The Half Dozen
Half way through the year, and it’s been a mixed year so far. A decent amount of five star films, but the quality layer below that has been slightly thinner than in previous years, so the second half of the year has a fair amount to make up for. But as well as the midpoint of the year, July marks another milestone: it’s the fiftieth Half Dozen that I’ve written for the blog.
Fifty collections of trailers, from the monthly specials to Superbowl reviews, annual lists of all the trailers I’ve seen at the Cambridge Film Festival and FrightFest and even a Tony Scott obituary special. From the highs of annual award winners including The Social Network, Submarine and The Imposter to the lows of fantastically cheesy trailers such as Killer Elite and Elephant White, it’s now become a monthly ritual to watch every trailer for films coming out to try to find the cream of the crop, and even if no-one reads this, then it’s helped me to uncover a few cinematic gems I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.
But if you are reading this, then you’ll be expecting some trailers, and to mark the 50th anniversary I’ve not only trawled through the whole of July, but picked out the most enticing trailers for each month for the rest of the year.
Clearly inspired by The Artist, because no other movie has ever been made in black and white or without sound, Blancanieves translates as Snow White. Yep, it’s a Spanish Snow White with bullfighting, and if that’s not enough of a hook for you, you may wish to check your pulse to see if you’re still alive.
Long time readers of the blog will know that I like my blockbusters big, dumb and full of fun; I’m a fan of Independence Day and not ashamed to admit it. I can remember a friend telling me he didn’t get on with that particular film after the first act and the trailers had a more serious vibe and then it laid on the cheese, but in my view you can’t really do something of this scale without a bit of Stilton or Wensleydale. Early reports suggest that might not be the case, which will be a cheesy shame.
We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks
The second documentary of the year from master documentarian Alex Gibney, this follow up to Mea Maxima Culpa will hopefully be distinguished in one key respect – hopefully I’ll actually manage to catch this one.
The World’s End
Two trailers were released for this, the upcoming closer to the informal Three Colours Cornetto trilogy. One has a casual voiceover from Simon Pegg, but this international trailer has the full-on voiceover man, and you’ve never heard someone make the words “pub crawl” sound quite so incongruous. (Although, looking for ideas of what to do for my 40th next year, maybe finding four mates to do a 12 pub crawl? Perhaps a 12 cinema crawl is more my speed.)
If you, like me, have a high tolerance for kooky and mumblecore, then you’ll very much be looking forward to the latest from Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. If those names strike fear into your heart, you’ll be turning this trailer off after around 10 seconds.
I bear the scars of battle. I’ve seen X-Men: The Last Stand. I’ve seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I wasn’t looking forward to this one at all. Yet somehow this trailer has, just about, revitalised my interested, and I will be very cautiously optimistic come the end of the month. Also, just in case you weren’t convinced, here’s Hugh Jackman to really sell it to you. If the star of his own movie thinks it’ll be good, who am I to argue?
Plenty of potential for August with the Alan Partridge movie, Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in Neill Blomkamp’s latest Elysium, a Morgan Spurlock doc on One Direction and a David Bowie exhibition on film. But the one which has me most in anticipation is the critical Marmite that is Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest. Luke Evans dropped out to be in The Hobbit, giving us another dose of brooding Gosling. Tasty.
Only God Forgives
The list for September was looking thin, to say the least. Richard Curtis and Roland Emmerich unleash their latest, and Ron Howard has Formula 1 biopic Rush, but for me the Cambridge Film Festival always dominates September, and the opening film was announced this week. The star of The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory will also be in attendance, all being well. (I once saw him at the local Cineworld watching Atonement, so this isn’t quite a big a deal as it could have been.)
As well as more Oscar bait in the shape of Tom Hanks starrer Captain Phillips, October has a veritable feast of fantasy and sci-fi, with the adaptation of Ender’s Game, the sequel to Thor and this stunning looking space drama from Alfonso Cuaron, which many (myself included) will be hoping can live up to Children Of Men.
The eleventh month of the year is due to see the release of Cannes winner Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Ridley Scott attempting to redefine all star cast with Cormac McCarthy scripted The Counselor and the latest instalment of the Hunger Games, but my pick is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, proving that if anything’s good enough for Hugh Jackman, it’s good enough for him.
