Taylor Swift and that guy who was in Final Destination).
It wasn't until this movie started that it became blatantly obvious that this movie was made with the intention of being shown in 3D. After a swift search on Google my assumptions were confirmed. Some of the scenes were ridiculously gory just for the sake of being so. I'm talking people's faces being cut in two, innards scattered everywhere and gallons of fake blood. In another scene one of the characters, who we basically don't even get to know at all, is running around completely naked. Whenever those kinds of scenes pop up in horror movies it's almost a tell tale sign that it's not exactly one of the best horror movies that you could be watching and they've essentially just done that to pander to a certain audience. Give me a bit of character development and story progression any day over 'here's a blonde with big boobs who obviously sleeps around so don't bother caring about her, about to be massacred.'
The villain in this is an axe wielding psychopath and there is a twist or two which I did appreciate as it did keep me guessing right until the very last scene and I did like the way in which they kept the ending open, although I doubt that they will be making a sequel to this at any point in the future. Let's just say it's not the worst movie, horror or otherwise, that I've seen on Netflix so that's something but it's certainly not the best by quite a long shot.

What have you been watching this month? Do you have any recommendations? Have you seen any of these? If so, what did you think of them?


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