‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 225

#184 / 365 – ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999) – 107 mins
IMDb Challenge #110 / 250 – Ranked #130 – Via DVD Collection

Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is a child psychologist who receives an award on the same night that he is visited by a very unhappy ex-patient. After this encounter, Crowe takes on the task of curing a young boy, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) with the same ills as the ex-patient. Crowe spends a lot of time with the Cole much to the dismay of his wife. Cole’s mom is at her wit’s end with what to do about her son’s increasing problems. Crowe is the Cole’s only hope.

With The Sixth Sense being writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s third feature, for me it was one of his greater supernatural offerings to that what he outputted afterwards in ‘Unbreakable’ ‘Signs’, and most certainly ‘The Happening’. The film finds a delicate balance between the normal and the paranormal. The pace comes off a little slow at times, but not that this matters because the performances from the two leads keep you compelling gripped.

Haley Joel ‘Forrest Gump Jr.’ Osment for me is simply superb for his tender age, and the role of Cole “I see dead people” in his hands is menacingly intelligent. Likewise, and whilst Bruce Willis can pull off Armageddon and Die Hard roles with faultless ease, its nice to see what a more engaging actor he can be when given more dramatic and serious material to play with.

The Sixth sense is genuinely creepy at times and one where you must have your wits about you as you pay attention to its detail. Recommended viewing if you’re a fan of the supernatural world. And oh that ending….

#185 / 365 – ‘District 9′ (2009) – 112 mins
IMDb Challenge #111 / 250 – Ranked #132 – Via DVD Collection

After an extra terrestrial mothership appeared above the earth 20 years earlier, a group of non-human refugees were found, possibly the last survivors of their own world. While the humans argued over what to do, the creatures were isolated – at District 9. Multi-National United (MNU), a private security company and the world’s largest arms manufacturer has been contracted to oversee them. MNU’S real goal is to discover the secret to the activation of the alien’s powerful weaponry that requires their DNA. When an MNU field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins converting his own DNA, he becomes the most hunted – and valuable – man in the world, perhaps the key to unlocking the secrets of the non-human technology. There is only one place for him to hide – District 9.

Wow. That was the first word out of my mouth when I first encountered District 9 on its 2009 release, this intense and inventive sci-fi picture from first time South African director Neil Blomkamp is an astonishing achievement and this newcomer has done something on his debut more than most directors dream of doing in their whole careers. The film recalls to the mind the likes of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, ‘Independence Day’ and David Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly’.

District 9 starts of with a documentary feel which soon dissolves into an action-adventure and it’s pretty effective in this seamless transition. All of the many action sequences are brilliantly choreographed, easy to follow, and generate a great sense of tension and excitement along with the awesome alien weaponry.

This was my 4th time of watching District 9 and it breaks some of it’s genre boundaries to provide one hell of an entertaining movie from start to finish. I found myself wanting to watch it straight away again – it’s a shame I couldn’t as I had to go and watch another sci-fi epic of the same year.

#186 / 365 – ‘Avatar’ (2009) – 162 mins
IMDb Challenge #112 / 250 – Ranked #141 – Via DVD Collection

The story of paraplegic ex Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people

Right. I’ll keep this short and sweet, as the entire population has surely watched this sci-fi epic haven’t they? Then if you haven’t, I’ll just assume you’ve been living on Pandora with the Na’vi for the last couple of years.

Ok let’s get the one big negative out the way – the predictable story. Too which we really can’t give any credit to James Cameron for as it’s essentially been ripped wholesale from the pages of Ferngully and Pocahontas. However, what we can the King of the World give unequivocal credit for and to which I can never heap enough superlatives on is Avatar’s 3D dreamlike visuals and is the only reason why nearly the entire world turned out in their droves. The hugely ambitious project which was 14 years in the planning, results in an extraordinary scaled and bewitching world thanks to it’s jaw-dropping technology, exquisite production design and exotic golden eyed, blue-skinned aliens.

Avatar is an event of a film that can only truly be appreciated on that big screen, and results in a spectacle that allows you to live the fantasy and one that, despite its length, keeps you connected till the very last frame. Simply unmissable. For every film I review in this challenge, I always consider different aspects of its process when handing out the stars. But with Avatar I’m completing abandoning that system and I’m awarding it all 5 stars for its visuals alone – because in this sense its a flawless masterpiece.

#187 / 365 – ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ (1957) – 116 mins
IMDb Challenge #113 / 250 – Ranked #127 – Via iTunes

Following a massive heart attack, infamous British barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Laughton) has been ordered by his doctors to forswear drinking, smoking, and his work in the courtroom. However, he is intrigued by the case of Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), a likeable fellow who’s accused of murdering a wealthy widow. The case is turned on its head when Vole’s loving wife (Marlene Dietrich) announces that they are not really married and agrees to be a witness for the prosecution.

Based on Agatha Christie’s 1953 play, Witness for the Prosecution possesses a slow burning and somewhat old-fashioned charm. Billy Wilder (‘Some Like It Hot’, ‘Sunset Boulevard’) shows just what a versatile director he is with this film. Off all the good performances on show, the most memorable is that of Marlene Dietrich who is superb in her role as mysterious and ice-cold Christine Vole, who will do anything for the man she loves.

With a killer ending Witness for the Prosecution manages to be a somewhat good courtroom drama without taking itself too seriously to make it a crime worth seeing, even if it doesn’t have overall lasting value.

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3 Responses to ‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 225

  1. Scott Lawlor says:

    I am little shocked by the 5 star Avatar rating. That is wildly different to what I would give the film.

    But I totally agree with you on District 9. such a lovely and surprising film. Brilliant!!

    This is Custard btw, Losing my nickname.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Scott aka Custard. I always consider different aspects of a films process when handing out the star ratings. But with Avatar I’m completing abandoning that system and I’m awarding it all 5 stars for its visuals alone – because to me in this sense its simply a flawless masterpiece. Probably not the right thing to do!

      I’m interested to know what you would give it?

  2. Nostra says:

    Also gave District 9 a 10/10, so I agree with you completely. Saw Avatar at the cinema and wasn’t as blown away by it as you are. It’s pretty good, but not a movie I’d want to watch again. I’m not a fan of Sam Worthington (don’t get his appeal as he doesn’t have much screen presence), so that’s also a big reason for it.

    When I saw the Sixth Sense for the first time I was half asleep, so didn’t catch a lot of the detail and wasn’t as shocked because of it. I have it in my DVD collection should will have to revisit this one day….

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