Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Films Watched in 2012 (Part One: 1-25)

  1. Albert Nobbs (2011) – Glenn Close is a really good actor, but she’s not great at pretending to be a man in 19th Century Ireland so she can get a job in a posh hotel in Dublin. It’s still a good film though for the dialogue and the cinematography.
  2. Annapolis (2006) – Chap from the wrong side of the tracks promises his dying mother he will make it to Annapolis Naval Academy, which he does. His admittance is particularly surprising as he’s not actually good at anything, except boxing, by which he supports himself. Due to resentment from his ship-building father, antagonism from his classmates and his own chippy attitude, he drops out – but guess what..?
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) – This has the potential to be an excellent film (despite the pretentious faux poetic ‘everything is connected so climate change is bad’ philosophising) with some superb acting from the young star (Quvenzhané Wallis) in New Orleans on the brink of the devastating hurricane. It is shot in queasy cam, however, so a total waste of time for me.
  4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) – starring Maggie Smith, Dame Judi, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Dev Patel, there is very little not to like in this film about a group of oldies who go on a retirement holiday to the recently-opened eponymous hotel where ‘nothing works out quite as expected’. The word charming is overused in film reviews, but it is perfectly apt in this instance.
  5. The Bourne Legacy (2012) – Tagline: there was never just one, and this one is Jeremy Renner doing a perfectly adequate job as Aaron Cross. It runs concurrently with the last Matt Damon one (The Bourne Ultimatum) so it helps to have seen them, although most people watching this are already fans of the franchise. With Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz it displays some flair, but suffers from sequel syndrome. Jason Bourne may have been the tip of the iceberg, but I’m not sure we really need to see all the stuff underneath.
  6. Breaking and Entering (2006) – Written and directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Jude Law, Juliet Binoche, Martin Freeman, and Robin Wright Penn this is meant to be a gritty modern parable with single mothers, tough relationships, Bosnian refugees and parkour galore, but it is ruined by over-earnestness.
  7. Brian’s Song (2001) – a remake of the apparently far superior 1971 version. It tells the story of two (real) American football players, Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, who were forced to room together and thus overcome racism and personal antipathy, but one wonders why a remake felt necessary?
  8. Bruno (2009) – Sacha Baron Cohen is one of those comedians who have fabulous ideas for sketch shows which don’t stretch to full-length films. This one about a self-styled Austrian fashion guru outstays its welcome by a good 70 minutes. (It has a running time of 81 minutes.)
  9. Carousel (1956) – Blimey, 1950s musicals were sexist (hitting your wife is acceptable as long as you love her), which leaves a very sour taste. It includes some great song and dance numbers though, such as June Is Bustin’ Out All Over, Clambake and, of course, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
  10. Cartoches Gauloises (2007) – A touching depiction of the friendship of two young boys whose parents are on opposite sides of the conflict in the lead-up to Algeria’s War of Independence in 1962.
  11. Le Concert (2009) – Highly enjoyable and completely unrealistic comedy about a Russian orchestra passing itself as the Bolshoi to play a concert in Paris.
  12. Concrete Canyons (2010) – Small-town tracker goes to big city Chicago to find his son who has gone into hiding as he is wanted for murder. At first he is not appreciated by the pretty female detective, but guess what...?
  13. Contagion (2011) – Kate Winslett is woefully underused in this film about a deadly airborne virus that can destroy humanity; the community falls apart rapidly in a way that is not so very far-fetched. Civil defence and public health services must have been terrified.
  14. Contraband (2012) – American action film starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale. I watched it on a plane where I gave it the attention it deserved.
  15. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Sadly overshadowed by the Colorado shootings, this was an excellent instalment in the Batman franchise. Anne Hathaway is rubbish as usual (although director, Christopher Nolan, made the most of her leather-clad booty) but Christian Bale and Tom Hardy are outstanding as the caped crusader and the new baddie respectively.
  16. Dark Shadows (2012) – Johnny Depp makes a pretty good vampire, but (as is often the case with a Tim Burton-directed film) the overall tone lacks cohesion: is it comedy, kids’ entertainment, or something altogether darker?
  17. La Délicatesse (2011) – Audrey Tatou in another French romantic comedy, but it has a little more bite and less whimsy than the nauseating Amélie. Perhaps it’s the introduction of the too-dull-to-be-true Swede as the love interest.
  18. The Devil’s Whore (2008) – released in the U.S.A. as The Devil’s Mistress (Because that sounds so much better?) this is an excellent drama about the personalities in the English Civil War. It’s interesting to see Peter Capaldi play something other than the foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm from The Thick of It (he plays Charles I here) and I love watching Maxine Peake and John Simm in anything.
  19. Down and Out in Beverley Hills (1986) – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this before, but even if I haven’t it was all underwhelmingly familiar. It’s quite a nasty piece of 80s American capitalist propaganda promoting shallow lifestyles and negating the value of charity.
  20. Dreamgirls (2006) – 1966: Showbiz is superficial and entirely based on looks. If you’re female, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a great voice and are a brilliant performer: all the attention will be on your size. Fast forward forty years to the Oscar-winning performance from Jennifer Hudson in the film based on the Broadway musical and you’ll find showbiz is superficial and entirely based on looks. If you’re female, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a great voice and are a brilliant performer: all the attention will be on your size.
  21. Empty Nest/ El Nido Vacío (2008) – Argentinean drama about a couple struggling with their own relationship once their children leave home and they realise they actually have very little in common. Interestingly, critical reviews are fairly evenly split: women like it; men don’t.
  22. Enid (2009) – Helena Bonham Carter is fantastic in this biopic about Enid Blyton. Society’s views on raising children are so different now from Edwardian times that she is pilloried for sending her children to boarding school and having a nanny so that she could actually – shock horror – work fulltime as a writer.
  23. Family Sins (2004) – Kirstie Alley is wonderfully evil in a made-for-TV movie based on a true story about an ostensibly happy family with horrible secrets in the basement.
  24. First Do No Harm (1997) – another made-for-TV movie, this time starring Meryl Streep as a mother of a boy with severe epilepsy, which doesn’t seem to respond to drug treatments. She tries to opt for natural therapies, but the medical profession fights her right to make decisions. It’s very one-sided, showing the herbalists to be the goodies with the doctors as the baddies, and although Meryl is as good as ever, the casting of ‘real people who have been through this’ lessens the overall acting factor.
  25. Five (2011) – Five individual stories (with different directors for each segment) about women affected by breast cancer – my favourite is (surprisingly directed by Jennifer Aniston) the woman (played by Patricia Clarkson) who recovered after giving away all her possessions and telling everyone exactly what she thought of them. Ooops!

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