February has now been and gone. Weonce again have had a lucky month with some good wide releases, while for America, things like Dallas Buyers’ club and Her have already been and gone. Over the past month I discovered 24, a really good tv series I recommend if you like action films. Overall, as I have watched many new films and rewatched old favorites, it has been a very mixed bag. In the last fortnight, including half term, I’ve watched 6 awesome movies and 6 that flopped. So, with my best list first (let’s face it, it’s more fun to rant) here are 5 movies I recommend and 5 where I recommend you stay away from. Honorable mention: The Cameraman by Buster Keaton. Slightly slow to start, once it does it’s laugh a minute. dishonorable mention: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Highly overrated and it’s so confusing it loses its messages despite good acting. No idea why it’scurrently 82 on IMDb top 250.
5 that were awesome!
5. Prisoners 10/10 this breathtakingly powerful thriller is about the kidnapping of 2 young girls and their fathers trying to find them. Haunting, gripping and bleak, it’s a disturbing film and quite a frightening one, but it’s worth the effort. Brilliant acting from all, Hugh Jackman in particular, and stunning cinematography from Roger Deakins. It’s truly unsettling and my only criticism is that it’s a bit too long. Check this out if you want to be on the edge of your seat for 2 and a half hours. Trust me, you will be.
4. The Lego Movie 10/10 entertaining from the word go, this follows an ordinary Lego construction worker go on a big adventure defeating the evil Lego president. While 2013 didn’t seem to produce any outstanding animated films apart from the acclaimed frozen, this is outstanding cinema. Beautifully animated, utterly hilarious, wonderfully cast, smartly written, surprisingly thoughtful and endlessly entertaining. I was never a Lego fan, but everyone can enjoy this. Everyone.
3. Dr Strangelove 10/10 another masterpiece from Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is now one of my favorite directors, and he fills his films with stunning cinematography, depth and awesome visuals. This is a great satire on the cold war, and as you can expect from Kubrick, it’s excellently crafted, meticulously planned and filmed, written and acted to perfection. It’s also very funny. Contains the best use of a Coke Cola machine in cinematic history.
2. Her 10/10 a man falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system. Yes I know but don’t let that put you off. This is a strange and wonderful film, finely directed, stunningly written and excellently acted. Spike Jonze has crafted a genuinely touching film full of soul, hilarious moments and heart. It provides a lot of interesting commentary on relationships and technology. My personal favorite of the 2013 best picture nominees.
The best is
1. No Country For Old Men 10/10 a man steals some money from a drug deal gone wrong and is chased by a terrifying hitman who wants the money back. This is brilliantly shot, ferociously tense and fantastically acted. Javier Bardem is unbelievable as the terrifying hitman who chases Josh Brolin (also on fine form). The ending is a little frustrating but I didn’t mind. This is brilliant, tense and also human filmmaking totally deserving of best picture. Everyone involved should be proud.
Now for the 5 where those who were involved shouldn’t be proud
5. White House Down 4/10 Roland Emmerich blows up the white house again. Boring! That’s all that happens. Channing Tatum tries to save Jamie Foxx’s president. This is the second die hard in the white house film of the year, the other being the you’ve probably already forgotten it Olympus Has Fallen. OHF was unoriginal, somewhat unpleasant and thinly written, but it benefitted from a lot of tension and some good acting. I would have appreciated some tension here but there was none. It’s a silly OTT action film with a good Jamie Foxx performance (Tatum and Maggie Gyllenhall are both boring) and a pleasingly witty screenplay (“Can you not hit men in the head with a rocket launcher while I’m trying to drive?!”) but it’s undone by it’s overly brainless tone, bad editing and blaring CGI overkill.
4. Bait 3/10 yes this is a B movie but seriously stop making films like this please! Stop trying to copy the amazing Jaws when you’re not going to. A tsunami hits Australia and floods a supermarket, also letting a shark in. Think deep blue sea meets the mist. The bad writing and acting are to be expected for a B movie. I would have appreciated more tension and less of the awful CGI, despite some occasionally decent cinematography. Throw this one to the sharks.
3. Pearl Harbour 3/10 another stinker from Michael Bay, this about a love triangle between 3 sentient blocks of wood around the pearl harbour attack. It delivers on the pyrotechnics and features a good soundtrack from an inexplicably committed Hans Zimmer but it’s just a tedious love story with a script so painfully awful it makes the writing in twilight look OK. Bay’s directionis dull, style over substance and explosion filled as can be expected, with Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett delivering groan inducingly bad performances. Worst of all, it’s 3 hours long!
2. The Last Airbender `1/10 I haven’t seen the TV show, but I’m sure it deserved a better adaptation than this awful mix of terrible acting, laughable writing, bland plotting, emotional detachment, confusion, boring action, terrible direction, whining, narration, CGI and air karate. Now I understand why so many don’t like child actors. This is from the same guy who wrote and directed sixth sense and unbreakable. I can’t believe it. Hey M Night Shyamalan! You’re telling a story! Try to emotionally engage your audience with it!
And the very worst is…
1. Movie 43 0/10 in this comedy turkey, 3 kids search the internet for the most banned film in the world and find loads of short films featuring famous actors. This movie has a stunning cast (Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslett, Halle Berry, Naomi Watts etc.) and wastes them in below the bottom of the barrel fare so abysmal it is painful to watch. This collection of short films is repugnant, unfunny, vile, poorly written directed acted, loathsome and abominable. It’s just one tasteless unfunny joke after another. Is this meant to be funny? The film is excruciatingly unfunny, atrociously written, appallingly directed and even the talented cast all give awful performances. A disgrace to cinema and a cinematic abomination. The worst movie I’ve ever seen.
It’s been an interesting month.