So tbV and i just flew a pretty long flight with Emirates via Dubai to San Francisco [which is a much greater way to do it than our previous Cape Town Joburg/Joburg Dubai/ Dubai Washington or New York/ Washington or New York San Francisco simply because of less plane-changing] and, as always for me, it is all about the movie-watching.
My previous record was seven i think although that included World War Z and another movie i can’t remember that i realised later i didn’t know enough about and had quite likely fallen asleep in for large parts of it. i have since watched World War Z but realised that that record didn’t really hold. No doubts remain after these flights in which i watched ten movies and most of an 11th…
Honourable mention to Penguins of Madagascar which was a lot of fun, but which i ran out of flight for [or at least headphones as the highly stressed flight attendant lady came around collecting them and had to watch the last 20 minutes sound free] so doesn’t qualify as completed movie.
In terms of the 10, this isn’t a true reflection of how much i enjoyed them as i find it quite tough to compare movies across different genres – Expendables for example being a completely more ridiculous movie in all aspects than something like Maze Runner, but still just a lot of silly fun. So this is a vague idea of a list of how i would rate the films i saw – on the plus side there were none that i regretted seeing and not a single one that i didn’t enjoy in one way or the other…
 Mortdecai – You had me at Johnny Depp. Although he has been in a bit of a slump for a long time in terms of working well-received movies and i was very sad when i heard Mortdecai, like a lot of his recent ones, did not perform well. But my friend Megan Giggles saw it recently and said it was a lot of jolly good fun and so i had to give it a try. And because, well, Johnny Depp. The main reason this one features at the bottom of the list is i think technical as there was a lot of noise on our first flight around take-off time and generated from sitting right on the wing i think and we had sound issues [the one movie Val watched with me – otherwise she saw all different ones i think and so we had to almost perfectly synch the timing of them so our peripheral vision wouldn’t detect spoilers – although i ended up being about a second ahead which proved a highlight as any time i knew she would love a joke or moment i got to sneak a peek and watch as she experienced it in the moment!]
But yes, it was not a great movie but was a lot of silly fun with excellent supporting performances particularl from an over the top British accented Gwyneth Paltrow [simply delightful, darling!] and an excellent Paul Bettany as Mortdecai’s bodyguard who keeps getting injured by Mortdecai in a series of unfortunate accents. Just a lot of ridiculous fun and an excellent rainy day distraction. But MAKE ANOTHER GREAT MOVIE, Johnny! Pirates 5, anyone?
 Annie – Anyone that knows me a little bit well, knows that i typically am not a big fan of musicals [unless they are incredible productions like the movies Moulin Rouge, Les Miserables and i even thought Mamma Mia was fun every time Pierce Brosnan stopped singing]. That has always been my gripe with Disney movies – why ruin a good cartoon with singing? [Unless it’s Lion King with incredible songs or Aladdin with fun ones]. But the moment i saw the trailer to the new Annie reboot with Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role, i knew it was one i was going to enjoy. i guess it is also completely ridiculous as a story but just such a lot of super fun and most of the songs were great and i loved it. And it may or may not have sparked some serious dust issues in my eyes towards the end of the film. They nailed it, with Cameron Diaz an absolute treat as the over-the-top seriously-lonely-and-desperate Miss Hannigan…
 The Maze Runner – When this arrived on the scene, i didn’t know too much about it. In a Young-Adult-Themed futuristic movie overload period which brought us The Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game and more, this did seem like just another one to add to the list. But the trailer was intriguing and so while i didn’t make huge effort to watch it on the big screen i knew it was a matter of time before i saw it. And yeah, once again an all around fun vibe of a movie. And with a setup for more to follow. I can’y remember how particularly successful this was at the Box Office so not sure if they are going ahead with the others but as a standalone it works and the cast is enthusiastic and energetic enough to keep you engaged. So if this is your thing, then this particular movie will be your thing. And if not, then probably not. But i enjoyed it as a popcorn entertainment moment during a long flight.
 What we Did on our Holiday – This did not crack the nod on my initial circle-the-movies-i-really-want-to-watch-in-the-movie magazine-list run and was towards the end of our journey, so probably six hours and maybe two movies left to go. And it probably came down to watching this or the Simon Pegg, ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ which i’d seen the trailer of and which looked fun. What We Did on our Holiday appealed to me largely cos it had my favourite Doctor Who actor, David Tennant [who i LOVE] [no, appreciate in a movie acting kind of way] and also starred Billy Connolly, who you can rarely go wrong with. The premise of this looked a lot more drama’ey but i think Connolly was the swing vote. It was such an interesting movie as it focused largely on a broken-down relationship of a couple with three absolutely delightful children who were going to visit his father for his 75th birthday and wanting to pretend [very unsuccessfully] that everything was still alright with them. Really just a stunning indie pic exploring the complexity of relationships and family and parenting. Not as funny as i thought it was going to be [although it had some great moments] but more just a beautiful journey with a pleasing, yet honest, ending. i don’t feel this deserves 7th place on a top 10 list [especially with an Expendables ahead of it] and so without having to redo the whole list, would probably stick it in the top 3, realising that other movies are ahead of it here for different reasons. But well worth hunting down.
