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So this year’s Oscars are coming up – Now I don’t really care much for these awards but I cannot completely ignore them. I’m not exactly sure who’s got nominated for what but I did read that there are 10 films up for the Best Picture award. Again I don’t know all of them but there are a few like Hugo, The Artist, War Horse, The Tree of Life etc that I’ve heard have been nominated. It doesn’t make a difference to me which film wins, It won’t change the fact that Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is my favourite film from last year. In fact I’ve made a list of my top 10 (or so) favourite films from last year (2011 UK releases). Midnight in Paris is number one but the rest are not in any order. As the year goes by I might do like a little review on each film but for now…

1. Midnight in Paris – Dir. Woody Allen

Hugo – Dir. Martin Scorsese

A Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas – Dir. Todd Strauss-Schulson

Limitless – Dir. Neil Burger

50/50 – Dir. Jonathan Levine

Red State – Dir. Kevin Smith

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules – Dir. David Bowers

The Artist – Dir. Michel Hazanavicius

Drive – Dir. Niclas Winding Refn

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Dir. Rupert Wyatt

Horrible Bosses – Dir. Seth Gordon

Nearly made it: X Men First Class, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hangover Part II

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I’ m pretty excited this year, there are quite a few films that are coming out that I’ve been waiting for a long time and there are also the ‘small’ films that look like potential classics. I’m going to do this in order of release (in the UK), so I’ll go by months and talk a little bit about each film. Lets go.

First of all its the new Roman Polanski film ‘Carnage’ adapted from the stage play ‘God of Carnage’ by Yasmina Reza. Its a black comedy one room movie that plays in real time. I really like Polanski as a filmmaker (what he does in his personal life is none of my business) which is part of the reason why I’d like to go see this but it’s also because there are some really big actors starring in it – Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet and John C. Reilly (the premise looks pretty interesting also).  Carnage was released on the 3rd but I’ve been kinda busy with school work so I’ll probably go see this next week.

The Phantom Menace in 3D – I might or might not see this one, because I think it’s tied with Attack of the Clones as being the worst Star Wars film. However, I am curious to see how the Pod race and the underwater scenes will look in 3D, also it wouldn’t hurt to see the climactic lightsaber battle on the big screen. But it’s still  a maybe for me.

In March there are two films that I’m looking forward to – number one The Lorax the animated film based on the famous Dr Seuss book. Dr Seuss is one of my favourite authors and the last film Horton Hears a Who with Jim Carrey’s voice was not too bad and I hear Danny Devito is doing the voice of the Lorax and I can’t remember the last film I’ve seen him in so it should be fun, at least as a cute children’s film.

The second March release is ‘Being Flynn’ starring Robert De Niro and Paul Dano as father and son (I presume). I don’t know much about this film, I’ve seen the trailer and it looks promising – It might be a new classic and a comeback by De Niro or it might be just terrible. I think I’m gonna give it a shot.

In April there is the new American Pie film with the original cast and everything so that should be fun. I’ve been a big American Pie fan for quite some time – I think they’re brilliant, really funny and have great characters and its really cool that they’re doing a new with the actors from the first three films instead of doing another straight to dvd spin off or something. I think if done right it’s gonna be the big comedy of 2012. Fingers crossed.

The Avengers 3D – I’m not sure if this is coming out in April or May but anyway, Marvel have been hyping his film up for nearly five years. Although the trailers look cheesy this feels like it’s going to be epic .They introduced less known characters like Thor through their own film just to set up the big finale which is the Avengers. Marvel fanboys are going crazy and rightly so because its gonna be Ironman, Cap America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and The Incredible Hulk all in one film. How are they gonna pull this off I do not know but although I doubt this will stand up against the new Batman film I just hope this isn’t a total failure.

In May there is the much anticipated Moonrise Kingdom which is the new Wes Anderson movie (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums). His films usually develop a cult following and I myself am a big fan but there are more reasons why I’m especially looking forward to this and its because its going to have some of my favourite actors in it. Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray as usual (oh and Bruce Willis). I haven’t seen the trailers or read anything to do with this film because I don’t want it spoiled but believe me I’m quite excited.