Hobbitses? Jack Ryan? Pointless Oldboy remake? Keep them. There’s only one film in December I’m truly looking forward to, and it’s as smooth as a thirty year old scotch and as dumb as a cat in clown outfit. Say whaat?
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Apparently it’s now June; I’ve been so busy that the only way I really keep track of the seasons, thanks to the monotonous dampness of what now passes for a British summer, is to the more constant and reliable shifts in what’s screening at cinemas. So far, the summer season has been somewhat of a mixed bag, from the soaring heights of Iron Man 3 to the confused science-abusing of Star Trek Into Darkness. The most conspicuous aspect of my own personal film watching is that Iron Man 3 was the last time I gave a film 9/10 or more, and that was in April.
You know me, I like my stats, so I had a look at how the year’s panning out so far. In theory, I’m seeing decent films at about the same rate as any other year I’ve kept tabs on, with about one film in six getting one of the top two marks. This is of course helped by the fact I don’t see everything in the cinemas, but despite missing the odd one or two art house films earlier in the year, I felt the year was panning out reasonably well. But then a closer look at the numbers told a slightly different story.
Between the start of September and the end of January I saw 111 films in the cinema, of which 26 gained a high four star or five star rating from me. From the start of February onwards, I’ve seen 42, of which only four have been worthy of the top marks, and one of those was James Cameron’s Aliens. So in the hope that June is the month that keeps the year on track, even if it doesn’t need to turn it around, these are my six grand hopes for the month, the six films left this month with the highest tracking on Rotten Tomatoes that I might actually get to see in a cinema (sorry, Shun Li And The Poet). I’ve added a few review quotes for each one, to try to understand whether the review aggregator is aggregating praise or general indifference in the guise of positivity. Fingers crossed for June, anyway.
Much Ado About Nothing – current Tomatometer 82%
“I can’t recommend it highly enough.” – Chris Tookey, Daily Mail
“…it’s just a bunch of great actors getting all dressed up and putting on a show…” – Catherine Monk, Canada.com
“This is merely M’eh Ado.” – Tara Brady, Irish Times
Before Midnight – current Tomatometer 97%
“One of the best films of 2013…” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“…We are not likely to get a more thoughtful or thought-provoking film than Before Midnight.” – Kenneth R. Morefield, Christianity Today
“A Bracing Look at the Realities if Lovve (sic)” – Charles Koplinski, Illinois Times
Like Someone In Love – current Tomatometer 83%
“From the incredible opening shot onwards, it’s clear Kiarostami’s cinematic language translates perfectly in any setting.” – Phillip Concannon, The Skinny
“Maybe it all serves a purpose, but a movie about empty people doesn’t necessarily have to feel empty itself.” – Tom Long, Detroit News
“Is this the stuff of gripping drama? Not at all. But like nearly all of Kiarostami’s films, it’s the stuff of good conversation.” – Noel Murray, AV Club
This Is The End – current Tomatometer 85%
“This Is the End is the bust-out, badass comedy of the summer. And then some.” – Pete Travers, Rolling Stone
“…it’s stretched out and there frankly aren’t enough jokes in it.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstacy
“This is fundamentally a narcissistic venture, undone by the fact that none of these guys are compelling enough to sustain an entire movie without a story.” – Robert Levin, amNewYork
Stories We Tell – current Tomatometer 96%
“This is a warm, brave and thought-provoking piece of autobiography.” – Hannah McGill, The List
“What a great movie.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
“Suspenseful, unpredictable, mature, tender and funny. A triumph.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
The Act Of Killing – current Tomatometer 100%
“Almost every frame is astonishing.” – Catherine Shoard, Guardian
“Documentary cinema has a new apex.” – Blake Howard, 2UE That Movie Show
“One of this decade’s most important and harrowing documentaries…” – Jason Gorber, Twitch
May has arrived, and with it warm enough weather for me to be regularly feeling guilty that I’m not doing any gardening and instead spending half my spare time in the cinema. I did spend an afternoon this weekend trimming back a hedge in my garden that hasn’t been touched since I moved in six years ago; hopefully the series of tiny scars on my arms from wrestling overgrown branches into the back of the car to take for recycling have bought me enough time to have a day in the cinema on Bank Holiday Monday, and at least a week of not having to think about doing the same with the hedge on the other side (now leering ominously across the garden as if it’s auditioning for the next Evil Dead remake).
