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As the site slowly wakes up from its winter holiday slumber, Slarek reflects on a 10-day binge of movie watching that has seen him set himself a target of finding time to watch at least one film a day, and has a brief round-up of immediately upcoming reviews.
8 January 2017

It occurred to me today that the site currently feels as if it's waking from a holiday-induced period of deep hibernation. In some ways, it is. News stories tend to dry up as the holiday approaches as distributors and PR companies alike prepare to break up for Christmas, and it usually takes a little while before the emails start trickling in again. Our reviews, meanwhile, tend to take second place to social and family activities and excessive drinking (or is that just me?), an easy indulgence if you don't have to go into work the next morning, or the morning after that, or... rinse and repeat for 10 days straight. More free time should, in theory, also mean more time to write reviews, but this year I siezed on the opportunity to catch up with a few of films I missed because of my hospital visit-induced confinement. In the process, I kicked off what some will doubtless try to convince me is a new year resolution. It isn't. But it is an almost unconscious attempt to bring a modicum of discipline to what has for so long been one more chaotic element of my disorganised life. Allow me to elaborate.

One of the tiresome things that comes with adulthood is that you have far less free time than you did as a don't-give-a-crap teen. Things get in the way, things like jobs and family and all the crap that comes with having somewhere of your own to live and maintain. Thus, while I was at the cinema almost every day when I was at film school (can you imagine the cost of doing that today?), even with variety of ways that we can access and watch movies now, actually finding a couple of hours to sit down by yourself (or with a like-minded soul, if you're so inclined) and watch a movie without interruption can prove demanding once adulthood takes hold. But over the winter break I started something that I'm keen to continue, finding a slot each day to watch at least one movie, preferably one that I've not seen before. This sometimes means putting other pursuits on hold, ignoring household jobs, or staying up just a bit later than I usually would, but the sheer volume of good movies that I absorbed over the 10 days I had off over the Christmas and New Year period was so damned rewarding that I want to keep it going. And with the exception of a single, impossible day, I've met my target every day and frequently passed it. Yesterday I enjoyed a three-movie evening, and while today I've been finishing of my pick of the year (for posting tomorrow), as soon as I've posted this I'll be sitting down for Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

What's been neat about setting myself a one film per is that it pushes me to watch something regardless of what I may have to hand, which sometimes means trawling through Netflix in search of something I've not seen, which has pushed me nicely towards titles that I somehow missed, despite their popularitity and positive reviews. This past week that has included Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, which I was probably slow to come to due to having watched my fill of the 'Inspirational Teacher' sub-genre. And I enjoyed the film, thanks in no small part to the always superb J.K. Simmons and some genuinely gobsmacking drumming (and, as my fellow scribe and film professional Camus was keen to point out, editing). I also caught up with Bone Tomahawk, a western-horror crossover with a wonderful script and a rare and welcome focus on character and interplay (how many such films would take a few minutes out for two characters to have a conversation about the perceived difficulty of reading books in the bath?).

Of course, this daily diet will also include review discs of upcoming titles, which this week saw me perched in front of the Blu-ray from Eureka's upcoming dual format release of Rintaro's anime take on Fritz Lang's Metropolis. This is not the animated remake that I somehow expected but an adaptation of Tezuka Osamu's manga, which while inspired by Lang's movie, went its own very different way with character and story. It's an entrancing film with a sprinkling of unexpectedly dark twists, and one whose English dub does not disgrace the Japanese original (both are included). A full review will be posted in the next few days.

Camus, meanwhile, has been overloaded to the point where the site has had to take a bit of a back seat, but is well into a combined review of Indicator's Sidney Poitier double of To Sir, With Love and Guess Who's Coming to Dinnner, both of which are absolutely loaded with special features. As for Gort's stumbled coverage of Arrow's Herschell Gordon Lewis set, which both he and we expected would be completed by now, well that's also been the victim of colourful circumstance, but he intends to finish the task regardless of the considerable delay. Other reviews on the immediate horizon include Miike Takashi's Black Society Trilogy for Arrow, Na Hong-jin's The Wailing for Kaleidoscope, and Kurosawa Kiyoshi's superb Creepy for Eureka. More will doubtless follow when the site, the distributors and the PR companies fully awake from their late December slumber.