In June its the new Ridley Scott movie Prometheus which looks unbelieveably cool. It supposedly has something to do with the original Alien film but again I haven’t read up on it or watched the trailers because I know no matter what happens I’m going to watch this film. I’m a huge fan of Alien and Blade Runner and its great that he’s going back into the science fiction genre. We could have a masterpiece on our hands.

In July I believe the Amazing Spiderman is coming out. This is the reboot with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker with Mark Webb directing. I’m one of those who thinks that the Sam Raimi films are perfect (well at least 1 and 2) and Toby Maguire was the perfect Peter Parker. Frankly, this reboot looks stupid – it’s got a hipster Spiderman with designer hair and apparently its gonna go into the origin which is a really stupid idea. However, its being directed by Mark Webb who made 500 days of summer (one of my favourites) and just for that I think I’ll give this a shot but I’d be surprised if I came out thinking it was better than the original.

Also in July another big comic book movie and probably the most anticipated film of 2012 the third installment in Nolan’s Batman series The Dark Knight Rises. Again this is something I’ll definitely see no matter what, I’ve seen the teaser poster and it looks super-cool. I think I speak for pretty much everyone when I say this is probably the one single movie everyone’s looking forward to the most in 2012. And I think like The Dark Knight this will top the expectations.

The new Pixar films coming out in August called Brave. I have absolutely no idea what its about – its set in Scotland supposedly but you know its a Pixar film and it kinda goes without saying that its gonna be on everyone’s list of movies to see in 2012. Pixar have a (almost) perfect track record and I’m sure they’ll deliver. Also in August is the Total Recall reboot which I’m sort of curious about, I thought the original was a lot of fun. Another August release is Diary of Wimpy Kid 3, I really like the first two so naturally looking forward to the new one.

Moving on to September, I think the only big one is the new Rian Johnson (Brick) science fiction film ‘Looper’. It’s set in the future and features time travel. Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. The picture above looks pretty darn cool as well.

And in November there is the gangster film The Gangster Squad – There isn’t much information about this but it stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone – I’m sold. Also in November I believe the new Bond film is coming out – Skyfall.

Finally December. December actually looks like the busiest month because we have The Hobbit, World War Z, The Great Gatsby and the new film by Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained. I’m especially looking forward to The Great Gatsby starring Leo DiCaprio and Django Unchained also starring Leo DiCaprio among others. And on a final note Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City 2 I thought was supposed to come out in 2012 but there isn’t any news or updates on it which sucks but I’m keeping my hopes up on that one. So I guess that’s about it, I know I haven’t included a few films which you’ll definitely find on other peoples list like The Hunger Games, Men in Black 3 or the new Bourne film but hey this is my list you get what you get.  Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope to see you folks real soon.

As part of the Ingmar Bergman Challenge, I’ve watched my Bergman film for this week which was Summer with Monika about a doomed love story between two teenagers. Harriet Andersson’s performance as Monika was something that immediately stood out, you go from liking the character very much to absolutely hating her towards the end and not being aware that you are being manipulated in that way- at the same time having doubts about her throughout the film. I was really surprised by the way real life was portrayed, there are really harsh characters and teenagers smoking and swearing and lots of nudity – I was aware that this was a 1953 film so I was expecting it to be conservative (also it was rated PG) but then again it is a European movie and they have the reputation of being sexually liberated but still it was interesting to see it goes as far back as the 50s. All in all it’s a really good film, and I’m starting to believe that any subject Bergman works on will result in an interesting movie.

Watched:

  • The Seventh Seal (1957)
  • Wild Strawberries (1957)
  • The Magician (1958)
  • Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
  • Summer with Monika  (1953)

 

Next up:

  • Winter Light (1963)

 

Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls. – Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman was a legendary Swedish filmmaker. His 1957 film The Seventh Seal established him as a world-class director. I first heard about him when he was mentioned by Woody Allen as a major influence on himself in an interview. I thought I should check out his films but never got around to it. A few months ago, on TV (Film4) they were doing an ‘Ingmar Bergman Season’ where every night they show a famous film by him. This was great because it was a chance to watch all of his films not just the odd iconic one.

I first watched The Seventh Seal, it being the most famous and Woody Allen’s favourite. I recognised the chess scene immediately because it had been referenced and parodied numerous times in films like Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey to the more recent 500 Days of Summer. The Seventh Seal was mesmerizing. It gave me a new perspective on films and really opened me to other classic foreign films and filmmakers.

