Sunday 15 December 2013

Trying to write some kind of review of the year in film is somewhat complicated by not having seen a lot of the runners and riders. The 400 films released every week make it difficult to stay on top of them all. And they’re so long.

There used to be about 16 films a year and they were all about 93 minutes long.

Of the ones I did see there was some disappointment. Man of Steel was not the Superman film I’d been waiting for. If there’s on superhero I don’t expect to see getting involved in this fad of smashing up New York/fictional city that is clearly New York it’s Kal-El. And there was dullness for much of the build up to that. Also featuring a bearded Superman/CK raised the issue of what scissors/razor could cut Kent’s hair.

I’m also pretty sure Star Trek: Into Darkness wasn’t very good. But I could do with another watch of it as I was pretty tired when I watched it.

Disappointingly Die Hard 5 was so poor that I know a few people who love Die Hard but couldn’t stretch to that. It was a waste of the £15 that I paid for the blu-ray. A legacy is being destroyed with each lear jet Bruce Willis uses as a skateboard. Happily there were two decent Die Hard films released this year. It was a slight frustration that neither were actually Die Hard films and they were pretty much the same film. Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down were two takes on the American White House being taken over by terrorists. And both were pretty good. It shows what can be done when people who love Die Hard films are allowed to make a film – rather than Bruce Willis’ ego.

More disappointment: The World’s End. Even having re-watched it – and having enjoyed it 200% more the second time – I still think it was a massive disappointment. This appears to have me opposing the consensus of opinion on the film. But I just didn’t think it was very funny or original. Sorry. (Admittedly “what the fuck does wtf mean?” is a great gag.)

When I saw Now You See Me I saw that it was quite poor. It had almost pulled off the trick: diverting my attention with slick photography and a very strong cast, but it wasn’t a good film.

Flight was one of those films that you kind of knew wasn’t going to maintain its ridiculous opening salvo a bit like when a runner goes off to quick in a long distance race and dies. The first 20 minutes (or so) finishing with the crash landing are quite amazing. The rest of it was a bit shit. It maintained interest because of the magnetism Denzil Washington brings to most things he pretends to be other people in.

But what was good? Iron Man 3 jettisoned the received wisdom that each sequel needs to include more grand and greater number of villains. Also jettisoned – the shitness of the third film in such franchises. RDJ is clearly a big part of this, but he was in IM2 and that stank up a little bit for yours truly. I think a lot of the credit has to go to handing over the reins to Shane Black. A genuinely funny superhero film.

Of course you will be hunted and flogged if you say you didn’t love Gravity. Fortunately I did really like it so I’m OK. And if anyone sees me saying I didn’t love it just so I get flogged then they’re seeing things. It shows how important special effects have become: because it was just a quite good story but looked amazing. No-one would have watched the quite good story that looked OK.

I recently realised that I had enjoyed Only God Forgives some months ago. There is little doubt that it is overly concerned with imagery and its own iconography. But since was being self-obsessed a bad thing? Sorry, allow me to put that slightly differently: since when Ryan Gosling being the star of a self-obsessed film a bad thing? Speaking of Gozzer he was in another couple of OK-but-not-amazing films in The Place Beyond The Pines and Gangster Squad (which I technically haven’t seen on the date of this blog but I feel I will say more about it in a blog in a few days – it’s one of those occasions where I get very behind and end up writing blogs not in the order in which they happen).

Django Unchained was out around the beginning of the year and has remained strong in my affections. Apart from the bit where the slaves wrestled to death. I think some people put this with the lesser Tarantinos but I don’t get that. My lesser Tarantinos are the Kill Bills and Death Proof, lesser in that way that I still like them but they just aren’t up there with all the other films he’s done.

All of A Field in England had the feel of when you wake up still a bit drunk but the hangover is started. If ever a film has encapsulated that feeling when you’ve decided to go out drinking after a while of not drinking then this was it. I liked it.

Undeniably my best film of the year (including only films I’ve seen) was Alpha Papa. It is fair to say I am biased by the fact that Alan Partridge is the greatest character ever created. It was a pretty decent year for Coogan, The Look of Love might have been underappreciated but Philomena seems to have more than made up for that and there is talk of Oscar in the air for Mr Coogan, and I don’t mean a remake of the Stallone gangster non-comedy (I mean an Academy award).

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