Well the first month of 2017 is almost over and I've actually managed to keep my promise and watch the first batch of Cracking the Collection films! I was worried I wouldn't have time as my screener addiction hit overdrive this month, but I've been away with work a lot with lonely evenings to fill. So I got all three January titles watched with 6 days to go.

Below are my thoughts on this month's films:

45 Years

As I get older I've been finding myself drawn to sparse, subtle dramas so this was high on my radar and I'm glad it got picked for the challenge. Driven by two fantastic central performances it's a fascinating look at love, marriage and jealousy. Not a lot happens, but watching this 45 year old marriage slowly and quietly fracture is strangely compelling. It's a beautiful piece of filmmaking with an ending that's refreshingly open to interpretation.

8 Mile

This is a lot better than it had any right to be. I'm a huge L.A. Confidential fan and back in the year 2000 I loved Eminem, so you'd have thought the film would be right up my street. However the synopsis sounded too much like a rap version of Rocky which didn't appeal to me at all and some reviews at the time were mixed so I avoided it when it was released. Finally watching it now, I realise the film does its best to avoid most of the cheesy clichés of underdog 'sports' movies I feared it would follow and instead is a solid social drama. Kim Basinger is miscast as Rabbit's (Eminem) mum and some sequences with her and Rabbit's sister are a bit forced, but Eminem is actually pretty good in the lead role and the scenes with his friends feel fairly genuine. I appreciated how small scale the ending was too. He doesn't hit the big time or anything like that. He just faces some personal demons and finds himself. It was a pleasant surprise and makes me glad that I let others pick the titles for my challenge as I might not have given this a chance otherwise.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

This was picked to watch by no less than 5 people and I'd heard great things about it previously, so expectations were incredibly high. After watching it I found it was exquisitely made with endlessly striking visuals, but a bit lacking in substance. It thrives on mood and atmosphere and is well performed in a quiet understated fashion, but a little too much of the film feels unnecessary and only there to look cool. I did enjoy it though and it feels fresh and incredibly stylish throughout. It just felt a little flimsy when taken as a whole, so I did lose interest a fraction by the final act. Oh and the behind the scenes extras almost ruined the film because the director Ana Lily Amirpour annoys the hell out of me and didn't help dispel my fear that the film is a mere exercise in cool.

Up next in February:

A Scanner Darkly - Nominated by Mikaela Smith, Jason Hemming
Animal Kingdom - Nominated by Katy Vans, Mikaela Smith
Antichrist - Nominated by Lloyd Burgess

About The Author

Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

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