Anyway, before this turns into Gardener’s Question Time, suppose we’d better talk about films. I’ve been keeping detailed records of what I watch since 2008, which enables me to do all manner of pointless analysis on my own cinema habits. For example, the directors who I’ve seen most in the cinema in that time are Steven Soderbergh and Tim Burton (5 films each), followed by Haneke, Hitchcock and the Coen Brothers (4 each). Think that’s pointless? Try this. Here’s a comparison of the average scores I’ve given films in the first four months of each year, compared to their average scores from IMDb users.
What this tells me is I’ve seen more films than I realised this year (only one behind last year, although I do think I’ll struggle to match the 200 I saw in total in 2012), but oddly, while the films have had the best reception with Joe Public of any group I’ve seen in January to April, my enjoyment of them has been significantly less.
Normally May is a big month for blockbusters, and consequently my scores tend to skew lower than popular opinion on the bigger films. With the likes of Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hangover Part III hitting cinemas, both ends of the spectrum could be covered. The material so far for STID hasn’t excited me that much, slightly worrying as I’m a hard core Trekkie; I will not be subjecting myself to another Hangover movie after the last one unless it’s getting 90%+ on Rotten Tomatoes. Let’s hope some of these other May offerings can up the average for the year instead.
Gimme The Loot
Another exciting looking début from a new film maker, and one subject to the curse of London-only release thanks to too many local screens being occupied by summer frippery. Good job I’m working in Norwich and Newcastle this week, then. (D’oh!)
Mike Nichols’ previous film, Take Shelter, was one of my highlights of 2011 and Matthew McConaughey had a great 2012 with the likes of Killer Joe and Magic Mike. Can’t wait to see what the two of them can do together.
I’m easily suggestible: there’s a little part of me that does become excited when a caption comes up telling me that this is from the makers of “Something Else That’s Supposed To Be Good”, even when I haven’t seen that thing. So, looks good.
Ever wondered what the cast of the Fast & Furious films do between films? The Rock has a steady career in films you’ve actually heard of, but apparently the best Paul Walker can get is other films with cars in. This looks like it will play in precisely one cinema in London from next week. (Also, a missed marketing opportunity: surely the caption after “THE FASTER HE GOES” should read “THE MORE FURIOUS HE GETS”?)
Fast & Furious 6
Or, if you prefer, the real thing. Saw six minutes of this (the tank chase scene) at a Cineworld preview in front of Iron Man 3; both ludicrous and exciting, this could be the guilty pleasure of the summer.
Something In The Air
And one final piece of exciting news (exciting for me, anyway): after becoming a regular guest on Cambridge 105’s film show Bums On Seats since last September (see top of page for links to my appearances), all being well I’ll be taking my first turn in the host’s chair at the end of the month. With both Fast 6 and this in contention for the show, should be a chance to test both my high and low brows. Have a good month, I’m off to get started on my script…
Not sure if I’ve talked about this before, so apologies if I have, but the genesis of this blog came out of not just a love of film, but a very specific set of circumstances. In 2010 I went to a conference for work, where one of the speakers gave a talk on the benefits of setting yourself long term goals. Returning home inspired, I set myself a group of five goals to try to shape the next five years of my life. I had a view of achieving them somewhere between “when I’m 40” and within that five years. When I’m 40 is next February, and five years will be April 2015, so some of these have longer to run than others. The goals I set myself were as follows:
- Do something with my professional body. My actual body is, as I claimed on Bums On Seats when discussing This Is 40, like a bag of badgers, all disturbing bulges and discomfiting noises. Thankfully what I’m referring to is the organisation that provides recognition for and training to people like myself rather than my own physique; in real life I’m a call centre planning manager, thankfully more exciting than it sounds. So far: diddly squat progress on this one, although they are now offering postgraduate courses which still have me tempted if my employer would ever be willing to pay for one.
