8 Films I Saw This September + 100th Film! (Film List 2021)

Hello All,

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to write much for this month, but I’ve been busy with more career focused work, which has been really fulfilling. I have tried to watch as many films as possible though. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written.

The rules are I can only write about films I haven’t seen before, I want to engage with films which have been on my watchlist for a while now. I have really enjoyed the films I’ve seen in this series so far. Hopefully during this busy period I can keep watching films.

Nomadland – Date Viewed: 04/09/2021

Director: Chloé Zhao

Studio: Highwayman Films, Hear/Say Productions, Cor Cordium Productions

Release Date: 2020

Nomadland is a character study of the people left behind by the collapse of industry, a slow-burning affair, but a moving film. What Chloé Zhao’s achieves as a storyteller and filmmaker is nothing short of astounding when you look at how involved she is in the production. We follow Fern, who after losing her job and husband starts to live on the road and starts to connect with local Nomad communities, which she becomes a part of herself as she learns to sustain herself in a new context. The film has a loose, poetic quality, which doesn’t have a typical narrative structure but forms more of a fever dream, with ties of loss and love, which is at the heart of the film. Frances McDormand is incredible – which comes as no surprise, but Chloe Zhao achieves something with this film. A very worthwhile watch.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

Summer of Soul – Date Viewed: 07/09/2021 (100th Film)

Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

Studio: Onyx Collective, Concordia Studio, Play/Action Pictures, LarryBilly Productions, Mass Distraction Media, RadicalMedia, Vulcan Productions

Release Date: 2021

This is the 100th new film I have seen this year and what a film to signify that landmark. Questlove achieves something special here with the documentary format. The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival was all but forgotten, lost for 50 years, unseen until now – it shows how important it is to archive these events, as some of the people in the documentary who attended believed the festival never happened. Contrasted with significant historical events and technological advancements, which puts much of the context around the marginalisation of black communities, which is used for humorous but also to an emotional extent – many of the feelings of the communities from this point in time are felt now, which makes the documentary feel more contemporary, but above all of this the documentary is about the music and the connection that the event provided for the 300,000 people who attended, from Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder the music is full of life and verve. This is a special documentary, which has to be seen and experienced as I would do a disservice to the film trying to encapsulate everything in this short piece.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

Jennifer’s Body – Date Viewed: 09/09/2021

Director: Karyn Kusama

Studio: Fox Atomic, Dune Entertainment

Release Date: 2009

Megan Fox is incredible and delivers her best performance to date – as is Amanda Seyfried, who is equally impeccable. In this Diablo Cody written horror-comedy, a schoolgirl is possessed by a demon and must feed upon her male classmates, while her best friend tries to stop her. This feminist slasher feels like a time capsule, where emo and rock sensibilities were present as it guided a pop culture movement within schools. A film that encapsulates the mood shifts with being a teen from lust to rage and plays it for horror effect through the possession of Jennifer. Most of the scares are more related to being a female and the fear of others and how it’s flipped onto the male counterparts – it is strongly influenced by films like Carrie, which show as the film uses the high school turmoil to crank up the emotions and violence. A forgotten and underrated film that is worth your time, as it has achieved cult-like status through its use of humour and violence.

Currently on Disney+ (At the time of writing)

Collateral – Date Viewed: 10/09/2021

Director: Michael Mann

Studio: Parkes/MacDonald Productions, Edge City

Release Date: 2004

Michael Mann’s slick action thriller sees Tom Cruise give one of his most searing performances as hitman Vincent, who kidnaps Jamie Foxx’s taxi driver to complete a series of hits. Mann’s realist style fits well with the action as the film moves from one set piece to the next with a sense of brutality and finality that sets up the direction of the narrative – this all comes to a head in an exhilarating a violent crescendo. What the film achieves so well is a sense of tension between Cruise and Foxx, which sees the latter’s character evolves as we delve deeper into the façade and discover the motivations behind his way of life. The film moves at a breakneck speed – while also allowing us to see the decisions made by characters and the subsequent interactions, which spiral off into unpredictable situations. This is a fast-paced thriller that is worth the watch.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

