Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Films watched in 2011 (Part One)

Having already posted about my favourite films released in 2011, I thought I would post about all the films I saw this year. Of course, they were not all released this year, so I have put the year in brackets. There are quite a few of them - once again, I didn't realise I have seen so many, so I shall split them up into three posts. They are in alphabetical order, so without further ado...

13 (dir. Gela Babluani, 2010)
An English-language remake of the 2005 French film 13 Tzameti, starring Sam Riley, Ray Winstone, Curtis Jackson, Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham – a kind of Clockwork Orange menace brought to Russian roulette.

Adam Resurrected (dir. Paul Schrader, 2008)
Jeff Goldblum stars as a literally barking mad Holocaust survivor in an asylum – not exactly a laugh a minute, but it’s certainly different.

Adjustment Bureau (dir. George Nolfi, 2011)
Smart sci-fi, futuristic, action adventure about how much we control our destiny and how much it is controlled by outside forces, with solid performances by Emily Blunt and Matt Damon.

Anonymous (dir. Roland Emmerich, 2011)
If you are happy to go with the premise that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare (despite being dead when the events that inspired some of the bard’s greatest works – including MacBeth – occurred), and have no idea about English social history, you might enjoy this over-earnestly acted period piece. However, the character of Shakespeare himself (played by Rafe Spall) is still the most entertaining thing in it.

Being John Malkovich (dir. Spike Jonz, 1999)
It must be tough – it’s certainly crazy, according to this film, and also insanely brilliant.

Being Julia (dir. István Szabó, 2004)
Annette Bening is fantastic as the ‘older actress’ (40) resorting to desperate measures to get noticed in a youth-obsessed industry. And this was in the 1930s! Based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, the story rings true and provides wry smiles, sharp dialogue and credible characterisation.

The Birthday Girl (dir. Jez Butterworth, 2001)
From the days when Nicole Kidman actually acted; she speaks Russian too – she’s pretty good at both in this offering.

Bitter/Sweet (dir. Jeff Hare, 2009)
This is meant to be a romance/drama/comedy, but there is little of either with an entirely predictable story-line (I’m reluctant to use the word plot) and woeful acting from the leading lady, but the scenery is nice – it’s set in Thailand.

Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2010)
The trailer for this is better than the film itself. It’s a bit bonkers with no surprises to anyone who has even rudimentary knowledge of Swan Lake. I believe it is meant to be a psychological thriller but I found myself laughing out loud. Bizarrely Natalie Portman won an Oscar for best performance by an actress in a leading role, although Mila Kunis outshines her in every way.

The Box (dir. Richard Kelly, 2009)
Would you open a box if it meant you would get a million dollars and someone you didn’t know would die? Sort of like philosophy for dummies; college students will love it.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (dir. Mark Herman, 2008)
For some reason I was expected the ending to be changed to a happy Hollywood affair – the fact that it remains the same as the book managed to shock me even though I was expecting it. The tension is maintained throughout – a well-produced film.

The Break-Up (dir. Peyton Reed, 2006)
Jennifer Aniston has a nice bum; Vince Vaughan has a sense of humour and is probably better off without her – that’s all I can tell you from watching this film.

Brighton Rock (dir. Rowan Joffe, 2011)
Graham Greene’s classic tale of teenage nihilism has been moved to the 60s, presumably because audiences will find it easier to relate to, but even with superb performances from Helen Mirren, Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough and Philip Davis, it lacks the necessary menace and foreboding to make it a top-rate thriller.

The Butcher’s Wife (dir. Terry Hughes, 1991)
This is how they made rom-coms twenty years ago with Demi Moore and Jeff Daniels as the love interests; thank God those days have gone.

Cewek Gokil (dir. Rizal Mantovani, 2011)
An Indonesian film in which the ‘star’, Keke, narrates the story of how she desperately wants her own car to gain independence and help her mother; the acting is uniformly bad and the cod psychology even worse – a Disney-style capitalist’s dream in Indonesia.

Chaos Theory (dir. Marcos Siega, 2008)
Entertaining rom-com/drama about a man whose highly-structured and organised life is thrown into turmoil by a sequence of unrelated events which threaten to destroy his marriage, career, and family – it ends obviously ever after, but takes quite a fun route to get there.

The Conspirator (dir. Robert Redford, 2010)
Worthy but plodding take on the justice system after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln – James McAvoy is good but even he can’t quite raise it above a pedestrian level.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (dir. Glenn Ficarra, 2011)
Perfect plane viewing – pretty obvious and not at all demanding with some good solid acting and snappy dialogue. Jacob, played by Ryan Gosling, is the highlight of the film, delivering with panache, one-liners Oscar Wilde might have written were he alive today.

Desperate Remedies (dir. Stewart Main and Peter Wells, 1993)
Deliberately over-blown melodrama with lingering looks to the camera and appalling dialogue; supposedly a classic but like a big bad opera.

Devil (dir. Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle, 2010)
Being stuck in a lift is bad enough, but when your fellow trapped passengers are dying in mysteriously gruesome ways, and one of them turns out to be the Devil, it must be the ultimate nightmare. This story conceived by M. Night Shyamalan is entertaining to watch although Him Outdoors says there are easier ways to get people out of lifts.

Duplicity (dir. Tony Gilroy, 2009)
Spy thriller with action, romance, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts – of course I’m going to love it. All the pieces fit in the puzzle and after all the smart technology, split screens, chronological leaps, dazzling directing, and seductive acting, the final picture is a just reward.

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