- Run at least a half marathon, possibly more. In an effort to address my badger body I have also attempted to overcome my lifelong inability to succeed at any form of competitive sport or exercise and take up running. (You are reading the blog of a man who joined a gym for his wedding and put on fourteen pounds.) I have managed to run as far as 10k on a regular basis (and 9k without stopping), but am currently under treatment by a physio for a nasty heel injury which has kept me off the road for six months and is now leaving me increasingly frustrated.
- Start a movie blog. Well, duh. Three years to the month from that conference and I’m still going strong. In that time I’ve watched over 500 films at the cinema, expanded my horizons, visited festivals and special screenings, helped with and hosted Q & As and now regularly place my Bum on a Seat on local radio. More exciting developments to come this year, hopefully.
- Get more going with music at church. I am an Anglican Christian (which I won’t go on about here other than to say that other religions, and indeed not believing in an omniscient sky wizard and his magical son, are available if you’re not so inclined), but as part of that I conduct in and sing with choirs. Over the past two years I’ve begun composing my own music and completed a course in music ministry. Another tick.
- Get the bathroom re-done. Sadly the bathroom suite we inherited when we moved into our current house is still with us, due to a complicated layout which will require about fifteen years’ cinema ticket budget to put right. If anyone has several grand burning a hole in their pocket, my e-mail address is on the home page.
The one constant on the blog over the last three years has been the trailer page. Each month, and in occasional specials, I’ve collected the most interesting looking trailers around, in an effort to support the evangelism activity that is my reason for being here. So here’s this month’s run-down of the good, the bad and the decidedly ugly, as per my selectively applied rule of excluding those films I’ve already seen (sorry, Spring Breakers, The Place Beyond The Pines and The Gatekeepers).
Scary Movie 5
Here’s bad to kick us off. I’ve included the shortest trailer I can find, and the reason for including it is simple: I will go to watch anything with Mrs Evangelist that she wants. Anything. Three Alvin And The Chipmunks, two St. Trinians and Beverly Hills Chihuahua often get quoted as examples of this, but I’ve also realised thanks to the light of my life I’ve also seen all four Scary Movies at the cinema. The third one’s not utterly dreadful but the rest are, and now Mrs E is threatening to take me to this one. She’s at work this week, so I’m praying it’s out of cinemas before next weekend.
I would love to have the finances to be able to spend huge amounts of time at the London Film Festival, but sadly only managed a three film taster last year. I still have the Cambridge festival to keep me entertained, but Simon Killer was one of many films that the privileged who live in London and have money would have been able to see six months before me. Maybe this year…
I’ve always envied people with physical and athletic gifts, but this is the kind of documentary that reassured me the life of a couch potato is at least less stressful.
The Evil Dead
I said good, bad and ugly and this might a bit of all three. (This is the red band trailer, so be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart.) I’m re-watching the original trilogy this week in an effort to be able to successfully compare and contrast, but I can’t help thinking this is yet another unnecessary rehash of a horror standard, even if Sam Raimi himself has been involved.
A couple of years ago, a movie starring Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey would have been about as appealing as licking stale popcorn off the floor of the cinema, even if it was directed by Richard Linklater, but the former’s ability to occasionally find the right roles and the latter’s career rehabilitation make this a much more enticing prospect.
Iron Man 3
And April marks the true start of blockbuster season. Oblivion might have kicked us off this weekend, but the Marvel movies are where the big money’s at, and I couldn’t be more excited for a threequel than one involving the singular talents of Mr Shane Black. Hopefully this will also mark my first proper IMAX visit of the year.
Ever the seasons shift, and spring is almost upon us. But the movie seasons shift even further; already, summer blockbusters have advanced to the middle of April, Tom Cruise’s expensive looking Oblivion (which sounds like a metaphor for his career now I read it back) arriving two weeks before Robert Downey Jr. gets out the red and gold suit again and gets fanboys around the world just a little excited. But come next year, awards season may not have concluded by the end of February, with every weekend taken up with Superbowls and Winter Olympics that there’s talk of the Oscars shifting later into March, the normal lull that occurs around this time of year may by 2014 be swallowed up completely between frippery and giant explosions.
