Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Films Watched in 2012 (Part Two: 26-50)

26. Fool’s Gold (2008) – A mindless Friday night film about treasure hunting with Kate Hudson for the boys and Matthew McConaughey for the girls.
27. Friends with Money (2006) – better than expected considering the four female characters range from vapid to vile.
28. The Good Times are Killing Me (2009) – a top-notch lawyer comes to terms with her alcoholism while still solving cases.
29. The Guard (2011) – Is Brendan Gleeson one of the greatest masters of comic timing ever? He makes drugs, blackmail and police corruption as darkly entertaining as the accompanying Guinness you should be drinking.
30. Heartbreaker/ L’Arnacouer (2010) – French romantic comedy about a bloke (Romain Duris) who’s hired to break up unsuitable couples (usually by seducing the woman away from the man). Of course it all goes wrong when he actually falls for the woman in question (Vanessa Paradis).
31. The Help (2011) – It’s okay, but did it really deserve all the plaudits? It looks wonderful and the cast work really hard but none of them seem to be given enough depth by the writing. I broke my rule of always reading the book before I see the film, which I fear may have been a mistake, as I’m sure the book must have more subtlety and be a little less black and white (do you see what I did there?).
32. Holy Motors (2012) – utterly bonkers, and the most interesting and challenging film I've seen in ages

33. Horrible Bosses (2011) – Neither good nor bad; watchable but not particularly memorable comedy about three blokes who try to get rid of their bosses – the fun is in seeing said bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) play against type.

34. Hugo (2011) – Delightfully well-filmed and acted piece of brilliance for children and adults from Martin Scorcese. It features a fantasy world filled with train stations, early film-making, automatons, fatherhood, friendship and clocks. You can watch it in 3D if you like, although it is magical enough without it. Incidentally, this includes an example of what Sacha Baron Cohen does really well in his fine study of a character of a villainous station master with hidden vulnerability.
35. In Her Shoes (2005) – Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz play unlikely sisters who discover they have a grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) still alive. All three reactions to their re-introduction are touchingly honest – some good honest acting and direction (Curtis Hanson).
36. Incendies (2010) – Canadian drama about twins travelling to the Middle East on learning about their mother’s past and the existence of a hitherto unknown brother well deserves its Oscar nomination for best foreign film.
37. Jane Doe: How to Fire Your Boss (2007) – a curious number about a secret US government experiment in mind control; curious as in how on earth did this ever get made?

38. A Kiss Before Dying (1991) – A remake of a 1956 film based on an Ira Levin novel; quite creepy in a soft focus Matt Dillon sort of a way.

39. Lawless (2012) – The collaboration of Nick Cave (screenwriter and soundtrack supplier) and John Hillcoat (director) is not quite as powerful as in the kangaroo Western, The Proposition, but once again the redefine the concept of blood brothers, this time set during prohibition in Virginia when bootlegging outlaws became the new heroes. All the acting is stellar, but Guy Pearce steals the show as sadistic, maniacal, lavender-gloved law-enforcer Special Deputy Charlie Rakes, and should earn great plaudits as screen villain of the year.
40. Lethal Vows (1999) – Psychological drama based on a true story about a woman who suspects her husband is trying to poison her with selenium. It’s a wonder anyone gets married at all in Hollywood.
41. The Lion in Winter (1968) – Watched as part of my on-going self-taught history of cinema. King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) dithers over which of his three sons to name as his successor, while his estranged wife (Katharine Hepburn) pops out of her tower of imprisonment to provide a meddlesome sparring partner and remind him of her previous affair with King Philip II of Spain (Timothy Dalton).

42. Maytime in Mayfair (1949) – When a penniless man-about-town is left a Mayfair fashion salon and decides to try and get to grips with ladies’ couture rather than selling off the business. They don’t make films like this anymore – it’s billed as a comedy musical and although it’s perfectly pleasant (Michael Wilding and Anna Neagle have pretty good chemistry) there’s barely a smattering of comedy or music.
43. The Mermaid Chair (2006) – Kim Bassinger had a good run, but has been gasping for breath since 8 Mile, which came out four years before this dead fish flop.
44. Midnight Run (1988) – Robert de Niro stars in the comedy action film (a genre that was phenomenally popular in 80s America) as a tough bounty hunter charged with bringing an embezzler (Charles Grodin) from New York to Los Angeles for justice. The handcuffed journey provides top action and dialogue as the ‘real’ story comes out.

45. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) – It’s still a good franchise with benchmark action sequences, and Tom Cruise remains committed to his performances as Ethan Hawke. It may be the fourth instalment, but it’s still stylish solid entertainment.
46. Murder in Greenwich (2002) – Some say that money talks, but in this based on truth film it pays people to keep quiet about a murder committed 25 years ago. It’s narrated by the dead woman in a way I find tastelessly twee.
47. My Fellow Americans (1996) – Not as schmaltzy as you might expect considering Jack Lemmon and James Garner play feuding ex-presidents who try to overcome political and personal differences for the greater good ole’ U. S. of A. Every single review refers to it as ‘Grumpy Old Presidents’ so I shall too.

48. My Week with Marilyn (2011) – An entertaining and engaging film, in which Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s (Sir Kenneth Brannagh), documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during production of The Prince and the Showgirl. Of course, Marilyn is the star of the show and Williams outstandingly captures her allure and vulnerability, but the whole cast are expertly directed by Simon Curtis, and Dame Judi Dench gives a star turn as Dame Sybil Thorndike.
49. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011) –Perhaps it’s just me; everyone else seems to think this Turkish police investigation film is a ‘slow burning work of genius’. Apparently there is a fine line between creative and dull: I think this crossed it.
50. Our Guys: Outrage at Glen Ridge (1999) – Another of those based-on-a-true-story movies, about a pack of high-school jocks who raped a mentally handicapped girl and were protected by the school because they were going to win a football trophy and she asked for it. Heather Matarazzo is excellent in the main role, while Ally Sheedy and Eric Stoltz are also good as the detective and prosecutor who confront the smugly conservative suburban majority.

1 comment:

blurooferika said...

Kate, to answer your question about The Help, which I read for my book group, no, there's not a whole lot more substance in the novel itself. The film hews pretty close to the novel and those who read it gained very little additional insight into the characters.

It was a *fun* read, though it was predictable. I think it won such accolades for its focus on race—and Viola Davis did portray the Minnie character perfectly.