Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review of the 133 films I watched in 2016 [with BBFC analysis]

I’m slowly going through my review of 2016 releases, one blog post per week (backlog: un et deux). As I still have quite a lot of the 2016 awards-nominated films to see and thus don't want to complete my 'review of the year' without giving them a chance first, I thought I’d buy some time by looking at all the films I watched in 2016, not just the ones that were released that year.

I watched 133 films in total last year, in a mixture of mediums, from at the cinema (my Cineworld Unlimited and Odeon Unlimited cards have both recouped their charges), at the cinema with ISENSE, whatever that is, on DVD, on the TV, on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and a few other mediums that I shan’t detail.

The arithmetic mean for the 133 films I gave out of ten was 6.54, which unfortunately shows some erroneous decision-making on my part, given I generally only watch a film if I expect it to be 7/10 in quality.

However, the prevalence of films with my favourite actresses in, Saoirse Ronan and Rooney Mara, on Netflix, including a couple of real stinkers (Lost River, Dream Boy, Dare, Trash), would have no doubt bought this average down. Plus, while catching up with the 2015 Oscar-contention films, there were a handful which I didn’t think were that great, but watched for the sake of completeness (eg The Revenant and The Big Short), so they, too, would have skewed the average.

I recently went on an R course, so here be three graphs that indulge my statistical fascination with films (and the BBFC in particular).



Given that 'I only watch films if I expect it to be 7/10 or better' rule, it's no surprise that 7 is my mode mark.




U’s high median mark and low range can be attributed to the fact that it’s generally quite rare to award U-ratings these days, with the majority of animated movies getting the slightly more robust PG, to allow for more in the way of excitement for the viewer. Thus, I tended to shy away from U rated films that appeared frivolous, and only watch ones that I thought had to say. As such, the lowest rating I awarded a U-rated film last year was 7/10, for Houseboat and Finding Dory.

I applied the same general philosophy to PG-rated films, but despite the same median score as U-rated films, the range was far more variable, encompassing dross like Topaz and How to Train Your Dragon to masterpieces like Double Indemnity.

On the other end of the spectrum, 18-rated films proved to be very variable in quality, from the excellent The Wolf of Wall Street and the very good The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (a commendable remake of the Swedish original) to Quentin Tarantino’s indulgent and overlong The Hateful Eight and Spike Lee’s Oldboy (a dreadful remake of the Korean original.)

And finally, honouring the best and worst of all the films I saw last year

Top 10 Films Watched in 2016 

01. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) PG
02. It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) U
03. Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987) 12
04. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013) 18
05. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) 15
06. A United Kingdom (Amma Asante, 2016) 12
07. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012) 12
08. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007) 15
09. La mala educación (Pedro Almodóvar, 2004) 15
10. I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016) 15

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Best Supporting Actor: TIE - Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar! and Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street and Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood (piece on Paul's performance)
Best Supporting Actress: TIE - Saoirse Ronan, Atonement and Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Best Director: Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity

10 Worst Films Watched in 2016 

01. Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973) 15
02. High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, 2016) 15
03. Lost River (Ryan Gosling, 2014) 15
04. Dare (Adam Salky, 2009) 15
05. Dream Boy (James Bolton, 2008) 15
06. The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, 2015) 15
07. We Are Your Friends (Max Joseph, 2015) 15
08. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Kenneth Branagh, 2014) 12
09. The Purge: Anarchy (James DeMonaco, 2014) 15
10. The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance, 2016) 12

Worst Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl 
Worst Actress: Emily Ratajkowski, We Are Your Friends
Worst Supporting Actor: TIE - Jesse Eisenberg, Batman v Superman and Sharlto Copley, Oldboy Worst Supporting Actress: Cara Delevingne, Suicide Squa
Worst Director: TIE - Zack Snyder, Batman v Superman and Ryan Gosling, Lost River


Given the prevalence of 15-rated films in both these lists, it's no surprise that it corresponds to the most irregular rating in terms of my enjoyment of a movie!

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If you enjoyed the nerding out in this piece, there's plenty more where that came from!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Restaurant review: AZZURRO (Waterloo)


My friend Kieran and I had lunch here on Christmas Eve (here's a picture of us) when we'd both had very little for breakfast and were starving, once again proving the rule that you shouldn't decide where to eat when you're hungry.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bar review: FIFTY FIVE BAR (Camden Town)

A busy cocktail bar that has some very alcoholic drinks available at Happy Hour, The Fifty Five bar markets itself as a more upmarket alternative to the dingy pubs prevalent in Camden.