 What We Do In The Shadows – This is a particularly palated fine wine. As in not to everyone’s taste, but for those whose taste it is for, you will really enjoy it. This Vampire spoof mockumentary is a must for fans of Flights of the Conchord, whose Jermaine Clement both directs and plays Vladislav, one of the main housmate vampires in question. Rhys Darby, who Conchord fans will recognise as on-again-off-again band manager, Murray, cameos as the leader of the werewolves who, when confronted by Vladislav and one of his pack swears at them, reminds them that, “We don’t do that. We’re werewolves, not swearwolves.” Just a fun, delightful, well-written romp of a movie, weaving the documentary style so convincingly into its narrative.
 Expendables 3 – i mean, let’s be honest, this is completely ridiculous in terms of acting and dialogue and story and everything, but when trapped upon a metallic object flying with hundreds of people through the air to your destination, it is the best kind of absolutely ridiculous around. And i have to say i thought it was definitely the best of the three so far. As ridiculous as the dialogue is, they manage to work in some incredibly clever self-deprecations and nods to the audience and one of the best of these [if you know the whole background story to how Bruce Willis was left out of the movie after a money dispute] was when someone asked about Church [Willis’ character who was in the previous movie] and Stallone’s dead pan response was, “He’s out of the picture.” If you enjoyed I and II then you will definitely enjoy this one and if you’re looking for in depth characters, clever plotline and Academy Award winning performances, then you may not be as big a fan. Special mention to the new guys Wesley Snipes [amazing line about his tax evasion issues off screen] Antonio Banderas and Mel Gibson as well as the one female in the cast, Ronda Rousey [they finally brought a girl in] who more than held her weight in a man-heavy franchise.
 Ex Machina – This was fascinating and could quite easily have been the best movie i saw on the flight, even though the other three movies ahead of it have specific reasons for being there. Certainly the most interesting. And being on the flight i assume the nudity [deals with artificial intelligence in the form of female android robot types] was blocked out specifically for the flight, so may be a whole lot more graphic if renting this elsewhere. The basic premise was that a highly skilled computer programmer wins a competition to spend a week with his boss who has created this AI [Artificial Imntelligence] woman and wants him to test the AI and see if it’s legit. The cast of Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander who plays the AI in question is phenomenal and this truly deserves to be a movie on people’s lips come award time. How do you determine the moment a computer stops simply being programmed and starts realistically thinking and reasoning for itself? is really the question in play here.
Just such a brilliant movie with a complex level of different layers at play in terms of the relationship between Caleb [the young programmer] and Nathan [the creator] as well as between both of them and Ava, the AI. Definitely a great film to watch with a bunch of friends and then sit around the meal table discussing. Probably the best movie i have seen this year and the others on this list only got ahead of it due to their importance to me.
 and  Before Sunrise and Before Sunset – the moment tbV saw these on the flight she pretty much insisted i watch them. Ha Ha. i have been trying to watch ‘Before Sunrise’ for ever and just never finding it. Our local dvd store where we rent has part II and III of the trilogy but have been talking about it forever and on the rare occasions when i have seen it available, Val has already watched it and i didn’t want to make her have to see it again. So mission accomplished. For anyone who recently watched the Richard Linklater movie Boyhood [which also starred Ethan Hawke from these movies and which was filmed over a period of twelve years] this has a similar feel to it. A movie where Jesse and Céline, played by Hawke and Julie Delpy, meet on a train in Vienna and decide to spontaneously spend the day together and which basically focuses on a long set of conversations between them about a whole range of different topics, which ends in a passionate romantic encounter between the two of them.
Then the second movie follows nine years later where we learn that their plan to meet up again six months later never materialised [the reasons are understandable] and a chance meeting in Paris where Jesse has written a book largely based on that one night affair and bumps into Céline and they spend an afternoon together in the hours he has before he has to catch a plane.
For two movies based on a long extended conversation basically, Hawke and Delpy just completely entice and mesmerise and manage to hold your gaze the whole way through. i look forward to catching the third, Before Midnight [which was not on offer] which our dvd store does have, when we get home.
 Selma – This probably cracks the number one spot more for its importance, than just because it was my favourite movie [as mentioned i would probably pip it with Ex Machina in that regard] but at the same time it was also an excellently crafted movie and so perhaps sharing the number one spot would be a better decision. But with a standout cast including David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jnr and Carmen Ejogo as his wife Coretto Scott King, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Roth, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding Jnr and a whole host more, and a riveting story of the marches that took place to secure equal voting rights in the town of Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. This was such an important movie for Americaland and everything that is going on here at the moment in terms of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the media attention on all of the way-too-many cop-on-black violence cases that have been highlighted over the last few months in particular. And it feels like an important movie for us in South Africa as well and i can imagine tbv and i arranging a screening and dinner at our home sometime soon after we get home, in the hopes of some good conversation.
When Luther started his ‘My eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord’ speech in the closing minutes of the movie and they displayed the fates of various real life characters, my own eyes were filled with tears and it just stirred me to continue and to be asking more deeply some of the questions that face us back home. How not just those who aggressively and violently got involved against those marching [or against black folk in general] were to blame, but also those who refused to get involved when injustice was blatantly happening in front of them. When they called for a second march and a lot of white people responded from around the country by actually pitching up and showing solidarity, that gave me hope. It needs to happen more – we need to show up. That is quite possibly the next step after conversation. Or quite possibly during.
So yes, not an easy movie to watch. But an inspiring one and done with great direction, casting, acting and everything else.
So there you have it. We flew in May and fly back in July so there should be a few new movies added in there although i did leave some i definitely want to see for the flight home, including Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken [that my mate Roy Langhein plays a cameo background extra role in] and The Hundred Foot Journey and more…
How many of these have you seen? Which one, of the ones you have watched, would have made your number one? And why…