Clint Eastwood

My Film Year in Review and my Film-Related Goals of 2020

In 2019 I watched a lot of films but not too many that I got overwhelmed with meeting a self-enforced target. In total I watched 242 different films, 251 films including rewatches. I saw 76 films at the cinema as well. I have a full list of all the films I watched here and I also put together a list of my Top Ten Favourite Films of 2019 last week for your reading pleasure – I’d recommend all of my favourites to anyone, no matter their taste in films.

With the film-related goals I set myself it was a bit of a mixed bag. One of the reasons I wanted to not put pressure on myself to watch films every day and hit a ridiculously high target, was so I could watch the many TV shows I’ve missed or got half way though and not feel guilty about it. In the end I didn’t watch many TV shows at all. In fact, I watched one and a half. I watched all of Stranger Things season three which I loved and binge-watched over a weekend. You can see what I thought on Twitter as I did some spoiler-free live-tweeting. I also started to rewatch Shadowhunters as the last series came out so thought it would be nice to rewatch it from the beginning and by the time I did that the new episodes would be out. It didn’t quite work like that because I’m someone who just stops watching TV shows even when I’m enjoying them. I got near to the end of series 2 so I only really have a season left to watch and half of it will be new to me. Maybe in 2020 I will finish my rewatch and live tweeting of one of my favourite shows.

I did complete the 52 Films by Women challenge once again. I watched 56 films directed by women (all of which happened to be first time watches) and I watched 71 films that were written by women. However, I didn’t watch very many of my unwatched DVD’s and Blu-rays, and in fact I bought more and now have over 80 unwatched films.

Now it’s time for the fun stats stuff. I have a Pro membership on Letterboxd which allows you to see all your film-viewing stats and I love it.

My most watched actors of 2019 were:

I rewatched and reviewed the Fast & Furious franchise (which I adore) so that’s why almost half the actors here are from at least one of those films. I made the effort to watch a lot of Brie Larson and Keira Knightley films so that’s why they’ve gotten a spot. I rewatched the sequel Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings, the Transformer trilogy and the John Wick trilogy so that explains people like Keanu Reeves, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving a couple of the other actors, but some people like Jim Broadbent and Joan Cusack were a surprise.

My most watched directors also show off the fact I watched a lot of Fast and Furious (Justin Lin), Star Wars (J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson) and Transformers films (Michael Bay). I like how Antoine Fuqua makes an appearance once again (he’s one of my favourite directors) and I tend to rewatch his films fairly often. It’s a shame there’s only one woman on this list. I watched four of Mira Nair’s films that I hadn’t seen before but while I watched over 50 films directed by women, I think she was the only female director I watched multiple films from.

So what are my film-related goals of 2020? I’m going to continue to watch what I want, when I want, and not feel like I have to watch a film every day when I’d rather be reading or discover a new TV show (that I’ll only watch half of before stopping even when I’m enjoying it). I definitely want to finish watching Shadowhunters and if I manage to get through a couple of other TV shows that I’ve been meaning to watch for ages in 2020 that’d be great. I think The Alienist returns this year and as that’s like the one show besides Stranger Things that I’ve watched in its entirety recently, I’m definitely looking forward to that.

I want to complete the 52 Films by Women challenge for both directors and screenwriters again. I have been doing (and completing) this challenge since 2016 so it’d be cool to make it a fifth year in a row.

I will once again say I want to get my unwatched DVD’s and Blu-rays down. As I said, I have over 80 of them to get through but I do have a plan to tackle this! It is going to be related to the A-Z in April Challenge but more will be revealed in the Spring. I not only have a Clint Eastwood boxset to get through, but an Alfred Hitchcock one as well now so maybe I’ll make some headway with those this year.

Do you have any film-related goals for 2020? How easy/difficult do you find it is to make time to sit down and watch a film?

REVIEW: In the Line of Fire (1993)

Veteran Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is haunted by the fact he couldn’t save Kennedy in Dallas, and now thirty years later a man who calls himself “Booth” (John Malkovich) threatens the life of the current President and Frank is determined not to fail a President again.

In the Line of Fire is a film where it wastes no time setting up the characters and getting straight into the main plot. You learn as much about the characters as they share with each other, and when Booth starts to make his presence known, it takes the time to tease the character with extreme closeups on his eyes or mouth.

Eastwood’s Frank is a veteran of the Service. He’s a good agent but not the man he was, something he and everyone else knows, but he’s not willing to accept that yet. Eastwood’s performance is full of charm, but he also presents an uncompromising figure especially when others start to believe he’s not fit for the Presidents protection detail and should leave the case alone.

While Eastwood is certainly the lead of In the Line of Fire, it’s Malkovich who steals every scene he’s in. Booth is an incredibly cunning man and knows exactly what buttons to press to make Frank go off his game. The phone conversations between Booth and Frank are the epitome of cat and mouse as they each try to learn things from one another, though Booth always seems to be one step ahead. Malkovich give a performance that’s cool and calculating one moment, and then full of fury the next. As Frank digs deeper into who Booth is or was, he starts to become an almost tragic character.

In the Line of Fire is a smart thriller. While there are a few chase sequences and scuffles, it’s how Frank and the other Secret Service agents work through the limited information they have to catch a potential killer that’s so gripping. The score, the editing, and the cinematography all work together to rack up the tension as Booth gets closer to his goal of killing the President, and Frank gets pushed closer to the edge.