So what will happen to March next year? Sure, it’ll still be on the calendar, and short of some sudden recalculation by boffins it’ll still be made up of 31 days, but the films that find respite from the need to garner awards or giant box office will have nowhere else left to go. You might be wondering what kind of film that is, but given that less than two dozen films normally sweep the fields at awards time – even in a well spread year like 2013’s various shindigs – and once the blockbusters start you’ll barely be able to find more than two or three different films showing at your local sixteen screen multiplex, so these periods of breathing space are vital for something more nourishing but less bombastic to find screening time.
As to what kind of films find their screen time in this season, it seems to be the case this year that it’s the kind of film that normally finds a home at the opposite end of the year in the normal follow-on from blockbuster season: festival season. This first became apparent when I was performing my normal trawl through the listings at the likes of Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Launching Films to see what’s due out this month, and I realised I’d seen a decent number of films already that were due out in March. Long time readers will know that there is only one rule of The Half Dozen – that I never include trailers for films I’ve already seen – so it seemed a sensible time to read this rule the last rites.
Yes, here are six trailers for films, all of which I’ve already seen. (I’m such a rebel.)
Okay, you got me, to start proceedings off I was one short, so this the first film I’ve seen this month. Leaping straight into my top five of the year is the first English language film from Park Chan-wook, one of Korea’s foremost directors and best known internationally for his Oldboy and various films with the word Vengeance in the title. Not much vengeance on the go here, but there is some subtle horror, mood aplenty and more literary allusions than you can shake a stick at, and it all hangs together beautifully.
I will confess, despite this appearing on all of the aforementioned lists I can’t actually find a single cinema playing this, so I hope you have more luck as this is well worth seeking out; I caught it in the Late Night Frights at last year’s Cambridge Film Festival. Spanish actor Luis Tosar is one of those familar faces that you just can’t quite place, so he’s perfect casting for this creepy thriller from director Jaume Balaguero ([REC], [REC] 2, disappointingly not yet [STOP] or [FF]) where Tosar’s concierge tries to understand the secrets of his apartment building tenants, while keeping a fair few of his own.
Robot & Frank
Now this film will have a particular place in my heart for years to come, for it’s the first film I ever saw at the London Film Festival and consequently the first time I ever got to walk along an actual red carpet, along with the rest of the audience. I always get a buzz from being in Leicester Square, cinematic Mecca for mainstream obsessives like myself and nexus of the LFF, and at the Odeon West End I was utterly besotted with this unlikely relationship tale of a man and a giant walking, talking iPhone and their even more unlikely adventures. I decided to shift it to this year’s run-down, where if it doesn’t make my top 10 of the year by year end it will have been an extremely good year for film.
Saw this one at the end of a very long day at FrightFest 2012 at the Empire Leicester Square last August. What turned out to be a very mixed day – and probably the weakest of the festival in hindsight – started with me heading into London for 10 a.m. to catch a documentary on Eurocrime and finished six films and eleven hours later with this remake of a dirty Eighties movie, re-imagined as a first person slasher with Elijah Wood in the title role. Wood is creepily effective, the perspective is used ingeniously and it’s not afraid to go to some very dark places. As did I when I rolled out at 1:30 a.m. for the nightbus, getting back to my car at 3 a.m.
John Dies At The End
Another London Film Festival showing, this one at the almost brand spanking new Hackney Picturehouse. My previous memory of director Don Coscarelli’s work was watching Bubba Ho-Tep on a tiny monitor on the first class video screen (thanks to the upgrade Mrs Evangelist had blagged us) on the way back from my honeymoon, and I wasn’t overly impressed then; thankfully John Dies At The End is more of a rip-roaring, off the wall journey into insanity adapted from Jason Pargin’s novel, and while it’s not lived hugely long in my memory it was most entertaining in the moment. And does John die at the end? That would be telling.
Finding Nemo 3D
Finally one that we’ve probably all seen, and if you haven’t then stop right now, head to LoveFlix or NetFilm or one of those new-fangled jobbies and soak in one of the films I fear will come to be known as Pixar’s Golden Period, before the likes of Cars 2 and Brave descended and it wasn’t the case that every single film that Pixar produced is outstanding.
Hang on a minute – did I just tell y0u to go and rent a film that’s coming back to cinemas?! I must be losing my mind. What a clownfish.
