Thread: Film Lists 2013
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 16:42   #1
Noumenon
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Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
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Default Film Lists 2013

67 Cloud Atlas (should be down there in the twenties, actually)
66 22 Bullets
65 12 Years a Slave
64 My Dinner With Andre
63 The Adventures of Tintin - Secret of the Unicorn
62 Fermat's Room
61 The Lovely Bones
60 The Fountainhead
59 The Wizard of Oz
58 The Wolverine
57 Cruising
56 The Shining
55 Interiors
54 Europa Report
53 Captain Philips
52 A Royal Affair
51 A Dangerous Method
50 Man of Steel
49 Atlas Shrugged, Part Two
48 White House Down
47 Gravity
46 Exam
45 Atlas Shrugged, Part One
44 Children of Men
43 Trance
42 Rush
41 Now You See Me
40 The Disappearance of Alice Creed
39 Men In Black
38 Midnight in Paris
37 Mud

36 Elysium
Two stars is the best this can hope for, really, and it's a major push I only bother to make for the sake of the visuals. Elysium is a case study in audience hand-holding (or is that nose-leading?) through the most painfully obvious of scenarios from the opening frame to the last. No emotional cue goes un-flashbacked, no cliché unexpressed, no expectation unreaslised. But after making the easy stuff such hard work it skimps to the most appalling degree on anything that might burst this oh so flimsy bubble - and there's plenty that does. This is a skeleton story with the connective tissues removed, a real disappointment for anyone who enjoyed Neill Blomcamp's far superior debút. District 9 degenerated into exactly this kind of action nonsense in its final act. Elysium offers less throughout.

35 Bravissimo
A 1955 Italian comedy starring the great Alberto Soldi, in which he plays a selfish, self-aggrandising... actually I'm not sure what he is, exactly. "A penniless not quite supply teacher" comes closest, I guess. He is forced to take care of a six year-old boy whose relatives can't be bothered to, but who then turns out to be an operatic baritone child-prodigy. Cue fevered plans to get rich quick and renewed interest in familial duty from the poor boys more ridiculous that wicked uncles... lots of fun.

34 Predator
Simple and classic.

33 Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
I need to think about this one. It may well be a five star movie.

32 Extraterrestre (Extraterrestrial) /

31 Oblivion
Sigh. This movie could be summed up by pointing out that it contains an opening monologue-sequence which (in addition to signposting the plot twist an hour or more early) proved entirely superfluous, as when the actual story started every single blessed word of it was blahhed out by one person or another at a more appropriate time. It's that kind of movie, the obvious one that Hollywood makes every year or so but then worries that people won't get (even though it is basically a cut-and-paste job from dozens of other sci-fi bits) and so they over-explain up front, making the following hours kind of drag. The weird thing is, from start to finish it's done with such polished confidence that you almost go along with it, even when it's stupid, which is often. It's a one-star yarn with two-star presentation, and should be consigned to its namesake as soon as possible.

30 Pitch Black

29 Seeking a friend for the end of the world

28 Star Trek Into Darkness

27 High Noon

26 A Field in England

25 Four Lions

21-24 Harry Potter and the Last Four Movies

20 Stand Up Guys
Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin. What's not to like? I came to this with, aside from some anticipation regarding the three leads, distant memories of seeing Tough Guys, in which Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas played ageing crooks fresh out of jail and embarking on one last heist. Stand Up Guys is not quite the same thing: here it's only one tasting freedom, and the last thing anyone wants to do is relive the old days. At least, not at first. It's almost a road movie and not bad overall, a touch sentimental and mostly slow moving, like its protagonists/ The humour is low key, eschewing one-liners (with one rather plodding exception) in favour of lingering on the performances, which... well, let's not pretend this is anything but three guys doing that thing they each do. The story veers between the predictable and the unexpected, but the end result is an entertaining, slightly pulpy drama with a pretty decent cast. It would make a good short story, and that's not a bad measure for a movie.

19 Side Effects
I'm mostly a fan of Steven Soderbergh, and I'm mostly a fan of this film, too. It's great to look at, never boring, the acting is all... ahem ...yes, is all fine... where was I? It's an interesting movie, which is certainly not mutually exclusive with having an interesting story, but can lead you to study the one more than sink into the other. The nature of the drama shifts strangely throughout, along with our perceptions of all... ahem ...yes, all of the characters. You'd certainly not be able to predict where it was heading, if it wasn't for... ahem ...for Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas.

Ahhh, that's mean: It's a good movie.

