6 Films I Saw This January (Film List 2021)

Hello All,

I hope everyone is well and staying safe.

I, like many, come up with many new years resolutions, some I keep to and others I don’t. This may seem very strange to say for someone that has actively studied the craft of filmmaking, but I wanted to watch more films…

I find that I rarely watch films on my own, I can watch TV, YouTube or listen to podcasts on filmmaking all the livelong day, but sitting down and watching films is something that always seems to be a problem for me at this moment. The irony is that watching films is something which will inform my filmmaking, which can be more important than submerging yourself in theory… who would have guessed.

So the rules are that I need to pick films which I haven’t seen before, regardless of the era of cinema. So… the films. I started a bit late – the 24th of January to be exact. Already such a promising start, but I’ll start with the first film.

My Neighbor Totoro – Date Viewed: 24/01/2021 (Yes I know it’s a late start)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki     

Studio: Studio Ghibli     

Release Date: 1998

Hayao Miyazaki’s landmark animation is a mainstay in cinematic pop culture, this endearing film about childhood and imagination will live long in cinema and rightly so. Beautiful to boot and expansive in its philosophy this is a film that I can whole recommend and an incredible way to start the year. Studio Ghibli are the masters of animation and one look at what films they’ve made will attest to that. 

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

A Beautiful Mind – Date Viewed: 25/01/2021

Director: Ron Howard  

Studio: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Imagine Entertainment   

Release Date: 2001

Ron Howard’s 2001 effort is a true story about brilliant mathematician John Nash who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. It chronicles his struggle with the affliction and how his greatest assets seemingly betrays him to the horror of those who are close. This is not a film about that in some ways, but more a film of not only triumph but how people are affected by these circumstances. The crescendo is uplifting and inspirational there are an array of incredible performances all around and well worth watching. 

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Mary Queen of Scots – Date Viewed: 26/01/2021

Director: Josie Rourke    

Studio: StudioCanal, Working Title Films, Perfect World Pictures

Release Date: 2018

Josie Rourke’s film about two queens, Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I is an interesting case. The film details their political struggles regarding the legitimacy of one another’s claim to the throne. Full of strong performances, but unfortunately is bogged down with its length, a visually striking film which sometimes doesn’t quite achieve what it sets out to do. Let me know what you think of it though. 

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

Snowpiercer – Date Viewed: 29/01/2021

Director: Bong Joon-ho     

Studio: Moho Film, Opus Pictures, Union Investment Partners, Stillking Films

Release Date: 2013

Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 dystopian thriller straddles the line of humour and horror expertly. A film about class war, while barrelling at hundred of miles per hour sets the tone for an explosive, yet mad ride into how society has crumbled and lost all resonance with itself. Incredibly violent, but full of heart and verve. Incredible performance all around and an incredible philosophical film when you look past the blood and Tilda Swinton’s brilliant northern accent. 

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

Free Fire – Date Viewed: 30/01/2021

Director: Ben Wheatley     

Studio: Film4 Productions, BFI, Rook Films, Protagonist Pictures

Release Date: 2017

Ben Wheatley’s 2017 action comedy is a riotous film anchored by Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy and Bree Larson’s fantastic comedic performances, as well as some razor-sharp dialogue and brilliant interactions from other characters. Visual the film is murky, dark and dirty, which suits the tone to a tee. Set in a Boston warehouse after an arms deal gone wrong, this punchy film is almost over in a flash but will leave a long-lasting impression. I would definitely check this out. 

Currently on Amazon Prime (At the time of writing)

I know it was a late start, but I really enjoyed sitting down and watching these films. I can already tell you that February has started so much better, I feel like I’ve built up some momentum and I hope I can keep it going.

Hope you check these films out, I’ve watched them using a mix of Netflix and Amazon Prime, watching these films again helps get money back into the film industry, so it feels good to feel like I’m helping while enjoying these films. My Neighbor Totoro and Snowpiercer and are the films I would highly recommend, both on Netflix and Amazon Prime and available to watch at the time of writing.

Let me know what you’d like me to talk about more in my next piece, I’d love to hear what you have to say. In any case, stay safe, be present, enjoy things that you like,


Stills courtesy of FILMGRAB / Kiss Them Goodbye / Bluscreens.net

Published by Adam Shafi

Here's my work, ranging from films to essays. Hope you enjoy it!

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