It’s February again, following straight after January like it seems to every year, but I’m a closet anarchist so I still hope each year that someone will decide to mix all the months up, just to keep everyone on their toes. Sadly, February’s snuck in at the same place it does every year, so the inevitability of me having to state I’m another whole year older. This year I’m starting the final year in my thirties, and wondering what I have left to achieve before I hit the big four-oh. (Other than watching This Is 40 and scaring myself half to death, I’m sure.)
Last year I got to spend two hours of my birthday in the cinema, watching The Muppets, which turned out to be my favourite Muppet film of them all. This year, there’s plenty of possibilities of something equally as good, although I may not get to watch it on my actual birthday. But either way, hopefully February has some treats and surprises in store.
If I had to take eight directors and their body of work to a desert island, I reckon that Robert Zemeckis’ live action work would be in with a shout. From cast-iron classics such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and my all time favourite Back To The Future to early hits such as Romancing The Stone and even lesser works like Death Becomes Her, Zemeckis was never less than interesting until he started messing around with mo-cap. His first real people film in twelve years has been too long coming, but hopefully he’s back in live action for a while.
I’ve had a Game Gear, a Mega Drive, a GameCube, two Playstations and my sister’s NES over the years, but I still do most, if not all, of my gaming these days on my trusty iPhone. So I’m hoping I’ll get a decent amount of the references, but also that I’ll get a decent amount of storytelling. Mrs Evangelist will be my control subject, as about the only non iPhone game she’s ever played extensively is Animal Crossing. Women, eh? (JOKING, before I get letters.)
Sometimes it’s the smaller elements that intrigue me about trailers. With I Wish, it’s the very deliberate subtitles that first caught my eye, but also the credits at the beginning. I’d like to think I’m expanding my knowledge of cinema, but having only started expanding my own knowledge in 2008, so far the works of Hirokazu Koreeda have passed me by. Yet another name to add to the LoveFilm list, I guess.
Side By Side
<shameless self promotion>
The digital evolution has placed a firm grip on cinema over the last decade, but what’s being lost in the process? Christopher Kenneally has made a career as a post-production manager, but this is his second documentary and features Keanu Reeves talking to just about everyone in Hollywood worth taking an opinion from. Side By Side is showing at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse this Friday at 18:30 and, along with Jim Ross, Toby Miller and Sarah McIntosh I’ll be helping to host a Q & A after the film. If you’re in the area, do come and ask us a testing question or two. More details here if you’re interested.
</shameless self promotion>
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God
2012 was a fantastic year for documentaries, so I’m hoping 2013 can come some way close to living up to it. Alex Gibney has a strong track record, including Taxi To The Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, so this is as good a place as any to start with that hope.
I’ve neither hope nor expectation that this will be any good; in fact, I’m hoping it’ll be a gigantic train wreck. I’m making a conscious effort to try to maintain a higher level of quality this year, but I’m happy to make an exception for this. However, this trailer doesn’t make this look any less mad than my expectations, with Korean Jim Sturgess and Jim Broadbent being plungered in the face. I just hope both the film and I can sustain ourselves for the two hour and fifty-two minute running time. Gulp.
Gather round, one and all. The spirit of the season is upon us, and cinemas will be filled with festive treats and reissues of The Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life and, if you’ve been really good this year, Die Hard. But as well as that, there’s a host of fresh Christmas goodies, all wrapped and waiting, plus at least one other seasonal treat getting a fresh airing.
So here for your seasonal entertainment are my selection of trailers for this month, each one accompanied by a Christmas ditty or piece of prose of some sort which I’ve
shamefully ripped off reworded slightly in honour of the film in question. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse This close to midnight, the Mogwai was waking But no food for him, no chance Bill be taking When down in the lounge there arose such a clatter He sprang from his bed to see what was the matter Away to the kitchen he flew like a flash To grab him a knife, some Gremlins to slash
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
O little town of Hobbiton How still we see thee lie Above thy deep and pipe-fuelled sleep A fire-breath’d dragon files Yet in the dark caves shineth The elven “sword” called Sting The hopes and fears of Gandalf’s peers Rest not yet on a ring
Oh, the weather outside is frightful But the photo’s so delightful And since we’ve no place to go Let it snow, it must snow, oh please snow! It’s showing large signs of thawing And the world is still ignoring Al Gore would have liked this show Let it snow, it must snow, oh please snow!
