27 January 2014

The Thirteenth Tale, 2013 - ★★★

I'm not sure what makes the difference between cinematic and televisual; despite frequently looking great and some strong performances The Thirteenth Tale never escapes the boundries of the small(er) screen. The creepy sense of mystery is quickly established but too many cliched moments drag the film out before it reaches it's satisfactory conclusion.

January 27, 2014 at 08:05PM

25 January 2014

Bernie, 2011 - ★★★½

I've been wanting to see Bernie since it's US release in 2011 and after so much time it was perhaps inevitable that I'd be a little disappointed. It's still a great showcase for Linklater's diversity and probably Jack Black's best performance. Once Bernie's actions are discovered the film gets a lot more interesting than the more light hearted setup. The final credits reveal an extra brilliance to both the film making and the story, which made me want to watch again (even though I may have already known going into the film but I wasn't certain).

January 25, 2014 at 07:51PM

Dinosaur, 2000 - ★★

The forgotten Disney film was always an odd addition to the official Disney list (and potential Pointless answer) so I was curious to check it out before it disappears from Netflix next week. There's very little to suggest it is a Disney film although there may be moments tipping their hat to other classics; it's hard not to think of Bambi during the opening and the trio of villains reminded me of the hyenas in The Lion King.

The animation is fine and surprisingly hasn't dated (although it looks a bit sparse in places) but there's next to no story, the characterisations insipid and the anthropomorphism makes you wish they'd stuck to the original plan of keeping it dialogue free.

January 25, 2014 at 07:37PM

24 January 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013 - ★★★½

About two thirds of The Wolf of Wall Street is a joyous ride full of debauchery, fantastic performances and frequent laugh out loud funny moments. Unfortunately the final third loses it's way and is never as satisfying as anything that has preceded it.

January 24, 2014 at 07:45PM

22 January 2014

Kiss the Water, 2013 - ★★★½

Throughout the film there are frequent moments of beauty especially in Em Cooper's sublime animated sequences. When the film focuses on Boyd or the art of fly making it's fascinating but unfortunately it keeps returning to less interesting talking heads and muddled messages.

January 22, 2014 at 08:11PM

19 January 2014

Your Highness, 2011 - ★★½

It's a shame that this wasn't funnier because there was some delight in watching a truly bawdy film. I suspect everybody had more fun making the film than anybody watching it.

January 19, 2014 at 07:55PM

You've Got Mail, 1998 - ★★★½

I recently watched The Shop Around The Corner for the first time and one thing I couldn't help feeling is that how well the story would work in the Internet age. You've Got Mail quite rightly doesn't dwell too much on the email side of things (which must have been quite a novelty for most in 1998) and manages to update the story in a largely successful way. The first hour or so doesn't work that well and the use of music is irritating throughout. However everything really picks up from the first date and the second half of the film is just wonderful.

January 19, 2014 at 06:55PM

18 January 2014

Kung Fu Panda 2, 2011 - ★★

Hard to recommend anything here. The action sequences are dull, the comedy falls flat and the characters all lack personality. The animation isn't even that good and looks like it was made for TV, the only saving grace is the 2D animation used for flashbacks and dreams which looks wonderful.

January 18, 2014 at 11:54AM

17 January 2014

Dallas Buyers Club, 2013 - ★★★★

It's the stand out performances that make Dallas Buyers Club a really great film. The main story may be formulaic and offer few surprises but you can't help but be carried along by the wonderful characters portrayed incredibly by McConaughey and Leto.

January 17, 2014 at 08:10PM

15 January 2014

For Those in Peril, 2013 - ★★★★

An impressive debut which slowly builds up a fear that something terrible is going to happen; or perhaps reveal what terrible things have already taken place. The different styles used to unfold the story and Aaron's state of mind work in a powerful way, although at times it sometimes feel like a series of experimental shorts (although joined into one story). At times I was reminded of Ben Wheatley's work in Kill List and A Field In England and I've just seen another review namecheck The Wasp Factory which is also a good reference point.

The final scenes are likely to be divisive and it would be easy to agree that the film should have ended on it's penultimate scene. However the very final scene was just what I wanted to see and raised the film from good to great.

January 15, 2014 at 10:04PM

13 January 2014

Like Someone in Love, 2012 - ★★★★

Not long into Like Someone In Love I started to wonder if it was too late to add another film to my end of year list. By the end I decided it wasn't too late and in it went at 39 (which doesn't sound high but only because there were so many good film).

The film is strangely beautiful, completely unpredictable and incredibly compelling, it also ends in a wonderfully abrupt way which left a huge smile on my face.

January 13, 2014 at 11:21PM

12 January 2014

TT3D: Closer to the Edge, 2011 - ★★★★½

Like all great documentaries it really doesn't matter if you already have any interest in the subject. It starts by introducing brilliantly engaging and entertaining characters before showing all the thrills and dangers of the race.

