It has been another bad month for film viewing. As June comes to a close, here are the 10 films I’ve watched and ranked. I’m doing best to worst because there are more bad movies and it’s more fun to rant. Hopefully the summer months will be better months for film viewing. I have no more to say so let’s get started. Enjoy!
The winner of June 2014 is….
1. Stand By Me: 10/10 in this deservedly loved Stephen King adaptation, 4 boys go on a journey to find a dead body and one of them as an adult tells the story. It’s a coming of age story overall with plenty of genuinely funny moments, great direction from Rob Reiner, great performances and genuine poignancy. It’s a stunningly well written film because it never patronizes or veers into sentimental territory, and all the characters feel real and universal. None of the dramatic moments feel forced, and the film blends comedy, adventure and emotion even better than Toy Story 3. This is essential and powerful viewing. It will show you child actors don’t deserve the hate and will leave you with a warm glow.
2. M: 10/10 in this masterpiece of world cinema, both the criminals and police force of Berlin hunt a serial killer. It may sound ordinary but be honest: Has any other murder mystery been so deep and utterly chilling? With this film, M is for masterpiece and it’s even better than Metropolis, another great Fritz Lang movie. It gets under your skin and stays there with its cold, emotionless approach to the story and the haunting imagery. Throughout the film there’s a sense of unease and fear, and the film plays with shadows beautifully. It’s a deeply disturbing movie, and a truly haunting experience. Try to find such great filmmaking in an American detective film and fail miserably.
3. Edge Of Tomorrow: 8/10 this is one of those films which looked terrible but then surprised everyone. It has Tom Cruise (Not a fan) as a cowardly soldier who repeats the same battle over and over again and tries to defeat an alien army alongside an excellent Emily Blunt. What’s impressive is that despite being about a time loop it never feels repetitive and is endlessly enjoyable, genuinely funny, well written and smartly filmed. It’s tense and fun in equal measures, and thankfully has avoided being one of the year’s biggest box office bombs like predicted. Although Tom Cruise was a walking sleeping potion is the Mission Impossible films, here he’s actually good, and although the film is overlong it’s a complete blast from start to finish and makes you want to punch the air. Take that, Amazing Spider-Man 2!
4. Pulp Fiction: 6/10 Quentin Tarrantino’s second movie, this is a series of loosely connected stories told with a non linear narrative and featuring various criminal characters who have random, bizarre and darkly comical escapades. Reservoir Dogs was an incredible film. Here, because of its success, Tarrantino got arrogant and creates a stylish but bloated mess, which could have been an hour and 40 minutes but is 2 and a half hours. Why? The film is directed stylishly, it has electric dialogue and many fine performances. It has many good qualities but it’s far too long and for every electric, darkly hilarious and thrilling scene there’s a pointless, uninvolving one. People complain this lost best picture in 1994. Newsflash: Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption and 4 Weddings And A Funeral are all better. People whine about style over substance, yet they vote this the 5th greatest movie of all time when it’s exactly that?
5. The Bourne Ultimatum: 6/10 Jason Bourne completes the search for the truth of his past in the final instalment of the Bourne Trilogy. I’m fed up of hearing about these films and seeing their influence in other action movies. What’s so fun about these? It has a more interesting plot than many action movies, while Paul Greengrass continues to prove he is the main director who can take the risky shaky cam format and turn it into art. It has many good bits, but the action sequences lack anything memorable. What really lets this down is Matt Damon, whose character is nothing more than a zombie with muscles. Fine, so it’s an OK movie. A note to the makers of James Bond: Stop imitating Bourne! It is often thrilling and certainly well made, but the main character who has less facial expression than Godzilla in the recent film and some boring scenes make this an uneven, drained action movie.
6. The Tree Of Life: 4/10 just no. Terrence Malick: I cannot fault your ambition but surely you don’t expect us to be emotionally engaged with this? Not everyone is a deep, pretentious, philosophical know it all! This 2001 A Space Odyssey imitator (Minus the brilliance) can be broken down into 4 sections as there’s no plot. One is a 1950s family first twirling through grass then yelling at each other. The second is some beautiful but boring montage of life’s creation (Dinosaurs! Sharks! Micro-organisms! What?!). The third is Sean Penn walking through skyscrapers thinking about life. The fourth is…something? This has some of the best cinematography ever committed to film, but I can get sunning imagery on Google Images! It is admirably ambitious and occasionally moving, with some good acting but it’s too confusing, dull and pretentious to satisfy all but the most patient viewers. I am fairly patient, but even I couldn’t connect with this.
7. The Godfather Part III: 4/10 why? The saga felt complete with the masterful Part 2, so this feels like an afterthought. It never stands on its own and desperately tries to connect to the other 2 and feels constantly derivative. It’s not terrible, as Al Pacino and various other actors get another chance to show off their acting chops (Although Sofia Coppola is terrible as Mary Corleone) and Francis Ford Coppola remains a good director but despite some good set pieces it’s too confusing. It is a pointless story about Michael Corleone trying to retire and even though it has its moments, this just drags. Derivative, overly complicated and deeply boring, this is an monumentally unsatisfying conclusion and is a giant leap down from the first 2.
8. Avatar: 4/10 I have seen this before so this was a second viewing to give the film another chance. Avatar has become cool to hate as many seem to have turned against it on a second viewing. I didn’t even like it on my first. My opinion did not change on the second viewing. The film is stunning. The visuals are awe inspiring and it is truly a work of art. And like all modern art, it’s soulless, empty and totally hollow. Squandering various genuinely thought provoking ideas in favour of showing off the effects, this features a lead actor with the charisma and emotion of a plank, a totally bloated running time, a hollow story and a script with little to no personality. While this has its moments, it’s hardly even a movie. It’s James Cameron showing off how good he is at ICT.
9. The Village: 4/10 poor M Night Shyamalan! This follows a 19th century village being attacked by monsters and a villager venturing out to get medical supplies for her love interest. Before he completely plummeted, you could still see Shyamalan’s potential. This has excellent cinematography, and there are multiple haunting and suspenseful moments. However, this is the Sunshine of the horror genre: A film with loads of potential ruined by some awful twist. Unlike Sunshine, which had a great start, this kicks off with an awful screenplay made worse by all of the talented actors doing their best Kristen Stewart impersonation. The twist not only makes no sense but erases what little suspense there was before. With some interesting bits it’s not as offensively bad as The Last Airbender but then again, what is?
And the worst is…
10. Paranormal Activity 4: 2/10 why are these still getting made? Kicked off by the criminally overrated first one, this franchise is no more than a lazy way to make a profit. OK, so the third one had scary moments but I’m a wimp so that isn’t saying anything! This follows another family getting haunted by a demon. Same old stuff. To sum up quickly, the demon from the other films goes to a new neighbourhood. Terror doesn’t ensue. It really couldn’t be any less scary as knives fly around, creepy kids wander about, toys go beep beep, people fly around (Is that meant to be scary or something?), doors slam and people appear out of nowhere. Not scary at all. There’s no atmosphere or tension, simply loads of tired, lazy shocks, equalling a boring, groan inducing scareless fest which is about as menacing as a baby kitten. Still, this is the best out of all the losers of this year with likable characters and a couple of scares so that’s.. something I guess.
Don’t bother with some of these. They’re not worth it. Check out numbers 1-3 though.