Life Of Pi
On the twelfth day of Christmas, all known Gods gave to me Twelve zoo crates moving Eleven Coldplay pop tunes Ten whales a leaping Nine ladies dancing Eight fish a catching Seven hours of swimming Six meercats playing Five shots of bling Four attempts at filming Three dimensions Two blokes just chatting And a tiger who wants me for tea
Christmas time, mistletoe and wine Children singing truly phat rhymes With logs on the fire, Anna K in the nip This gaggle of girls will try hard to be hip
At Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid At Christmas time, we banish light and we let in shade And in the world of bad guys, Werner Herzog’s just a joy Can Jack Reacher save the world, at Christmas time? But say a prayer, pray for the other ones At Christmas time, they’ve no chance when Tom’s having fun There’s a world outside your window And it’s a world of dreaded fear Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you
While Five Star the group might be consigned largely to history, I can’t help thinking of them every time a discussion of five stars comes up in the context of film, because I have that idiotic kind of brain. With the two largest circulation film magazines in this country both working on a one to five star scale (and at least one other working on “out of five” principles), the five star sliding scale has become something of an industry standard, as posters look to be able to crowd their commendations with reviews from members of the press with as many stars as possible.
I, somewhat more in line with online ratings schemes such as IMDb, rate my scores out of 10. In terms of alignment, I consider only 10/10 films to be worthy of the five star gold standard, and since I began keeping records in 2008, these have been the films to get the ultimate Evangelist recommendation:
2008: Waltz With Bashir, The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Wall•E and Hunger
2009: (500) Days Of Summer, Let The Right One In, Up, District 9, The White Ribbon and Synecdoche, New York
2010: Of Gods And Men, Inception, The Social Network, Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone and Mary And Max
2011: Confessions, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, True Grit, Take Shelter and The Guard
2012: Looper, Moonrise Kingdom, The Cabin In The Woods, Shame, The Artist, Robot & Frank and The Imposter
Given that I average over 100 films a year, you can see it’s a relatively small proportion that are getting that elusive ★★★★★ rating from me. This year especially, where the main box office tentpoles such as The Avengers¹, The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall have gotten so many five star plaudits elsewhere and only four from me, it feels an odd list that I’ve ended up with. There’s also some slight shame in saying that Shame is still my film of the year, for while I still believe it’s a story utterly of our times married to Steve McQueen’s exemplary film making, it’s not exactly the kind of movie I want to discuss with my mother when I call her on a Sunday afternoon.
What November has promised is the possibility of contenders to both the five star crown, and possibly even films which could nab that illustrious title of “Favourite Film Of The Year”, taken by No Country For Old Men, Up, Scott Pilgrim and Confessions over the last four years. Empire Magazine reviewed 32 films this month, and gave 21 of them four stars or more. I’ve picked out six that might just be able to take that fifth star.
I still take no pleasure in reminding people that There Will Be Blood still holds the record for the number of audience walk-outs of any film I’ve ever seen (23). There’s been much discussion on Twitter this week about reviewers giving it various ratings, where even the mainstream press have been divided from ★★★★★ all the way down to ★. I’ve been a fan of PTA ever since Boogie Nights – although telling my mother to watch Magnolia was, in hindsight – a mistake, but this one could definitely go either way.
Empire magazine have awarded this five stars, and say what you like about Kim Newman, he knows his horror. I’m seeing this as part of a Fright Fest all-nighter later today; earlier this year I saw six films in a full day session at their weekend event in London, the best of which was the again uncomfortably misogynistic Maniac with Elijah Wood. But there’s no reason why a horror movie shouldn’t be able to get on that list.