January 12, 2014 at 11:07PM

I Am Number Four, 2011 - ★★½

Another film that is neither good nor bad (and exactly the type of thing I said I wasn't going to watch this year).

January 12, 2014 at 11:00PM

11 January 2014

12 Years a Slave, 2013 - ★★★★

McQueen continues to be a brutally honest director, seemingly unafraid to do whatever it takes to tell a story in the most effective way. When other directors push things as far as they can it's often to be controversial but here, as in Shame (and perhaps Hunger), it's only to aid the story.

It's hard to pick faults with something that is not only exceptionally well made but also incredibly important. All of the film looks amazing, nearly every performance magnificent and yet something didn't quite connect for me. I've spent the last few days trying to work out why I didn't feel the same way as everybody else or even how I felt after Shame. When reading other reviews I noticed lots of them mentioning how slavery hasn't really been covered much by film and I was surprised to find that this is actually true. Even if slavery hasn't been portrayed in a significant way before, it feels like it has (in a general way and not a direct criticism of how it's portrayed here) and of course we all know that slavery is bad. Perhaps my problem was that towards the end of the film I knew how bad things had become and yet they continued. It may be incredibly distasteful and inappropriate to say that the later scenes drag on a bit, and perhaps it was intentional, but they do, and in the full (free) preview screening many people were checking their phones.

It's also perhaps unfair to judge on film on what it isn't but the story told in the handful of captions and the end sounded like it would be a lot more interesting than the previous 12 years.

January 11, 2014 at 05:22PM

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, 2011 - ★★½

Not as excruciatingly bad as the last film but also not a lot of anything else either.

January 11, 2014 at 02:59PM

08 January 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 2013 - ★★★½

An enjoyable adventure that may not make much sense but left my usual cold and cynical self feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

January 08, 2014 at 10:22PM

07 January 2014

All Is Lost, 2013 - ★★★★

A remarkable piece of film making, even more so when you consider it's only Chandor's second film (not to mention Redford's 47th-ish). It took me a while to get hooked (not helped by the unwanted audio commentary from the people behind) but once I was I remained with it until the end.

January 07, 2014 at 12:37PM

06 January 2014

The Fir Tree, 2011 - ★★★½

Really nicely made and surprisingly moving although occasionally a little bit too twee.

January 06, 2014 at 03:06PM

05 January 2014

American Hustle, 2013 - ★★★★

Like any great con I was completely taken along for the ride but at the end left wondering exactly what had happened. The whole film felt like an accumulation of something but I'm not entirely sure what. Hugely enjoyable with some of the greatest performances in recent memory, especially Amy Adams who would be my choice for any best actress award this year.

January 05, 2014 at 10:53PM

04 January 2014

The Hidden Fortress, 1958 - ★★★★

Considering how much I hated Desolation of Smaug yesterday it was perhaps strange that I sat down to watch another two and half hour film about a band of travellers making their way cross country whilst being chased by an army. The Hidden Fortress does everything the right way: all the characters are great, the almost-slapstick parts and bickering are funny, it looks fantastic and there's a sense of epicness without having to resort CGI and sweeping aerial shots.

January 04, 2014 at 05:33PM

Behind the Candelabra, 2013 - ★★★★

Even as Behind The Candelabra turned up in end of year lists I remained skeptical about another TV biopic but I shouldn't have been. Great characters, great actors and great performances all round. Hugely enjoyable and in my opinion a more engaging love story than Blue Is The Warmest Colour which shares many key points (popular older artist takes advantage of naive young lover)

I watched this is a double bill with Side Effects and both are great at highlighting Soderbergh's versatility.

January 04, 2014 at 12:44PM

Side Effects, 2013 - ★★★★

One great thing about knowing nothing about a film is it's even better revelling in the twists and turns as a great story unfolds.

January 04, 2014 at 12:32PM

03 January 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013 - ★★

This is the boring, overlong, CGI heavy mess I was expecting to see when I was pleasantly surprised by the first film. Almost nothing happens for the full duration of the far far far too long running time. Most of the action set pieces are more boring than those in Man Of Steel which I didn't think was possible. The dialogue is embarrassingly clunky or overly expositional and what's with the elves talking to each other in English (middle-earthish?) when no other species is around. I'm fairly sure most of the scenes featuring Elves or Orcs could be cut altogether without having any impact on the rest of the film. Although then we would lose the most unintentionally funny line where the Orcs refer to Evangeline Lilly as She-elf.

Once Smaug turns up things do improve but due to the time draining nature of the rest of the film I have no idea if those scenes lasted 10 minutes or an hour - either way it's hard to justify having to sit through the rest of the film to get to them.

I'm trying to think of something positive to say but I'm really struggling. I still find HDR an interesting curiosity so the film wasn't a complete waste of time. Hopefully it will be put to more use someday (National Theatre Live broadcasts?), when it works it's really good but there are still issues with any fast pans.

January 03, 2014 at 05:37PM