To make room for more punters, there was outdoor seating. Drinking in the fresh air was fun, and it’s good to offer the option to those who have an aversion to the obnoxiously loud levels of music played indoors. Here's a picture of us sat outside.

I do wish, however, that the managers would have been so kind as to install outdoor heaters, as The Woolpack (for all its flaws) had. We visited on a chilly January night, and British weather being what it is, we definitely felt the cold.

The quality of the cocktails varied; my friend loved hers, whereas I was left underwhelmed with the Espresso Martini, preferring the one I had in Camden's Grand Union.

Further suggestions that I would propose to make this place even better for customers is if they extended Happy Hour by an hour, and made the drinks ever-so-slightly cheaper. Bottles of Prosecco were being sold for £23, which I feel was a bit of a liberty.

Still, it’s hardly like Fifty Five Bar needs to pay any heed to my advice. Business was booming there, even with the overpriced drinks. It’s just a shame that the managers didn’t use some of the funds to take better care of their customers, and attempt to keep them warm.

Grade: D

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By the way, as you may have gauged from the grades I divvy out, I don't often award As. So when I do, as I did to Bird, it means I really loved it. Thus, my friends and I went there again two weekends ago, and rather than order wings, I had a burger. My best friend Anna (who this blog is named after) ordered a waffle burger. Here they are:





They were insane; I still proudly stand by my A-rating to Bird.

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I go to a far few restaurants and bars in London with my friends. Here be the compendium of all my reviews of them.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

OOTD: Listening to epic Etta James covers in a jazz bar.


Dress: Quiz
Glasses: Red or Dead

Bar review: OLIVER'S JAZZ BAR (Greenwich)


A labyrinth-style underground bar that features live jazz acts in Greenwich, this was my first time in seven months listening to live music, and the performers were so adept at their music that it definitely didn't disappoint. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Oscars and the Razzies for the BBFC, 2016

The Razzie shortlist was leaked and I see Cara Delevingne didn’t make the Worst Supporting actress shortlist, once again illustrating that the Razzies don’t deliver on their promise of honouring the worst of the year (which Blahra undoubtedly was), but instead, jumping on the bandwagon of critically panned films and knocking A-listers down a peg or two.

Anyway, I digress. I’m a massive BBFC nerd (you don’t say), and they release an Annual Report every June or so, and I love poring over it, because they discuss high-profile and contentious decisions at each age category. I’m just as fascinated as to why something’s a PG rather than a U as I am why something’s a 15 rather than an 18, and the equal exposure they give to all the ratings, as well as revealing which films got the most complaints each year, makes for fascinating reading.

That report is compiled by the BBFC, and I thought I’d do my own personal Razzies and Oscars of the BBFC for films that came out last year, just to add another dimension/point of view to BBFC reviews!



Before I discuss some decisions I strongly agreed (the Oscars) and disagreed (the Razzies), I will blather about some random thoughts which don’t fit into either category. My current eighth favourite film of 2016, High or High Water, was rated 15 for ‘strong language, violence, sex’. I have no qualms with the age rating, nor the first two classification issues. The ‘strong sex’ in question, however, gave me false hope; I was hoping it might feature dishy Chris Pine. Instead, it was his on-screen brother, played by Ben Foster, being ridden. Not the BBFC’s fault, I know, and says more about my dirty mind than their choice of lexicon. But I felt quite let down. 

At least the sex scene in Hell or High Water could be classified as strong, however brief it was. In 2016 I caught up with a couple of films that featured in awards season for the previous year, two of which were Wild Tales and 45 Years. Argentinian film Wild Tales was an anthology of six short films, wonderfully inventive and blackly comic. 45 Years, a film about a wife who discovers her husband’s secret in the week building up to their 45 year anniversary, was less gripping, but anchored by an amazing performance by Charlotte Rampling. Two completely disparate films, connected by one thing: their BBFC insight promised me strong sex. What strong sex?? I’ve seen raunchier 12s!

In terms of short insight which did deliver on what it said on the tin, the starkest case has to be, to this date, still the only 18-rated 2016 release that I’ve seen (although this will surely change with the release of foreign films Elle and The Handmaiden), The Neon Demon. Rated 18 for ‘strong bloody images, sexual assault, necrophilia’, no one could argue it didn’t have each and every one of those three articles. The last one, in particular, must have been the main reason the film obtained its adult certificate. Jena Malone’s acting in the scene in question was brilliant and I thoroughly commend her for her dedication for making that 18-rated scene so credible, however aberrant the act.

Now, onto the prizegivings!

The BBFC Oscars