18 The League of Gentlemen
Jolly spiffing British capers as an eight-man gang of disgraced former soldiers, each one a specialist in his field, are assembled to pull a daring daylight heist of a London bank. All the chaps are frightfully decent sorts, but never forget: they are up to no good... Made in 1959, just a few years before the actual Great Train Robbery (and allegedly the inspiration for that crime), the accents are all a bit plummy but it's not as stagey as I anticipated. It's certainly light entertainment, then as now, more than a bit dated but still fun. Plus there's that outstanding cameo by a young Oliver Reed - oh my.

17 Battleship
Lots of crap films are based on computer games these days, but for the film-makers of Battleship to admit that theirs was based on the Hasbro board game took a lot of balls. Enough to merit one star in fact, which is fortunate, because this was so laughably bad that even the near ceaseless procession of cringe-worthy character clichés, bargain-basement plotting and, of course, explosions which comprised this nonsense really wouldn't have earned one without that. Part One of my Tim Riggins Movie Marathon achieved exactly the low expectation threshold required to make John Carter (formerly Of Mars) potentially look really, really good. I can hardly wait. But, for the sake of my brain, I shall.

EDIT: And I'm still fighting that flagging urge.

16 Headhunter (Hodejegerne)
I got this film anticipating an evening in the company of Lars Mikkelsen, aloof star suspect of Forbrydelsen series one and brother of Casino Royale's villainous Mads - except that was a different film of the same name. Damn. This is a novelty heist flick which started well, setting up a smooth but short-of-stature corporate head-hunter who moonlights as an art thief; then Game of Throne's brilliantly named Nikolaj Coster-Waldau showed up, caught the eye of the hero's statuesque Nordic goddess - er, "wife" - and the whole thing abruptly jumped right off the deep end. It gradually regained some composure, providing cool, mad and harsh moments on the way to a rather cheesy ending. Not great, but not totally rubbish either.

15 Back to the Future
Precisely as much fun as it was the first time I saw it - and this was the first time my girlfriend saw it! I don't know how they raise their children in Italy, but they clearly don't do it properly. If their calamitous political situation is anything to go by, they treated them to repeat viewings of Back to the Past. Anyway, looking forward to Part Two...

EDIT: Well, that didn't happen in the end. Maybe in the future...

14 Cockneys vs. Zombies
I sought this out after Mark Kermode passingly praised it. I'm not sure what film he was talking about, but I saw a version in which the few actual jokes were heavily signposted, the plot conveniently trivial (or vice versa) and the characters all paper-thin caricatures of caricatures. I might have laughed, once or twice, but it was an effort. Shaun of the Dead this is not, and any lingering tolerance I might have felt for fackin' east end mankeys was terminally crushed by the closing monologue. Everyone associated with this piece of shit should consider themselves thought of by me as a Berkshire Hunt. Look it up.

13 Berberian Sound Studio
About halfway through Berberian Sound Studio, my girlfriend leaned my way and said "This movie sucks". I disagree, and I'm correct to do so. The rightly admired Toby Jones is excellent as Gilderoy, a mild-mannered English sound technician flown out to Italy by a charismatic director to make all the difference to his lurid horror flick and who finds himself increasingly disturbed by what he sees, both on the screen and off it. The great strength of the film is that, though we never see a frame of the film being made, we have ample opportunity to be disturbed by what we hear. That, plus the generally striking quality of the acting, the simple but rich cinematography, the off-kilter script... very interesting. I might even take the time to review it properly.

12 Flight
Rather like Training Day for me, this is a film in which Denzel Washington's talent is there to see but the overall experience isn't up to that same level. After setting up the flaws of the protagonist with efficient competence, the genuinely thrilling end to the first act asks a lot of the rest of the film, which simply returns to its earlier focus and never achieves the same heights. There's plenty of drama, but an ever growing need for some kind of moral accounting takes the pilot's seat and once it sets course for home it won't be turned aside, even if that means the critical moment of change feels quite arbitrary - and the coda wraps everything up with a nice, socially responsible bow which even manages to sap the impact of that. Although there is still much to be enjoyed here, it is ultimately entertainment drama. Leaving Las Vegas offers a far superior, far harder examination of the central themes.

11 Silver Linings Playbook
I ignored this with stout resolution until, completely by accident, I found out it was a David O. Russell movie and immediately went to the cinema. And it is good fun, with pretty tight (Oscar-winning? apparently) performances from the two leads and some genuinely funny and/or moving moments. Except... well, I found almost all the supporting characters over-blown, and as the film progressed I got the distinct impression that there were things languishing on the cutting room floor (that phrase needs an IT-age update) that I needed to see for this to be a truly coherent narrative; on discovering in the credits that this was adapted from a novel, that impression made a lot of sense. The biggest disappointment came in the climax, which managed to make this feel like just another underdog success flick, if considerably more left-field than the Hollywood mainstream type. A good movie then, but no I <3 Huckabees.