However, I’ve only managed to watch four films by Bergman – The Seventh Seal (which I watched twice), Wild Strawberries (my favourite so far), The Magician and Through a Glass Darkly. And this was a few months ago. So I figured I should really get back to his films and watch some more. I’ve challenged myself to watch at least one Bergman film a week. Starting this week with Summer with Monika. Hopefully, If I get time I might be able to write about each film a little bit. Farewell.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is great hollow entertainment. It is funnier then it’s predecessor, has a lot more action and fight sequences and more explosions then a bond film. It will make you question if this really was based on Conan Doyle’s work, because it is more an action entertainer then a clever detective mystery.

This time, Holmes and Dr Watson have to take down the cunning Professor Moriarty. But it isn’t very clear what exactly Moriarty is trying to do and what our heros have to do to stop him. I felt there was no sturcture and the plot was all over the place and I think part of the reason for that is that they were trying to shove in unesscessary fights and jokes (to raise the entertainment value) rather then focus on telling a clever story. For a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, the script wasn’t as clever as I hoped. The film resorted to using only tricks and gimmicks that appeared clever. Another thing I didn’t very much like was the excessive use of slow-motion. I’m aware that every action blockbuster since The Matrix has been looking for an excuse to use slow-motion in fight scenes but this was just over the top. In the first film, it was completely justified and was used smartly to show the speed of Holmes’s thought process but this time around it becomes repetitive and seemed forced or out of place.

The performances were I thought shallow, but that might just be the script that doesn’t really leave room to develop the characters. Holmes and Watson are very one-dimensional, they feel like cartoon charcters. There is no complexity or depth. Robert Downy Jr’s Sherlock Holmes is Tony Stark with a Victorian costume. Jared Harris’s Moriarty was bland. He was more of a school teacher then criminal mastermind, Harris really underplays the character and we get a villain that doesn’t seem like much of a threat.

On the positive side, I really liked Philippe Rousselot’s cinematography. It was stylish and cool and shows great craftsmanship. I think giving each film in the seris a different colour scheme is a great idea, much like what Chrisitphor Nolan is doing with the Batman films i.e Begin’s as sepia, TDK was blue, TDKR is going to have by the looks of it a black and white colour pallette. So in that style the first Sherlock Holmes was green and now A Game of Shadows is blue. This might be the start of a thrend in Hollywood.

Overall A Game of Shadows is a hilarious action film thats very enjoyable as long as you don’t go in expecting a clever story or great acting.

There was so much hype surrounding Hugo.  When the trailer first came out, many people including Scorsese fans were so critical. Everywhere on the internet the talk was negative, people were saying ‘What the hell is this!? Scorsese doing a children’s movie? In 3D?’ But as the release date was coming closer, interviews came out where Marty explained what he was trying to do with the 3D technology and the negativity sort of calmed down ‘Hey it’s Scorsese, he knows what he is doing’. I kept an eye on it all, I too was sceptical.  On opening weekend, all of a sudden it gathered universal acclaim, James Cameron called it a ‘Masterpiece’. However, the Box Office takings didn’t support the critical acclaim, and a few negative reviews started coming out. My curiosity had been peaked, but it wasn’t until about two weeks after the release that I had a chance to see it.

Being a big fan of Martin Scorsese, I went in expecting to be blown away (which I was). But the first thing that came to mind was ‘the marketing on this film was done all wrong’, Hugo is NOT a children’s film. I’d imagine many kids would rather go see Puss In Boots rather then put up with Hugo’s modest pace. In fact this film would only appeal to a very select group of people, namely lovers of film (which might explain why so many critics loved it) but Joe Average looking to take his kids out for a day of fun and laughter at the movies wouldn’t be too happy because although Hugo was advertised as a mainstream children’s blockbuster, in reality is very far from it.

Now that we’ve got that out the way, I must say that I was very impressed and came out thinking the extra money was money well spent. Based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the story takes place in a 30s Paris railway station and is about a young boy Hugo who attempts to repair a broken automaton to get in touch with his deceased father. Asa Butterfield gives a touching performance as Hugo, with Ben Kingsley, Chloe Grace Moretz and Sacha Baron Cohen all in solid supporting roles.