Speaking of lists, Total Film published a recent list featuring the 50 Best Movies Of Their Lifetime in their most recent issue. It’s a very populist list, but at the same time Michael Haneke has two entries in the top 20 (Hidden and The White Ribbon). I’ve developed a deep admiration for Haneke’s films and so consequently this is probably the most anticipated film of the month for me, even if I am expecting it to be absolutely devastating.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
I saw so many films at the Cambridge Film Festival this year that I’m still writing them all up. (Days 9 – 11 coming next week. Hopefully.) However, I still missed a couple of films I was really looking forward to, including Ugandan-set documentary Call Me Kuchu and this story of a man following his passion when his body lets him down. I also love that this trailer doesn’t feel constrained to the normal two minute and thirty second rule that seems to define most full length trailers these days.
Silver Linings Playbook
I heard about Oscar buzz for this one just before I saw the trailer, and having seen it my first thought was “Really?” However, it does carry the caption near the end confirming that Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly thinks it’s the best film he’s seen this year. Now, there might be someone out there that thinks Keith Lemon: The Movie is their ultimate highlight, but we’re all different and Playbook would certainly be an easier sell to my mother. In terms of mainstream entertainment this month, it looks like this and Argo have the best shot of achieving greatness. (Also, given that we have a three hour Romanian film called Aurora on the way, a great month for films beginning with A.)
Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger
Had you going.
I bought Kill List on Blu-ray last Christmas, with the intention of watching it to see if it made my top 40 of the year. It’s still in the cellophane. I probably need to stay in more. This year’s list of films I ought to watch on DVD but probably won’t have time include Monsieur Lahzar and The Turin Horse.
¹ A reminder that we don’t call it Avengers Assemble round here. I can tell the difference between Uma Thurman and Scarlett Johansson, thank you very much.
August. Really? I think my calendar may be broken. Where has the year gone? It’s been a challenging year keeping The Movie Evangelist going, mainly as my full time paid job has gotten in the way of pretty much everything else I do. I’ve managed to keep watching films at not far behind last year’s rate (at the end of July last year, I’d seen 87 new films in the cinema and I was up to 79 at the end of July this year), but, along with most of my other nice-to-have interests, the blog has taken a beating, as I got a grand total of two posts up last month, and one of them was the trailers.
Still, if I’m managing to watch films the least I can do is encourage you into trying to do the same, even if it’s proving a struggle to put fingers to keyboard at the moment. But I have a couple of highlights to look forward to: in the absence of an Empire magazine event this year such as Movie-Con or Big Screen, I’ve bought a day pass for FrightFest 2012, so I’m looking forward to a very varied day there at the end of this month, and by the time the month is up I’ll be buying my tickets for the Cambridge Film Festival, running between 13th and 23rd September. Given that I managed 19 films two years ago and 27 last year, the only question is how many, and the answer is probably quite a lot.
But before that, there’s plenty to look forward to, including a new entry in the Bourne series and Richard Ayoade’s attempt to follow Chris O’Dowd into American cinema. Oh, and this lot.
Sound Of My Voice
Despite showing at only a handful of cinemas and getting buried under the Olympics, Brit Marling’s second feature in as many years is a big step up from the overly simplistic Another Earth which landed late last year. On the surface, the ideas are similarly basic, but here the concepts are better handled and there’s more of a sense of ambiguity and tension. I was also sucked in by the video showing the first twelve minutes online, a concept which more films could take advantage of.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
A fantastic look at a fascinating character, I’m sure, but who knew cats could do that? Seriously, I’ll be trying to train our Pumpkin to do that for months. I may also have to install some suitable door handles, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it.
The Forgiveness Of Blood
For some reason I keep mixing this up with the Christian Bale film out around the same time. Which I think is called The Flowers Of War. Definitely The Something Of Doo-Dah, anyway. I’m easily confused, I think it’s my age.
A Pixar I’m really not sure about, starting what could be a run of Pixar films I’m not sure about. No matter how good your run of quality is, it can’t go on forever. Apparently nothing outside the first act appears in this trailer, a fact which I look forward to testing, but if true is really how all trailers should be constructed.
It’s been a year for cracking documentaries: in the last month alone I’ve seen some outstanding work in the field, including Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present and Searching For Sugarman. Early word on this one suggests that trend could be continuing.
Berberian Sound Studio
And finally, in honour of FrightFest, a film that pops up there, although sadly not the day I’m there. Thankfully the rest of us don’t have too long to wait. Don’t have nightmares, now.