10 Django Unchained
Ehhhhhhh... How to justify three stars. Well, there are the performances: Foxx and Waltz are good, DiCaprio and Jackson better. And there are sequences that I enjoyed quite a lot: the saloon, the reunion, the dinner. But... episodic from the outset, it hangs together less well the longer it goes on, and it never seems to end. Structurally, it reminded me of Deathproof (extended chains of dialogue scenes building up to set-piece killings; repeat; end on a beat with comic-book sensibility) and the impression I had of escalating triviality and a general decline on Tarantino's part, which I so thoroughly and pleasantly revised with Inglourious Barsterds, has only returned with greater strength. The ending is ridiculous, embarrassing really. It may lose a star by the end of the year.

EDIT: it lost a star before April...

09 Lincoln
How to justify not-five-stars. In a way it's easy, because - in spite of DDL's flawless performance, the genuinely beautiful Barry Lyndon standard of the image on the screen, the deft script that mixes fire and calm - I found myself waiting for a character arc in the midst of all the epic storytelling; anyone's character, not necessarily Lincoln's, but I don't think I got one. I enjoyed it for a variety of reasons, but one of those wasn't Old Man Spielberg's sentimental streak, the lingering looks of great significance, usually on the part of the minor (-ity? at times) players. Nor did I like the shower scene. But it is still a fine film.

08 Toy Story 3
Oh, dear, I cried. Really. I'm such a soft touch.

07 Kon-Tiki
This was the film I wanted to make, dagnabit. It's not quite Life of Pi, but last year's Norwegien maritime adventure is pretty good in its own right, featuring solid performances and a few thrills along the way. Reasonably true to life, although some of the dramatisation feels a little overblown (and poor Herman Watzinger may well be spinning in his grave...).

06 Little Miss Sunshine
It's just a great little film, isn't it? My girlfriend sat enraptured throughout with never less than a half-smile on her face... me too, probably.

05 Dredd
On the surface, it's nothing but fascistic, Dystopian, super-violent bullet porn, and everything the Stallone version wasn't - for a start he keeps the helmet on. However, stepping beyond this most fanboy of details, Dredd turned out to have numerous touches that truly harked back to the style of the source material; the burden of characterisation was laid firmly (and rightly) across the shoulders of everyone except the titular Judge, and I can honestly say that I'd like to see them make another.

EDIT: It's possible I should revise Dredd up to four stars - after recommending it too enthusiastically to a bunch of friends, they had us all sit down and give it a go. Two viewings in a month and it held up just fine.

04 Zero Dark Thirty
Bigelow constructs a quality piece of politically aware post-9/11 espionage drama but, much like with The Hurt Locker, she fails to hit centre target when it comes to character. In spite of this it manages to be engrossing throughout, the torture scenes particularly so, although many peripheral events proved clockwork-predictable to me. I preferred Argo overall, but that film's dramatic ending was a little strained; ZD30 by contrast builds to a masterful piece of military high tension.

03 The Master
Sorry Bill...
I gave it four stars at first, but although I look back on it a little more kindly over time I also have to revise it down a notch. Excellent performances, design and cinematography can't support the weight of what is ultimately over-long art house fare; fine in its moments, and if it lasted two hours it would be a masterpiece, but for me it pales beside There Will Be Blood.

02 Life of Pi
Impossible not to be generous. A beautiful visual experience and a moving emotional journey, I enjoyed it far more than the source novel and far more than I expected to. The heritage of the novel, rendered into a clunkily saccharine interview, is its only flaw, but not sufficiently so to warrant a points drop; and without it Irrfan Khan would have been a hard-to-justify participant beyond his mellifluous voice, so for that reason alone it demanded inclusion. His younger persona was equally well played, and I find myself surprised that this would be the benchmark 2013's other movies are to be judged against.

01 The Hobbit
Revised down from three stars. It's bloated, repetitive, filled with countless dwarves that don't look very dwarfish and certainly not saved by the encounter with Gollum, which lacked any semblance of his lynch-pin sequence from LotR: The Two Towers. All in all, an arse-breaking slog, in which (against all the odds) the song may well have been the best bit. I'm sure I'll see all the "parts" to come, of course...

2012 list | 2011 list | 2010 List | 2009 List | 2008 List | 2007 List

Last edited by Noumenon; 28th Dec 2013 at 18:59. Reason: Grey for repeat viewings
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