The set designs and special effects were amazing and grand. With the help of 3D you really are transported into this magical railway station. It wasn’t gimmicky but handled with class. The 3D uses depth to take us IN rather than have something stick OUT at us. Hugo is really a film about the story of film and George Melies innovations in filmmaking and film special effects. I assume Martin Scorsese really enjoyed making it and I’m sure many other film lovers will enjoy watching it. Adieu.

Highly innovative in its approach, this award winning animated documentary follows Ari Folman a filmmaker in his 40s, who has served in the Israel Defence Forces during the Lebanon War at the age of 19. Haunted by nightmares of the massacre, he attempts to regain his memories of the war by talking to; old friends who have been there with him, others who were present in Beirut during the time and through psychiatrist help two decades after the event.

The style of the animation, the colours and tones make the images so striking, so vivid but unlike other war films it isn’t gritty doesn’t have any of that harsh reality stuff (at least not until the very end) it’s almost surreal in sense as if everything is part of a dream. I was blown away by this fresh take on the subject. It is such a powerful way to illustrate war, as if it were a dream and when you think about it, it makes a great amount of sense because we do very strange and terrible things in war as this film shows, things you wouldn’t even dream of doing in regular life.

The use of music is again remarkable. Upbeat – lively rock music during scenes of gruesome acts of war and killing emphasises the irony and in fact creates a more effective scene (‘Good morning Lebanon’ is haunting). The Waltz with Bashir scene itself is probably the cleverest metaphor in the entire film. Using music to evoke emotion has been done in many war films (ending of Paths of Glory) and this is probably the epitome of that.

Just about every aspect of the film has been done to perfection, right until the horrific end when the reality hits with the live footage of the grieving women after the massacre. Waltz with Bashir is probably one of the greatest war films of all time. I know that’s a bold statement but no other film on war has moved me and made me think in such a profound way as this one. Highly recommended.

The film has a very interesting visual style, the shaky hand-held camera, aspect ratio and extremely shallow focus create a very nostalgic vibe. The awe-inspiring landscape lends itself well to the expressiveness of the film resulting in some stunning photography. However, it does get tiresome after a while, the novelty wears off and it becomes dull.

Arnold (FishTank, Red Road) justifies the lack of a score by stating that rawness and realism was what she intended to reveal through her adaptation. I have to agree, a musical score would have subdued the grittiness of the film but the repeated use of ambient sounds resulted in monotony. The sameness of the visual style and the repeated use of the same sounds for more than two hours is enough to put me to sleep but what really stood out as quite extraordinary was that Arnold’s interpretation of the original novel was unlike any other previous adaptations. She really does succeed in creating a distinct voice through her films and her actors (who all gave amazing performances by the way).

My verdict? It’s a challenging film and not for everyone but fans of the book won’t be disappointed by this fresh take on an old classic.

I love horror films, one of my favourite genres and seeing as that it is Halloween I thought I’d do a list of my ten favourite horrors, so here goes…

10. The Evil Dead

The Evil Dead is just bloody, savage and completely insane. Five friends decide to go on holiday and stay at an abandoned old cabin secluded in the woods (as you do), they seem alright at first but after evoking an evil curse they all start getting possessed by spirits…err the evil dead. Now this film is really low budget ($375,000) and contains some really horrible acting but that’s not what’s so scary about it, what will make you shit your pants is the makeup. Yes I don’t know how they did it but they made those possessed girls look really fucking scary. I remember thinking that the way they made ‘em look was scarier than that girl from The Exorcist. For that and just for being all-around violent and bloody the film gets the number 10 spot.

9. Rosemary’s Baby


This is a well known Polanski film and a completely different kind of scare from The Evil Dead. A young couple Rosemary and Guy move into a new apartment and they have these old couple as their neighbours and straight off the bat these geezers look creepy and suspicious and it’s just the way the films moves and feels that makes you really uneasy. The old neighbour couple turn out to be devil worshipers (surprised surprise) and somehow they get the devil to conceive a baby with Rosemary. But it just starts there, the film is told in Rosemary’s point of view (brilliant performance by Mia Farrow by the way) so everything seems uncertain and surreal, you can’t trust anything or anyone and it’s just really confusing and disturbing as you watch as it unfolds. If I say anymore I’d just be doing an injustice to the film but I do have say that the ending is truly horrifying.

