Sunday 01 January 2012

I have been inundated with emails, texts and tweets since my 2011 music round-up the other day. Admittedly these have all been from O2 telling me about great deals. I have read between the lines and realised this means people are desperate to read a films round up of 2011 by me. Because I am getting old an can’t remember the difference between 2011 and 2005 so had to use this list as my primary source of films from this year. [Slave to convention alert!!] Also I have only included things I have seen so even though I have films such as Black Swan, We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Tree of Life on my ‘pretentious to do’ list. A final addendum – the list is clearly based on American release dates to there may be some things I have missed, where my memory has allowed it I have added things I know I saw this year that came out in the UK this year but I am sure I have missed loads.

2011 in Film

The Green Hornet was both not very good and not appalling in that way a lot of superhero type films seem to be nowadays. I didn’t see The Dilemma yet because it has Vince Vaughan in it and I think he has done all his good films now so it’s a waste of time watching anything he is in now. No Strings Attached was a passable romcom about the – and wait for this highly original concept – two friends who don’t realise they’re falling in love with each other while spending all their time together and having sex. It was so ok that they did an updated remake 5 months later with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, renaming it Friends With Benefits. A more traditonal remake – i.e. more than 4 weeks between original and remake – was True Grit which were proper good, and had the beauty of being an essential film for me as I can’t watch John Wayne films.

Unknown was a bit like Taken in that Liam Neeson was the star of another action film despite being 62. It was also better than lots of films with Jason Statham in – I do love ‘The Stath’ though. Hall Pass had neither Statham nor Neeson it – but despite this still wasn’t really funny at all despite a cast of funny actors and being directed by the Farrelly brothers (I had forgotten they weren’t funny anymore). The Fighter was one of them films where everyone focussed on Christian Bale (he was very good in it) but this brilliant film was yet another calling card for Mark Wahlberg for me. And Amy Adams.

The high concept action films hardly avalanched after Inception‘s success though The Adjustment Bureau did manage to get made without being directed by Christopher Nolan and was still good despite his absence, Matt Damon is untouchable eh? I did see Take Me Home Tonight but I just had to google it to see what it was; it wasn’t very good and Dan Fogler was in it (who I can’t really stand).

Early stab for blockbuster of the summer was Battlefied: Los Angeles, a film proving that a good trailer does not necessarily mean that a film will not be boring horse shit. The Lincoln Lawyer also came out around then, though not rubbish I would advise it as something to put on if you want to talk to someone and don’t want them distracted by something interesting on the screen. Paul was another film on the list of ‘films that aren’t very good that Simon Pegg has been in since he made Shaun of The Dead‘. That list is getting longer and longer.

While still hardly an avalanche, or even a snowballing concept/sci-fi actioner Source Code proved Jake Gyllenhaal can still act. It was a decent film and I can pay it no higher compliment than saying it seems like something Philip K Dick had written (he hadn’t – he did write the story Adjustment Bureau, though).  Super was weird but I liked it. Though The King’s Speech was lauded by awards ceremonies I didn’t see much to get excited about – apart from Helena Bonham Carter but that’s an entirely different story.

Some storied do need updating. Arthur was not one of them. Someone thought it would be a good idea for Russell Brand to see if he could outdo Dudley Moore at playing a charming pissant; he could not. After a few years Scream 4 saw the return of the Scream franchise, it needn’t have bothered coming back if I’m being honest; I only like the bit where they do all the clever post-modern film stuff and it always gets pushed under the carpet for the last half an hour while someone who hasn’t been in the film is uncovered as the killer.

At last something came along that was brilliant: Bridesmaids. Some idiot at the studios stopped making Kristen Wiig be a small – but superb – bit part in Judd Apatow productions and let her write and star in one, result: very funny film. Sadly what also seemed like a good idea proved not to be, ‘get everyone involved in The Hangover to be involved with the sequel’. The Hangover Part 2 was my most disappointing film of the year. X-Men First Class was not disappointing though and wins my franchise film of the year award. Somehow this seems to have turned in to an awards ceremony.

Super 8 was the best film Steven Spielberg has made in a few years. Well it would have been if he had been anything other than a Producer. Actually if he had been anything other than a producer it would have probably had to have some kind of adult theme or something darker. Or just looked shit, like Tintin (which I cannot really comment on because I haven’t seen it because it looked shit on the trailer and I mean looked shit – I hate the look of these motion capture films).

Meanwhile Bad Teacher (sadly not a sequel to Bad Santa) proved that having people be all unemotional, sweary and uncaring isn’t that funny – unless you have Seth Rogen involved, just like super hero films don’t become good super hero films by having Seth Rogen in them. Horrible Bosses also wasn’t that funny, proving that you have to do more than just get Jason Bateman  to be in your film to make it funny (as did The Change Up) AND proving having Jennifer Aniston in your film probably means it is shit.