In the Line of Fire is a tense thriller with gripping performances. It’s only shortcoming is the romance between Frank and fellow Secret Service agent Lilly Raines (Rene Russo) which feels awkward, rushed and just unnecessary. 4/5.

REVIEW: Sully (2016)

sully-movie-posterThe story of Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), an American pilot who, along with his crew, became a hero after being forced to land a plane on the Hudson River in order to save the 155 souls on board.

The way this story is told is different to what one might expect. The film makes you wait, for what can feel like an excruciating long time, to see the full sequence of the plane coming down onto the Hudson. There’s snippets of flashbacks throughout the film, complimenting what’s happening in the present as Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) try and make sense of what happened, but you have to wait to the final act to see it all come together.

The sequence of the plane coming down is dynamic and thrilling and the special effects are top notch. The sequence, along with the whole film really, brings you that pleasure of seeing people being competent at their jobs and keeping their heads in a crisis. The aftermath of the water landing shows the best people have to offer with everyone pulling together and shows how regular tour boats came to the rescue.

Sully is an incredible true story and seeing the events in the air and learning about the hearings Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles had to attend to prove they made the right decision is great. Director Clint Eastwood allows the true events to speak for themselves and manages to avoid most clichés often seen in autobiographical films. Sully is a polished film with a great performances and Tom Hanks is on fine form as always. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Gauntlet (1977)

the gauntlet elenasquareeyesHard but average cop Ben Shockley (Clint Eastwood) is assigned to escort Gus Mally (Sondra Locke) a witness in custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, but a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make the trip and everyone seems as if they’re out to get them.

The Gauntlet is super fun. It’s action-packed and violent and it never really lets up. From the moment Shockley and Mally meet the sparks fly. They are polar opposites and they definitely clash early on in their relationship especially because Shockley doesn’t really believe that there’s someone out to get them.

It’s nice seeing Eastwood play a cop that isn’t really in control and isn’t respected by his colleagues. It’s unusual seeing him be a bit of a fish out of water but (naturally) he rises to the challenge and turns out he can be a bit of a badass in a pinch.

The violence in The Gauntlet really is quite violent. There’s helicopters with machine guns, cars get blown up and a more realistic and frightening moment is when Mally is almost raped. It’s shocking and unapologetic and it’s a bit jarring coming after a string of action set pieces.

After all the action and Shockley and Mally often beating the bad guys, the ending is a bit of a let-down. It just seems that those responsible for putting Shockley and Mally through hell don’t really get a decent enough comeuppance.

Fun and action-packed The Gauntlet is sometimes silly but it’s always a good time. 4/5.

REVIEW: Dirty Harry (1971)

dirty harry ElenaSquareEyesWhen a mad man calling himself “the Scorpio Killer” (Andrew Robinson) menaces the city of San Francisco, tough police Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is assigned to track down and stop the psychopath.

It’s easy to see why Dirty Harry is a classic and one of Eastwood’s definitive roles. Eastwood is great as Callahan, he’s a tough cop who won’t quit and won’t put up with bureaucratic nonsense. That being said, while he is a loose cannon, he does respect the law and the way it works – most of the time.

Dirty Harry is not only a sharp action film but it is a great political police drama, looking at the right and wrongs of policing and the hoops people have to jump through. It also has some great lines (Eastwood delivers sarcastic quips wonderfully) and the music is a great accompaniment as it’s often tense and unsettling, especially whenever the Scorpio Killer is about to make an appearance.

The Scorpio Killer really is quite creepy and sometimes terrifying. Robinson does a great job as his baby-faced appearance goes against the methodical killer he really is. Also he is just as smart as Callahan and the San Francisco Police Department who doesn’t go back on his threats so he’s a worthy opponent for Callahan.

There’s some great sequences in Dirty Harry, one which stands out is when the Scorpio Killer leads Callahan on a chase around the city – Callahan has to get to different phone booths in a certain amount of time or a girl will die. It’s a tense sequence and the Scorpio Killer never lets up. The finale when the Scorpio Killer has taken a school bus hostage is also thrilling, especially when Callahan takes matters into his own hands and jumps on top of the moving bus to stop him.

Dirty Harry is fast-paced, action-packed and also has a smart wit, it’s easy to see why it’s a classic and much-loved film. 5/5.

REVIEW: Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

kellys-heroes-ElenaSquareEyesWhen Kelly (Clint Eastwood) discovers a secret stash of Nazi gold bars, he leads a group of U.S. soldiers secretly across enemy lines to get their hands on the treasure.

Kelly’s Heroes is so much fun! All the characters are the archetypes you see in war films but that makes it no less enjoyable. Kelly is the rogue who discovers the treasure, puts the plan together and slowly recruits all the men he’d need to pull it off. Big Joe (Telly Savalas) is the Master Sergeant and the platoon’s leader who really didn’t particularly want to be dragged into Kelly’s caper. Crapgame (Don Rickles) is the greedy supply sergeant who is always looking to make money somewhere. Oddball (Donald Sutherland) is, like his name suggests, rather odd and the leader of three Sherman tanks. He’s one of those characters where you don’t quite know if he’s mad or is just playing at it (much like Murdock in The A-Team). Naturally the higher-ups are often bumbling idiots and it’s the guys who are on the front line who are the brave heroes.  (more…)