8. The Wicker Man (1973)


This is the kind of film where you aren’t really scared while you’re watching it (not saying you’re not scared at all) but after you’ve seen it and you go to bed that night and that’s when it’ll really hit you. If it wasn’t for Eraserhead this would have been the weirdest film on my list. It’s about a policeman who visits an isolated island looking for a missing girl, but the islanders say that the girl doesn’t exist and that he must have made a mistake. But the policeman’s determined and goes looking around for this girl. The weird rituals and habits of the islanders puzzle the policeman and he decides to find out what it’s all about. It seems that not many people have watched this film and if you’re one of them I suggest you get yourself a copy and get ready to be scared outta your wits.

7. Eraserhead


The lady in the radiator (image above) is the only reason this film is on my list. Ok sure, the whole movie is strange and confusing but it isn’t really ‘scary’ except for the lady in the radiator. Now maybe it’s just me but the scene where she sings is in my one of the scariest scenes in a film I’ve ever seen. There’s just something about it and even the whole film that’s just freaky, I’m not someone who scares easily but watching this film I physically felt scared and wanted to get away from there. The world that David Lynch creates in Eraserhead is like you’re worst nightmare.

6. Audition


Even before I started watching this film, I was scared. It was a Japanese horror film and it really lived up to the reputation. It’s about Aoyama who with the help of his producer friend stages a fake audition for a film in the hopes of finding a wife. He likes this girl called Asami but like in any good horror film things don’t turn out the way you want them. What’s great about this film is that it actually takes time to develop the main character Aoyama, the first half of the is practically you getting to form a connection with him and when bad stuff starts to happen you’re even more terrified because its happening to someone who we’re so familiar with. In addition to that this film has what’s probably regarded as the most unbearable torture scene in movie history. Must watch but at your own risk.

5. The Thing


Most people are probably familiar with this film, a group of scientists in Antarctica discover an alien that takes the form of anything it kills. It really doesn’t have a plot and the characters are one-dimensional but what’s so terrifying is just the idea of being trapped in this isolated place where no one can come to rescue you. And what’s really clever is that they show ‘the thing’ in many different forms so it’s scarier every time it’s on screen and helps hold the suspense. But what I like the most about this film are special effects, they are just horrific and gross.

4. Alien


We talked about the idea of being isolated in The Thing where the people are alone in the Antarctic but that’s nothing compared to being in space, sharing a spaceship with an indestructible ‘perfect organism’ and a handful of people who are just as scared as you are. You’ll be on the edge of your seat all throughout this film, each scene is more terrifying then the last and you’ll never really look at ET in the same way after watching this.

3. Carrie


Carrie is one of my favourite films and I think it’s because, it has who is probably the most terrifying character in any horror movie, Margaret White – Carrie’s mother. She is this religious nut who practically tortures her daughter Carrie who is bullied a lot in school. The bloody prom scene is classic but what I found truly horrifying was the scene right after that when Carrie comes home and her mother’s waiting for her with a knife. Piper Laurie’s performance was epic and completely terrifying.

2. Psycho

Yes, the iconic Hitchcock horror is second on my list. I remember the first time I watched this, it was full of suspense never a boring moment and it keeps you guessing right till the very end. This film’s so famous I don’t think I need to say anything more about it, it’s one of the best example of its genre and Hitchcock at his best. The infamous shower scene is classic and so is the ending, this film ages like wine. 

1. The Shining

Finally, my all time favourite horror film has got to be Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a loose adaptation of the Stephen King novel starring a crazy Jack Nickelson as Jack Torrance a hotel care taker who has a mental breakdown and attempts to murder his family with a axe. I’ve seen this movie a million times and Nickelson’s performance sends chills down my spine every time. The thing with this film is that it doesn’t need to have any supernatural elements to it to make it scary. You can believe that it’s the devil that makes Jack do those things but its more scarier to think that the isolation has just got to him and its scarier because it can actually happen to anyone, you don’t need to have religious beliefs to be frightened by this film like with The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby but even if you do you can still be scared. And as always with Kubrick you can expect a fine quality film with great acting, chilling music and cinematography which you seldom find in horror films. Its’ a must see masterpiece.