Summer blockbuster-wise I couldn’t bring myself to watch Transformers 3 because of the experience of Transformers 2. Captain America managed not to come steeped with expectations and was ok, prefer my super heroes to have something better than a shield and an uncrackable love for USA though. Cowboys Vs Aliens managed to have a brilliant title, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde yet still be wank. I’m afraid I didn’t catch the Harry Potter film as I missed the previous seven. Rise of The Planet of The Apes was very good, however. Again I think this was a film that was helped by not being massively over-hyped – not that a POTA film needs to be given much of a push to get losers excited. I was excited and thought it was a decent addition to the ‘Apes canon.

I got to get excited about a few English films this year. Submarine was amazing and probably one of my favourite film of the year, having the perfect balance between capturing the feeling of being a certain age and having an interesting story to tell. It also looked amazing. Attack The Block was interesting and original if imperfect and lacking in some areas. Lacking in something was not something you could accuse Tyrannosaur of being: harsh, violent, sociopathic, emotional, sensory, beautiful. And while not English The Devil’s Double had Domonic Cooper (English) put in a bravura dual performance as the maniacal son of Saddam Hussein and a soldier ‘hired’ to be his double. While I am lumping non-English films in with the ‘English films’ paragraph I may as well nod to The Guard that was fucking brilliant and hilarious – if Irish.

Oh yeah..The Inbetweeners Movie is probably classified as English as well, if you classify something being written, directed and produced by English people with an all English cast an English film. Which you probably do. You’ve probably already seen it. It deserved all the praise and money it made, I thought it was funny as fudge.

And I haven’t seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Sue me.

The Help is meant to be very good and uplifting but I have seen as many ‘set in the ’50s films where the main white characters are really good to the black characters’ as I think I need to. I am sure there were millions of Americans who weren’t horrible racists and were progressive but these are all we ever see in films and televison. Not that I want to see films about people being horrible to anyone, I am just bored of sanitised versions of 1950s America whitewashing (eh? WHITEwashing??) history to an extent. Maybe it’s not about that at all – blame the trailer for making me think that.

Final Destination 5 nearly ruined my favourite franchise (about people cheating death for a period of somewhere between a day and several weeks), pulled it back with the last 6 minutes though.

Fright Night trailer>Fright Night.

Our Idiot Brother was worth a watch mainly because of Paul Rudd. He is great isn’t he, Paul Rudd? I like him anyway. And he make what is a very gentle story (i.e. not much happens) watchable for 90 minutes. The complete opposite in terms of things happening was Contagion that doesn’t really let up from someone coughing in the first minute to half the world being dead an hour later. I may have exaggerated there…or have I?? Oooh-ooooooooooh. It was a good film though – and I know some people don’t like Gwyneth Paltrow, but don’t be put off by her being in it; you might not have to deal with her on screen for too long *winky*

Red State disappointed me as a film, but interested me in terms of Kevin Smith doing something other than jokes about tits  and cocks. However I like his films about dicks and tits, especially where Jay and Silent Bob appear so I don’t mind if he goes back to them (despite his claims he is retiring). Moneyball also was a take it or leave it affair, doesn’t lend itself to being a film; read the book instead. I watched 50/50 only yesterday. A comedy about cancer is an odd thing, but this isn’t one of those cancer films where people try to win an Oscar; it’s a cancer where the guy gets through it (I am not ruining the film here, it was heavily promoted by the writer – and it is his true story, do the math) and ends up realising his girlfriend is a bitch and getting with a really attractive non-bitch.

Even fresher are my views on What’s Your Number? which I watched today. It’s one of those stupid concept films that, unfortunately, good comedy actors like Anna Farris seem to get lumbered with. Here she plays a girl who thinks she has slept with that many people that no man will look at her if the number of people she has slept with increases so she starts looking back at the men she has slept with for a man to spend her life with. Oh she gets help in finding these men from a good looking ladies man who lives across the hall who she CAN’T fall in love with (because she can’t sleep with another man remember..and a good looking guy she gets along with is soooooooooo wrong for her). It’s hard not to be a bit distracted by Farris’s mouth which seems to be a bit botched, like The Joker’s in The Dark Knight if it had been 24% more subtle.

In Time was shit.

So that’s it then…what? Ryan who? Goblin?

Ha, fucking wid ya? Ryan Gosling nailed it this year eh? Well he was in Crazy, Sexy, Love which was really good and amongst the best American comedies of the year. And he was very good in The Ides of March, it wasn’t his fault it had no third act. But come on..Drive..was it fucking awesome or what? And he was so fucking dreamy in it. If you haven’t seen it…still…then what’s up with you? Do you not understand torrents? They’re easy to do you know. Drive is my film of the year..

Top 4 Films of the Year 2011:

5. The Inbetweeners Movie

4. The Guard

3. The Fighter

2. Submarine

1. Drive

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