I Am Not A Witch – Date Viewed: 11/09/2021

Director: Rungano Nyoni

Studio: Kinology, Soda Pictures, Clandestine Films, unafilm, Film4, Quiddity Films

Release Date: 2017

Rungano Nyoni’s debut feature holds tragedy and comedy close to its chest as it explores the life of a young girl proclaimed to be a witch. Beautifully realised in all aspects, from the direction, performance and cinematography – the film feels full of life, which seems ironic as we see people robbed of theirs. The film handles themes of exploitation, celebrity and the fear of women with a satirical eye while allowing humour to be present, but not to undercut the implications of the events unfolding. The film is heartbreaking too. We start to see the world develop through the eyes of the young girl, as she is shunned by society and capitalised upon by opportunists. This is truly an incredible film, which has some of the most striking imagery that I have seen for some time.

Currently on All4 (At the time of writing)

I Care A Lot – Date Viewed: 20/09/2021

Director: J Blakeson

Studio: STXfilms, Black Bear Pictures, Crimple Beck

Release Date: 2020

Rosamund Pike is chilling as Marla Grayson, a con-woman who makes her living by becoming a court-appointed guardian for vulnerable elderly people. Through her cons, she encounters a notorious gangster who has links to her victims. The film balances comedy and horror with a deft touch. The sequences where the vulnerable elderly are taken from their home and put into an assisted living facility are pure horror and generated such a depth of anger from within myself as Grayson gleefully sells off their assets and moves on to the next person. A compelling and dark watch.

Currently on BBCiPlayer (At the time of writing)

My Best Friend’s Wedding – Date Viewed: 21/09/2021

Director: P.J. Hogan

Studio: TriStar Pictures, Zucker Brothers Productions

Release Date: 1997

Coming from the golden age of romcoms, Julia Roberts stars as a woman desperate to break up the marriage of her life-long best friend and his fiancé. I don’t think the film has aged very well – there are some moments where I cringed and baulked at the language and actions of some of the male characters. I won’t lie and say that I enjoyed or liked this film, but it was okay. There are some funny moments – a lot of them coming from Rupert Everett. Films age as new attitudes are introduced within society and old ones are discarded, some of which belong in the latter category. If you’re a fan of the genre and like the sensibilities that it offers then I would recommend the film as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I’m not a huge fan of the film.

Currently on Netflix (At the time of writing)

The Green Knight – Date Viewed: 27/09/2021

Director: David Lowery

Studio: Ley Line Entertainment, Bron Creative, Wild Atlantic Pictures, Sailor Bear

Release Date: 2021

David Lowery’s epic medieval fantasy drama sees Dev Patel play Gawain – the nephew of King Arthur, Gawain must set on a long journey to find the Green Knight, a year after accepting his challenge. The film explores the themes of self-actualisation, legacy and honour, which culminates within Gawain, who is played brilliantly by Patel. The way the film moves also feels like a visual poem with some magnificent visual moments that do take your breath away. The film is incredibly daring too, both in its narrative form but its creative choices, which lead to some compelling moments. The film is beautiful, compelling and memorable – it still has me thinking about certain moments. I highly recommend this film.

Currently on Amazon Prime/Cinema (At the time of writing)

I have been watching these using a mix of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ and even rental. Typically all of these would cost a lot, but I have been fortunate to have access to these platforms for free – at least for now. Once that is over, I’ll be prioritising which platforms to still stick with moving forward. I hope you check these films out.

I’m away for the most of October, so I may not be able to watch much, but I will try to keep writing as much as possible.

Stay safe, be present, enjoy things that you like.

Adam

Stills courtesy of FILMGRAB / Kiss Them Goodbye / Bluscreens.net / anothermag.com / Elevation Pictures / Movieclips Classic Trailers / movienco.co.uk / screenmusings.com / Screen Goblin /commonsensemedia.org / NME / Joe’s Movie Blog / cultandexploitation.blogspot.com / fancaps.net / ingloriousbaguettes.com / starwarsscreencaps.com / boardchairman / animationscreencaps / forum.pixarpost.com / shattereddteacup / MyCenterMovie / disney.fandom.com / talkbass.com / indyweek.com / theguardian.com / echoartists

Published by Adam Shafi

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

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